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Space Exploration Is Beneficial to Mankind in So Many Ways

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Space exploration is beneficial to mankind in so many ways. The United States government has spent billions, 601.3 to be exact, on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration programs. Coming up on NASA’s 60th anniversary on 29th July 2018, it should not be viewed as a waste of time or money. Mankind has learned many things about our planet from the extravagant feats of deception from outer space. We are now aware of the existence of other planets, stars, and galaxies that exist beyond our current reach. Jack Fox said, “Perhaps the most substantial single obstacle to progress of space exploration and utilization of space for human benefit is the safety & reliability and the inherent cost of launching to, and returning from, space.” (Fox) The only disadvantage is the expensive cost of operations and scientific research involved with the education. From one small step for man to millionaire space adventure tours, space explorations have exceeded the expectations of many Americans, but some entrepreneurs are not satisfied with the results. Which marks the age of a new revolution in space travel and research that can be achieved by more frugal ways to reach the outer limits. Also quoted by Jack Fox,

“The primary influence in the high costs of current launch systems (the same is true for commercial and military aircraft and most other reusable systems) is the operations, maintenance and infrastructure portion of the program's total life cycle costs. Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) maintenance and design have traditionally been two separate engineering disciplines with often conflicting objectives — maximizing ease of maintenance versus optimizing performance, size and cost”. (Fox)

We need to reclaim and reuse our space gear so that Americans can travel to the outer atmosphere at a fraction of the cost of past space travels. The United States Federal government can save billions of taxpayers’ dollars per year by contracting all space programs through Space Explorations Technologies Corp. with the goal of reducing space transportation cost.

Why Americans want to explore, can simply be answered by saying it is in our nature. Subsequently poor decision making can lead to consequences far greater than any human can predict. For example, the Ming China’s abandonment of their fleet in the early 15th century was a poor decision that hindered Chinese civilization for centuries and left the world open to European discovery. “By the nineteenth century, this isolationism left China vulnerable to Western imperialism, creating wounds that are still in evidence today as China struggles to regain what it considers its rightful position at the apex of the world order, a spot it held with such confidence more than 500 years ago”. (Wyman) The withdrawal of Chinese into their own borders created a closed end to exploration and has hampered the country even to today. NASA’s work raises many concerns with the public about cost. With so many other problems in the United States, the historical connections are in plain sight. Space exploration must continue because so much of NASA’s impact is long term, plus the short-term benefits of satellites, national security, jobs, and inspiration to the children. Sacrificing long term goals for short term needs are reasons that people might argue the space exploration needs to stop. Americans would feel that they had lost something that matters, that our best days were gone by canceling the space programs. When people think about committing large sums of money to a project, people tend to disregard reasons that are emotional or value-driven or thing that cannot be projected on a spreadsheet. These are not reasons that would make Americans miss our space program. But in space exploration those are the reasons that are the most important. Society will not succeed in the long run if they place their resources and efforts in things that do not provide concrete value. Anyone who wants to build spacecraft or even wants to supply bolts for the space industry must work at a higher level of precision than generations before them and that standard has influenced our entire industry base. Scientists believe that ninety five percent of our universe consists of dark matter, of the which people know nothing about. But as cavemen learned to harness fire, future generations will learn to adapt, and use new resources explored and discovered by astronauts. A thousand years from now there will be humans that will know that the earliest of space exploration pioneers gave this to them and did not quit.

The great race to space marked the start of a new era in mankind. When newspapers hit the floor on the 5th October 1957, reporting on yesterday’s news of the Soviets successfully launching the Sputnik I, the citizens of the United States began to worry. Allocating available funds, the United States would be certain to not fall behind to communism. Dwight D Eisenhower, on the 29th July 1958, signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act establishing NASA. NASA absorbed the existing NACA’s, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, 43-year-old annual budget of one hundred million dollars, 8000 employees, three major research laboratories and two small test facilities. Astronaut John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth on the 20th February 1962 in the Friendship Seven spacecraft. Glenn’s, Project Mercury mission a 277-million-dollar program, sparked American inspiration with the title of national hero and received a ticker tape parade in New York City, followed by a NASA service medal awarded to him by President John F. Kennedy. The United States launched three more Mercury flights, the Aurora Seven, 24th May 1962, which duplicated Glenn’s three orbits around the planet. The Sigma Seven which orbited the earth six times on the 3rd October 1962. And the final Faith Seven, on the 15th May 1963, which completed the maximum number of orbits, twenty-two times in just 32.4 hours. NASA intended to launch one more mission but decided to concentrate on Project Gemini, a 1.3-billion-dollar project, instead. Project Gemini, NASA’s second human spaceflight mission was focused on the commitment of the moon landing. The objective of Gemini was to develop space travel techniques to land astronauts on the moon and to support Extravehicular activity outside of the capsule. The Gemini space craft flew ten crews of low Earth orbits and Extravehicular activity. To land an Astronaut on the moon the space craft would have to detach from the primary craft and then successfully land on the moon complete an Extravehicular activity and then commence back to earth in a reentry module. A massive learning curve that would result in three astronaut’s deaths in training. A true sacrifice in American exploration which ended in a total of sixteen astronauts that flew five Gemini missions. With the support, techniques, and data collected from Gemini, the birth of Apollo was at large. The Apollo Program cost 25.4 billion dollars and consisted of sixteen missions. Apollo Eleven accomplished the mission when it successfully landed the Lunar Module on the moon and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface placing an American flag. All astronauts landed safely back to Earth’s surface on the 24th July 1969. The Apollo Program resulted a total of twelve men to walk on the moon. Three men were killed in the Apollo One mission before takeoff from an electrical fire in a pure oxygen environment. The largest money commitment made by The United States during peace time was the Apollo program, at the peak of the program it employed over 400,000 people and with the support from over 20,000 industrial firms and universities. Next was Skylab, The United States’ one and only space station that orbited Earth from 1973 until 1979. With a total of 2,249 days in space, Skylab completed 34,981 orbits around Earth. The cost of Skylab was 2.2 billion dollars. The United States spent 245 million on the Apollo-Soyuz Test project which was a joint space flight with the Soviet’s and was also the last manned flight mission until the Space Shuttle program. “Assurance of the shuttle’s cost-effectiveness provided a solid rationale for its supporters in Washington”. (Launius) The Space Shuttle program cost 196 billion dollars, with the official name, Space Transportation System. Ultimately the goal of the Space Shuttle was to serve as a reusable spacecraft. “With the shuttle program NASA planned to facilitate its aggressive space-exploration effort by providing low-cost, reusable transportation to and from Earth’s orbit”. (Launius) There were five operational orbital shuttles built: Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour along with the Enterprise as a test craft. There were two disasters within the program, Challenger and Discovery, both disintegrated killing a total of fourteen crew members. The Space Shuttle program had over 654 facilities and employed over 5,000 people with 1200 suppliers in the United States. The final launch of the Atlantis on the 8th July 2011, marked the retirement of the program. The Space Shuttle program has been scrutinized over the years for cost and goals of achievement that were promised along with safety issues and management problems. The International Space Station is the only working product of NASA currently. Brad Plumer, a previous reporter for The Washington Post, writes that “To date, the International Space Station has cost as much as $160 billion, with the United States providing the bulk of the money — nearly $100 billion (although it depends how you include the price of the space shuttle program). Russia, Europe, Canada, and Japan chipped in for the rest. It's arguably the most expensive single object ever built” (2014). The ISS was first launched into orbit on the 20th November 1998 with thirty-five total docks from the Space Shuttle. Currently on the 55th expedition, the ISS is a crew of six which started on the 27th February 2018 including three American astronauts. NASA’s profound history has paved the way for future development in space travel.

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