Can Space Exploration, Social Responsibility Fly in Same Orbit?

By Young, Ben | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), June 14, 2015 | Go to article overview

Can Space Exploration, Social Responsibility Fly in Same Orbit?


Young, Ben, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


At 9:32 a.m. on July 16, 1969, a Saturn V rocket blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Apollo 11 mission would be arguably the most successful space mission in history, carrying three astronauts to the moon and back.

Throughout the mission, news media everywhere delivered words and images about the mission to a captivated worldwide audience.

A mission on Nov. 5, 2013, was supposed to generate a similar reaction. Blasting off from Sriharikota, an island launch center of the Indian Space Research Association, the Mars Orbiter Mission began the long journey to Mars. Better yet, it came in on a budget of $73 million, a fraction of similar missions by the United States or China.

However, the media reaction was anything but positive. One telling headline came from Guardian Liberty Voice: "India Mars Mission Launches Amidst Overwhelming Poverty."

This headline touches on an incredibly difficult question: How can a government justify spending so much money on space while there are millions here on earth who need help?

Sure, $73 million is a fantastically low cost to get to Mars, but is it ethical to spend this money on a satellite when adults and children are starving?

There is no easy answer to this frequent question.

Space exploration, once the defining race of the Cold War, now holds a similar draw and prestige for the developing world. With MOM, India became just the fourth government in the world to reach Mars, joining the United States, Russia and European Union.

Other countries also are in the hunt. According to a study by the Economist, depending on how you define a space program, there are more than 70 such programs worldwide. These include programs in Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Bolivia and Belarus, all of which have significant challenges of their own.

At first glance, the question about spending on space seems entirely reasonable. What is the point of learning whether life outside of this world is possible while we can't even develop economies that make available food and shelter for everyone on earth? …

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Can Space Exploration, Social Responsibility Fly in Same Orbit?
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