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Is NASA Spending Worth It?

“5 Popular Misconceptions about NASA” by Lauren Lyons

astronaut-11080_1280Should the state invest in the space studies? The 2013 The Huffington Post article by a science communicator, engineer, and space policy analyst Lauren Lyons is sure to persuade you it should. The author believes that another answer may only be given if the person lacks basic knowledge about the organization and its role. In particular, Lyons names five common misconceptions about NASA:

1. NASA has shut down. The author shows many people wrongly associate the outdatedness and inefficiency of Space Shuttle program, which was really shut down in 2011, with NASA at large. NASA has not terminated its activity and it working on the Space Shuttle replacement, as American astronauts currently travel to the International Space Station via the Russian Soyuz vehicle, paying $70 million a seat.

2. NASA is too expensive. According to public opinion poll, NASA takes up about 20% of the budget money. In reality, NASA is not cheap, but it takes only 0,5% of the U.S. national budget. This sum seems especially not significant in comparison to “big ticket items” such as Defense (24,8%), Social Security (22%), and Healthcare (22,7%).

3. The money spent in Space should better be spent on the Earth. The author starts her refutation stating that “There are currently no banks or shops in space, so it turns out every dollar NASA spends is spent right here down on Earth.” This money gives jobs to thousands of workers, brings revenue on investment, and enables a great number of new technologies, which are used to boost performance and minimize expenses on Earth.

4. There is no need to have space program funded by taxpayers when there are private companies eager to invest their own money in Space exploration. The author appreciates the recent achievements of the private spaceflight companies but reveals the fact the general public is not aware of – these companies heavily depend on the U.S. government subsidies and NASA, their single biggest customer, in particular. Therefore, the private space industry is not designed to substitute NASA, but rather to free it of the commercially viable aspects of space exploration, so that it can focus on bigger missions “pushing the limits of science, engineering, and discovery.”

5. NASA is a part of Defense. NASA is a civilian agency, which has cooperated with the countries and nations that the State Department “would be hard pressed to sit comfortably at the table with.” Such experience is very important for building international trust and promoting joint efforts in tackling global issues, environmental issues in particular.

how to cite

APA

In-text: People have many misconceptions about NASA (Lyons, 2013).

Lyons, L. (2013). 5 popular misconceptions about NASA. The Huffington Post. Retrieved web address.

MLA

In-text: People have many misconceptions about NASA (Lyons) or (Lyons para 1).

Lyons, Lauren. “5 Popular Misconceptions about NASA” The Huffington Post, 9 Sep. 2013, web address. Accessed date.

 “Benefits Stemming from Space Exploration”

mars-67522_1280This sheet, issued by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group, gives a detailed review of major benefits of space exploration in the following areas:

1. Innovation: Space exploration promotes innovation in two ways. First, space exploration enables new technologies (e.g. global search and rescue systems) and many innovations, developed for space industry, are later used in everyday lives (heart monitors, water purification systems, miniaturization of technology pushing microelectronics as such). Second, being fascinating, it attracts young people to careers in science, engineering and mathematics, building further capacity for innovations.

2. Culture and inspiration: Space exploration pursues knowledge of a human nature and its place in the universe.

3. New means to address global challenges: Being a global endeavor, space exploration contributes to cooperation between the nations, which is necessary to face global threat or address global challenges. In addition, new knowledge may give means to reach environmental sustainability.

how to use

Though the article provides proofs of the necessity to invest into space exploration, certain strategies may help you use it to argue for the opposite. For example, you can state that the development of technologies has not contributed to human happiness (there are many authors expressing such idea). Therefore, instead of looking for the answers in the space, people should invest more into the psychological and philosophical enquiry into the human nature.

In addition, you may use the second benefit for an emotional appeal (pathos). For example, “Space exploration agencies claim that answering fundamental questions about the nature of the universe is one of their key benefits. However, people dying of hunger and insufficient medical care will unlikely find relief in this benefit.”

Likewise, you can state that although space exploration agencies representing different nations do cooperate, there are no obvious signs that such cooperation has promoted trust and cooperation between the nations at large.

how to cite

APA

In-text: Space exploration promotes innovation (Benefits stemming from space exploration, 2013).

Benefits stemming from space exploration (2013). Retrieved from web address.

MLA

In-text: Space exploration promotes innovation (“Benefits Stemming from Space Exploration” 1).

“Benefits Stemming from Space Exploration”, 2013, web address. Accessed date.

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