Why Give a Damn:

Why should we spend money on space exploration when we have so many problems here on planet Earth? The answer to solving the world’s biggest problems is in the stars. Read what this astronaut has to say about it.

The author of this post, Ron Garan, is a Fighter Pilot, Test Pilot, Social Entrepreneur, Astronaut, and Aquanaut. And most unreasonably, through his social enterprise incubator the Manna Energy Foundation he has helped to bring drinking water to millions in Africa in a completely financially self sustaining way via his company, Manna Energy Ltd.

I’m asked all the time, “Why should we spend money on space exploration when we have so many problems here on planet Earth?”

The Answer: Two-Way Technology Transfer

During the past 50 years we frequently heard about the many amazing spinoffs from the human spaceflight program – everything from personal computers to solar energy. Now, we are also seeing direct tangible benefits from the research being conducted on the International Space Station (ISS).

Curious about better medicines, providing clean water, and growing enough food for the increasing global population?  Tweet This Quote

The ISS provides a unique environment for scientific discovery that simply cannot be duplicated anywhere on Earth. Research on this orbiting laboratory is not only enabling humans to explore the solar system, it is leading to countless improvements for life on Earth. For example, space based science offers an environment to foster new materials, better medicines, improved methods to provide clean water, and better ways to grow enough food to feed our increasing global population. Studying astronauts living and working in space also enhances our understanding of the human body, resulting in innovative ways to protect all humans from many different ailments. The list of benefits is endless.

I like to point out that the space program technology transfer is two-way. Many NASA engineers give their expertise and spare time to apply space program technology to problems facing the developing world. In doing so, they learn valuable lessons that will allow us to push space exploration beyond low-earth orbit. The highly efficient engineering approaches that are required in the developing world – robust solutions that do not require a lot of maintenance, resupply or training – are the same approaches we need to employ if we are going to break out of the bounds of low-earth orbit.

Engineering for the developing world and engineering to break the bounds of low-earth orbit have much in common.  Tweet This Quote

Each year, NASA celebrates one invention out of many spinoff technologies as the NASA Commercial Invention of the Year. A solar powered refrigerator designed to support life on the Moon, but with huge application on Earth, earned the prestigious title for 2011. With approximately 2 billion of Earth’s inhabitants lacking access to electricity, this technology developed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center will help us explore space as well as significantly improve the lives of so many on Earth.

Co-developers, Mike Ewert and David Bergeron, worked on NASA’s Advanced Thermal Team to develop solar refrigeration technology to cool habitats in space. They also realized the need for a comparable solar refrigerator that could operate in conjunction with the simple solar lighting systems already in place on Earth. A modified lunar “solar photovoltaic heat pump” was developed to produce a refrigerator with a vapor compression, battery-free cooling system that converts electricity from solar panels into thermal energy stored internally, using low-cost phase-change materials that control temperature swings. This system eliminates reliance on an electric grid, requires no batteries, stores thermal energy for efficient use when sunlight is absent, and works anywhere in the world.

Such a scalable, energy-efficient resource can be an incredible asset in places people don’t have refrigeration, including remote medical centers and underdeveloped areas. Electricity is essential for storage of vaccines and medicine. This technology can greatly reduce the cost and increase the availability of vaccines delivered to the most impoverished regions of the world.

NASA battery-free solar technology will improve life on Earth.

The solar powered refrigerator has been approved by the World Health Organization to provide cooling for vaccines in developing countries – a direct result of NASA’s two-way technology transfer.

According to Mike Ewert, this is just the beginning, “The NASA battery-free solar technology could be used to cool milk, produce or other consumer products in under-developed regions around the world, thus creating economic opportunities and improving lives on Earth.”

This technology is part of NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, which seeks to transfer technology into and out of NASA to benefit the space program and U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to inquire about the licensing possibilities for the Solar-Powered Refrigeration Technology (MSC-22970).

For information about this and other technology licensing opportunities, contact: NASA Johnson Space Center, Strategic Opportunities and Partnerships Development Office.

About the author

Ron Garan

Ron Garan

A fighter pilot, social entrepreneur, astronaut, and aquanaut, Ron Garan has done it all. He is now the Chief Pilot at World View Enterprises, co-founder and director of Manna Energy, and the author of Orbital Perspective.

  • Leija2014

    Thank you for sharing this post! I thought it was very interesting how we are able to study the universe and still help the humans on Earth. I thought it was also interesting to learn about the solar powered refrigerator to cool vaccines for developing countries. It makes me feel happy that there are still people out there who are trying to help others. My faith in humanity has been restored 🙂

  • GrycowskAJ17

    Wow this is so intriguing. I love how technology has become such a large part of our world. Hope it continues. What do you think is the most interesting new technology that may be unheard of?

  • Richard S

    “Why”??? Because it will provide millions of jobs and job related employment for everyone and it is a sustainable job market that will continue to thrive,,, is why.
    Ron Garan is not thinking clearly and is benefiting from the inventive nature of NASA by using the same technology’s they invented to use here on earth for helping those in need. (a noble cause which is probably motivated by his personal belief system)
    Space “Is” our next frontier (and has been) and the only reason I can determine by Mr. Garan’s comment is that in doing so (spending on space exploration) will prove once and for all (again) that his “Religious’ upbringing will finally be put to rest,, and buried..
    That “Is”‘ the only “Influential” reason(s) this program would be held back or slowed down from becoming,, “Common Place”..
    (noreply needed or wanted..)

  • Phillip DeVore

    Not to rain on everyone’s parade, but people in these areas that will benefit from solar fridges have been drinking warm goat or cow milk or have never had it and been living for generations without it. Why do they suddenly need it? And cooled down? Same with local produce, in season?

    And where are these under privileged people supposed to get the money to pay for the cold milk and fruits and veggies that are being shipped in?

  • jbrycewilson

    Over the years there has been a lot of cool innovations both from NASA and other high tech companies that have changed how we live our lives everyday. Both in the U.S. and abroad. The solar fridge is a good example, and I understand where Phillip is coming from below with his questions. However, considering the breadth of innovations that have come from research such as that done at NASA, it’s great to see those innovations be applied to real world scenarios.

  • Richard, I think you missed the point of Ron’s post. The answer to his question “Why Spend Money on Space” was exactly that… because of everything we learn = “Two-Way Technology Transfer” If you read Ron’s bio, he is an astronaut, among many other amazing things.

  • Eric S. Johansson

    1st argument:
    how much money we spend on space (2005)
    tl;dr = 25 bil world wide

    us anti-poverty efforts

    tl;dr = 358 bil US welfare, not including Medicaid/Medicare/SSI

    we could make space exploration go away and the money saved would be pocket change to world wide anti-poverty programs. I suspect that the ROI on space is such that we could justify taking money from anti-poverty programs and we would get a bigger positive social impact.

    2nd argument:
    space is a technological problem, poverty is a social problem. one can be solved, the other can be kind-of managed.

  • Ron Garan

    Thanks Richard for your strong support of the space program. That is exactly why I started the post with such a provocative title. Although I do not agree with everything you bring up in your comment, I do stand with you in defending the need for a robust program of space exploration. I feel it is one of the most important investments we can make in our future.

  • Ron Garan

    Hi Phillip although it is true that innovations that stem from NASA developed technology will help to increase the quality of life for people in developing countries, that’s not the point. The point is that this technology (the solar fridge as an example) will save lives. Especially considering the refrigeration requirements of vaccines and medicine. Technology developed for the space program is helping us to: fight cancer, provide clean water, provide clean energy, have a better understanding of our Earth and climate change, and a better understanding of the human body. The benefits are endless

  • Jen McKiernan

    Wow this is a very interesting post. I had no idea how much of an impact space exploration has on earth. It is a very cool concept that we can learn so much from exploring space that something can be invented to help save so many lives. Besides the solar fridge what are some other inventions we have gotten through space exploration?

  • Amy Rink

    Thank you for posting this article! I never realized how much us exploring space has helped us in so many ways! With NASA constantly exploring space it will be very interesting what they come up with for future invents and medicines! What do you find to have to most impact on our society that space based science has offered?

  • Logan Dohmeier

    This is a very interesting article but unfortunately I think we are overspending on space travel and research. The problems that we have with cancers and HIV and other disorders are mainly a result of behavioral choices. Creating a fridge that runs on solar power is cool and all, but how much does it cost to manufacture and distribute. We have to be realistic about costs because we aren’t going to hand out millions of fridges and other expensive gadgets to countries that have no development what-so-ever. They may not even know how to use them! Yes it will “save lives” but when? With whose money? Which countries deserve the saving and which do not? I don’t disagree with studying space and exploring potential cures and other technological advances, but more focus is needed on earth than in space by far. We can’t change behavior from space. Our problems are larger than ever here and are continuing to increase over time, not because we “lack technology” its because we rely on technology to do everything for us while also making poor behavioral choices.

  • KevinThomson32

    I have always told my friends this and believed this idea for so long and thank god you wrote about this and great article by the way! We have so many problems here to take care of and I think we should solve these problems before we move to space.

  • amykahl8

    I think that it isn’t good to just focus on issues that are prevalent on Earth, or that effect only the people in the U.S. for instance. If conditions ever got so bad on Earth we might need to figure out how to go elsewhere and we would then need technology that worked elsewhere as well. It is also really great that these things will improve life on Earth for the time being though. What do you think the next technological breakthrough will be?

  • Collin Smith

    Thanks for the article. I think it is a great insider’s input to the benefits for life on earth through technology advancements in outerspace with NASA’s efforts. I strongly believe that to have a well rounded life, one must be familiar with their environment. Their ENTIRE environment. This would include space exploration and the advantages of such are such helpful inventions as a solar powered refrigerator.

  • Julie Pascal

    What percent of the total US federal budget do you think goes to space travel and research?

    (Hint… it’s a *tiny fraction* of the NASA budget which is a *tiny fraction* of the US federal budget…. we can send a small rover to Mars for what it costs to produce a blockbuster Hollywood adventure movie.)

    Also, while this isn’t Garan’s argument, I’d like to suggest that, yes, we CAN change human behavior from space. Space exploration is the opposite of despair, and hope and belief in the amazing things humans can accomplish is far more likely to change human behavior for the better than a plan to fuss and nag and scold some more will do.

  • Julie Pascal

    Hi Phillip… those people throughout History in those areas that didn’t have refrigeration… DIED. They died in childhood, they died in childbirth, they died young, they died from crippling wasting disease, they died of simple cuts and broken bones. Now we have vaccines that require refrigeration… good enough for you, yes? So you don’t have to die.

  • Logan Dohmeier

    You can’t change human behavior in space.

  • Alyssa Borgrud

    I agree with your post about citizens being informed about the environment. So often we find people that say they care about the environment but only know about one little aspect. I think that we as worldly citizens really should be more informed about what is happening in the Ozone and space life. I think that if it was broadcasted more, that people would listen. Whenever learning about space, people seem interested because it involves a different type of environment that most will never experience. Do you agree that people would listen if space was broadcasted more?

  • Fernanda Quezada

    After reading an article by Thomas Fisher: Expanding Architecture, I believe if designers begin to build more so focused on the public concern and interest then I think this two way technology transfer is exactly the innovative thing we need to progress in welfare and health of all human beings because then we are designing for whomever and wherever they are no matter their inability to pay.

  • justin bowers

    Thank you for this article. It’s interesting because it’s an area I know almost nothing about, so being able to read it and understand how space exploration helps not only living in space but here on earth as well was very eye-opening. I was really fascinated by the energy-efficient refrigerator that could be used by medical centers in underdeveloped areas. Not only would it reduce cost, but increase availability of vaccines like you mentioned, which is extremely important when you’re talking about areas of the world that don’t have quite the access to medicine as other places do. One question I have for you is what was the experience like living at the bottom of the ocean for 18 consecutive days and nights?

  • justin bowers

    I must say after reading both of your comments, I’d have to agree with you Logan. Of course you aren’t saying that space exploration isn’t necessary or not beneficial, but when it comes to human behavior, you really can’t change it from space. The refrigerator is a cool idea, but Logan makes some good points about how unrealistic it is in terms of how big of an impact it could really have.

  • cameruca4

    I have to agree with jbrycewilson on this one. NASA’s research has changed the lives we live everyday because the research they conduct has led to so many useful innovations. That said often times we don’t recognize the usefulness of these innovations until after they have become engrained in our society. If we could get in front of this process and better understand how the research NASA is doing today will effect us 10 years from now, it will allow all of us to better understand how space exploration has such an enormous impact on our lives on earth.

  • lex_alwaysMIA

    Reality. There is no reason why that everyone is not informed about the current environmental issues. I never knew what was going on until I became older. Global warming and depletion of the ozone layer is something serious. That is a vital factor to our existence as a species. We need to focus more on our economy and less on space for the time being. Once there is a solution found then the continuation of space explorations can continue. Over the next five years we shall see what occurs.

  • natebbeard

    Are we exploring space travel because, similar to Elysium, we’re transitioning from Michio Kaku’s type 0 generation to type 1 where maybe only the top 1% of the human population will be able to afford the transition? Just kidding 😉

  • natebbeard

    I’m not totally convinced you can’t influence human behavior from space exploration, especially in the long term when considering technology through the lens of Moore’s Law or other patterns that make tech cheaper, therefore, more accessible to people in lower socioeconomic classes. If you define human behavior as a set of mental, social, emotional, and physical activities that evolve over time for the individual influenced by culture, business, values, etc… why not consider the possibility that certain breakthroughs in science discovered in aerospace engineering can directly impact human behavior here on earth? For example, the Bloom Box and energy, or the process of reverse engineering a product such as a stove or fridge to be more efficient.


    Access to free and unlimited information via the internet is coming as a consequence of technological advancements, and it is possible that this can inspire hope for people who previously didn’t have any. Hope in a new tomorrow, hope in a new frontier, hope in anything can directly influence human behavior in the short term. Maybe someone can see the amazing things coming from space exploration, and decide they would rather work towards that rather than the monotonous daily routines that could lead to boredom and poor short-sited actions… devil’s advocate I guess…

  • AmandaBrom

    Thank you for writing this article. I think it is important to get a greater understanding for the unknown. Right now there is a lot about space that we know little about. I think spending some time to try and find out some more information would help the world out greatly. Finding information out about space would help us find answers to the problems we have here. A lot of the problems we have in our world that are out of our control have little to no answers. I think if we explored space a little more we might be able to find these answers. Do you think that exploring space would help solve many unanswered questions we have on earth?

  • reuhl42

    This article is awesome. I’ve neve though about all the benefits of the money going to the space program since you don’t hear all that much about it. I think it’s awesome all of the useful things that we can use to help in the aid of people here. One question I do have though is how much money are we giving to the space program? And is there any way that we could reduce that amount so that we can help the people living in poverty down here? Thank you for this article!

  • KJ

    It is super interesting to see the positive results that come from NASA and other space tech companies out of space. It is super interesting and something I would like to investigate further. I think it is cool that the money we use on these technologies will someday help people all over the world. We can’t forget we are a global community and need to help other countries and people that couldn’t afford to research the technologies themselves.

  • Phillip DeVore

    News flash, people are dying now. Everywhere on every continent, it is what people do. Time and unforseen occurrences.

    I said elsewhere that the solar fridges for vaccines was admirable. But we don’t need to alter people’s life style like Mike E. was implying in Ron’s article. Westernizing the world is not the solution to everything.

  • Drew Cox

    Hey Ron thanks for the blog share. I love your passion for what you do and clearly see you have a pretty tight grasp on your idea’s. I’d like to know how being in space improves such things such as medicine and bettering the water. Why is it that it can be obtained in space but not anywhere on earth? Look forward to hearing from you!! Thanks again for the blog

  • katie yanke

    Thanks for the article Ron! I picked to read this article because I thought it was going to be about how much we spend on space travels and how much it was a waste and I was going to agree but this article really changed my opinion. When ever I hear about space travel I always hear about how much money it costs but I never hear about what astronauts are actually doing up there. Thanks for informing me about all the good and improvements for people the space program has provided!

  • Tammy Hartmann

    I often asked myself the same question, “Why should we spend money on
    space exploration when we have so many problems here on Earth?” I have
    been astonished by how amazing technology can be for many problems on Earth,
    like you said; the list of benefits is endless. How can we fix the
    issues among the impoverished in the world since solar panels can be too
    expensive to purchase? Some of the parents in my daughter’s Girl Scouts
    troop have complained about having to pay $5 for a field trip to a GirlBOTS
    workshop to learn about the solar system. I’ve told them time after time that
    it’s so important for children at young ages to start to explore such things.
    You never know what our children will become. Last week, my daughter, aged 7,
    learned about uses for robots, and built robots for multiple energy missions.

    Ron, thank you for posting your blog/article.

  • LevenhagAL14

    I appreciate this article however I am having a hard time understanding. I don’t know much about how space or orbitals, so when you described the “low Earth orbit” I don’t quite understand what you’re talking about, or when you describe the two way transfer of information between Earth and the space station. Could you please elaborate?

  • Julie Pascal

    Frankly, I’m appalled by the argument that something less than perfection is worthless and that people ought to just die and stop bothering us. I can’t see a single thing wrong with getting vaccines to people living in remote areas. It’s not being presented as the entire justification for the entire NASA budget. It’s a tiny piece of that. I don’t understand the knee-jerk need to denigrate something that seems like an extremely practical and utilitarian good.

    As for changing human behavior… unless we do it at the point of a gun, it’s as easy to do from space as from our keyboards and living rooms. Human nature is about a battle between hope and despair and examples of what humanity can accomplish, the heights we can reach, is an inspiration to all people everywhere. Preaching defeat and hopelessness is actually sort of vile.

  • Julie Pascal

    Why is it up to you?

    I honestly want to know why anyone thinks they *they* have to decide if some teenaged boy in the middle of the Congo ought to have an iPhone. Don’t you think that it should be up to him? Don’t villagers in some quaint, primitive, colorful and lovely place get to decide for themselves to “Westernize” or not? We protect CHILDREN. That’s who we protect. People in other parts of the world are every bit as actualized adult humans as adults in the “West” and it’s not our JOB to make them our children.

  • DrivenbySuccess

    Yes, that is exactly it Justin Bowers. Earth is where we are and maybe there are things that can effect us if not addressed out of space. What those things are? I dont know but I know that we are having our own things down on earth such as being broke college students at Uw-Whitewater and unless there are money trees out of space we still have a ton of work to do here.

  • lepkowskjj29

    I agree with Logan. We need to focus on the problems that we have here on earth before we worry about changing human behavior in space.

  • anp042

    Interesting stuff. I by no means know enough about this topic to offer an educated comment. I do, however, support space exploration. Before Christopher Columbus set off across the Atlantic (back when we thought the world was flat), there was poverty, disease, injustice, etc. If we never explored the unknown because of that, who knows what would have happened.

  • Phillip DeVore

    I am not the one trying to change people’s cultures. I am advocating for allowing them to live their own lives. What in my posts gave you the impression I wanted them to change?

  • BartuchGR11

    Thank you for posting this blog. I found this article very interesting because I didn’t realized that using space technology and research has helped us become more technology and green friendly. I heard about the solar powered fridge before and how it would help keep medicines cool in underdeveloped countries. However, I never knew that the solar power fridge was invented in space. I agree that space research has helped us come up with ideas to help underdeveloped countries live a more normal life. I do think we need to continue supporting space research.

  • Kait Harman

    This may seem like a simple answer to me. Our earth started in pieces in outer space. We need to look at the outside of the picture not just the main piece. We all know our earth has issues to fix so why not educate ourselves around our earth where it all began. I am curious to what reasons people have told you we should not look for problems outside out earth? What were some arguments?

  • tayler_schroeder

    This post is very intriguing because you never normally hear much about space programs. I’m interested to learn more!

  • ZakFritz

    This is new information to me. I did not know that we could do these things with space technology. I did not know we could actually help the with space exploration. Is there any possibility I might actually see space technology in my own home one day?

  • Josh Pritchard

    Sorry that he hasn’t gotten back to you Drew. I would like to know the same thing though. It’s amazing the kinds of technology we have today. We can send people to space and so much more. But how much money is the US willing to spend on the space program when we have so much poverty and homeless people here on Earth? What can we do to help this?

  • Keiichi

    The solar powered refrigerator would be necessary stuff for people who are going to live in space in the future. I hope living in earth would be same as living in space using our technology. I will be happy to see to other new invention to make more convenient and comfortable in space.

  • nvuong

    All that AND space is awesome! Besides all the fascinating creatures on earth, I don’t much care about the surface of the ocean, but I would love to be sent to Mars!

  • duongh1

    I think space exploration is a very long run investment. We might not realize its benefits now but after many years, we might find those investments were not in vain. For instance, people invest money in solving difficult math problems or trying to build a new physics theory, but we might have to wait 100 years later to find an application for those.

  • Frank_Stanek

    Given all the technological advancements we use in our everyday lives it’s rather short sighted to write off space exploration as a waste of money. The amount of new mind expanding knowledge and advancements we have acquired through the space programs are amazing. Besides, love it or hate it the human hunger for knowledge and exploration are not something that will go away.

  • Andersonjc16

    i kind of agree with both sides i feel more money can be spent on medicines and vaccines but do believe there is more to experience when it come to space and space exploration. there is so much that i feel can be learned but also would like to cure disease and other current health issues.

  • jack lomax

    I cannot justify space exploration. Not just yet anyway. We are nowhere near technologically advanced to make the most of the money we’ve spent going into space. Its like we are jumping over the problems on the surface to get to the “cool space stuff.” Priorities! This invention is awesome and looks like it will make a difference. But I just feel there are other things that need to be sorted out (like cancer!!) before we start spending millions going into space to land on planets that can’t sustain life anyway!

  • Daniel John

    I really enjoyed reading this article. It’s crazy to think about all of the great things that NASA can provide to improve the lives of us on earth. The solar powered machinery will be great for the people that lack access to electricity. I can’t wait to see what else can be solar powered to save money. Thank you for your post it was very interesting.

  • Steven Bichler

    I have always been very fascinated by space and what is out there. That being said I always wondered why we spent so much money on something that wasn’t one of the top problems in this country and didn’t see benefits. After reading your article I’m a lot more money for money in space programs because I did not know or learn about many of the benefits in the space program that help all people, so thank you for writing this it changed my view on money in space programs.

  • barczakdm08

    completely agree with you, space has always been very interesting for me as well. I never knew how much money was actually going into space exploration, but I feel like if we keep advancing in technology our exploration would uncover a lot of unanswered questions we have about our universe/world. That being said I do think our issues on our planet are a little bit more important, but both in my opinion both are very important for the human race to advance.

  • barczakdm08

    agreed, as a human race we are always wanting more. Space exploration is a great way to expand our knowledge about our planet, NASA has done some great things that benefit us all. Cutting expenses on space exploration would disappoint me but it’s a realistic option that I think many favor.

  • Katie Ackerman

    I certainly never realized how much space exploration could really effect us in such different ways. “Technology developed for the space program is helping us to: fight cancer, provide clean water, provide clean energy, have a better understanding of our Earth and climate change, and a better understanding of the human body.” I think that is amazing!

  • Katie Ackerman

    “Technology developed for the space program is helping us to: fight cancer, provide clean water, provide clean energy, have a better understanding of our Earth and climate change, and a better understanding of the human body.” This was a comment he left earlier, and I think that is absolutely amazing. I would like to know how exactly these things are done though.

  • Kevin Weber

    Thanks for this article! I did not realize what space exploration can do for technology here on earth. Based on your article it is shown to make great improvements in daily technology. Unfortunately with all the problems we have here on earth, I don’t think space exploration is one of our biggest concerns. I’m not saying we should cut space exploration at all, I just believe we should spend less on it. I believe poverty and research on diseases should be are main focus here on earth. Although we should still continue NASA because it has made many discoveries that has benefited us.

  • Max Rude

    Though Space exploration is a great adventure I feel like it’s not going to end in a treasure chest. We have gained many items of everyday from the nasa program such as velcro. However, is there really a point to go into space? Do we have a end mission.

  • Max Rude

    Like a life treating problem like the ones we face everyday

  • Branden Unger

    Thanks for the article! I think we should spend less money on trying to improve things on earth from space, and more money on things that need to be taken care of such as the issue of extreme poverty and other things like that. Although I also do agree with using space as a way to develop medicines to help people as well. We should focus more about the things that we could improve on earth before we try to do it from space and we might be able to make a change for the better. Thanks for the article!

  • IndartoEpriladinata

    Indeed, the idea of the solar powered refrigerator is simple, but it may be significant in a place where electricity supply does not exist.

  • Jeovany_Espino

    Another thing to point out about your questions about the solar fridge is
    how “efficient” is the fridge and what is the life span of it? Are these
    eco-friendly materials? How does it perform in sub-sahara desert,
    india, and other places? The article states “for efficient use when
    sunlight is absent, and works anywhere in the world.” Although it might
    work but most likely it won’t work equally as well just anywhere in the
    world. Just something that came to mind when reading your post

  • Keal7685

    This was a really eye opening article to me and I definitely have a new perspective of space investment. I understood before I read this that a lot of great things have come from the ISS, but I did not realize the extent of it. I am not 100% convinced that the amount of money we spend on space is needed but I am certainly getting there. I think we should use the space research and have them work more closely with anti-poverty efforts to help poverty more efficiently and effectively.

  • Chris Williams

    I believe that the money we spend on the efforts of space exploration should be spent more wisely… Though I also believe the money we spend on the efforts to keep the world running should be spent more wisely. When I see things like the fridge thats is explained in the blog I see a better way of saving money and energy. So my question is why is things like this not on the market? Why do we spend and spend when we can save? Through the efforts of space exploration I think that there is way to much money put in to that. I get that It’s about seeing what’s really out there and discovering new things, but it’s a little ridiculous about how much money is really being put in to this when we should be spending it on problems and everyday life.

  • Lindsay Burke

    I found this article very interesting! I think that it is very important to be continually innovative and looking beyond what is directly in front of us to do this. Exploring space is a perfect place to extend research to. On the other hand, I think that it is possible that we might be overspending on space research give the current condition of our economies, and necessity of specialized development here on earth. In the long run, things like the solar powered refrigerator will be very helpful to places without electrical power, but I think that what is immediately needed is not a refrigeration tool, but possibly that vaccinations that they would contain. At thins point, it may be very difficult to cheaply manufacture and distribute these products world wide, further drawing money away from programs that could directly improve quality of lives. At this time, I just do not see an immense amount of results coming from space exploration, so funneling a small part of their budget away to direct research on earth may be beneficial.

  • katie bartlein

    Wow! Such an awesome idea. I get the idea behind working in space and being able to relate that back to problems on earth, but do all space inventions have a double life? What others kinds of things have been developed to better ‘both worlds?’ Lastly, I wanted to know if the refrigerator has actually been put to use here on earth? Other then those few questions i would have to agree that by using space technology we can better the atmosphere and place here on earth.

  • stangleram13

    thank you for posting this. I do agree on your point space lab. This is going to be useful because for backgrouned knowledge. Do you get a lot of questions about space.

  • lshortreed

    Human behavior in space yea right. I agree with you. Human behavior is only chosen by you

  • clemonsel02

    This is a very interesting article! I honestly did not know that from space exploration we have come up with so many different inventions that’s you could never figured out without the exploration. I understand that these are very expensive endeavors but it has so much benefit for the world we live in. Yet, I still believe there are many things here on earth we need to be concerned with. We need to be concerned with there still being sexual slavery of woman in third world countries, maybe waiting to create the technology of the future. That is one spot where I disagree.

  • byrnesbk24

    I couldn’t agree more!!! I do think that space exploration is important but not in the range of billions and billions. We need to save our planet before we go out looking for others. We can barely help ourselves as it is, so any money, resources and time should be spent fixing the many problems here.

  • Collin Smith

    Absolutely. I believe when it comes to space and even the darkest depths of the ocean, people are given the opportunity to let their imagination run wild with ideas. It introduces a whole new train of thought that creates an “anything is possible” mentality. I know for a fact that I would personally be interested in watching more space broadcasts if they were more widely shown. How about you?

  • masterdan55

    I agree with you! Space exploration is important but shouldn’t be the top choice of spending. Like you said we need to save ourselves before we can look for alternatives. I mean we know more about space than the ocean floor.

  • Marian326

    Way to go Julie! I agree with you that the refrigerator is just a “tiny piece” of a very large puzzle. When I read the question in the title of this article, my first thought was what exploring space can teach us here on earth. As the author points out, the lessons learned in space are applicable for use in developing countries. I also see the opportunity to expand the horizons of ones mind through new situations. Sometimes we need to be in a different environment, presented with different problems, to be able to come up with innovative solutions that may benefit many.

  • Joseph

    Logan couldn’t agree more. I think that space exploration is a key in todays society. However i do not think its that important that we spend billions upon billions of dollars on space exploration. I believe we should stick all that money on to things that will truly benefits us civilians on earth.

  • Brittney Glende

    I agree with you Katie, I never realized how much space exploration could really effect us in such different ways either. The certain technology that was developed for the space program is helping us fight cancer, provide clean water, energy, and understanding our earth and climate change. How does certain technology for the space program help with this though, I mean it is outstanding that it does but I am curious as to HOW!? Great article otherwise!!

  • Katie Ackerman

    I have a feeling the answer to that may be hard to grasp, but if it can be done then I am all for it.

  • Caitlin Donohue

    Wow very interesting article! I am always amazed with everything when it comes to NASA, space, ect. Before reading this article, I knew nothing about NASA battery-free solar technology. I think that’s wildly interesting that I can be used to cool milk, produce products in under-developed regions around the world and, in turn, creating economic opportunities and improving lives on Earth. That is very interesting and also very great!

  • pinsolera

    I see your point. There is a lot going on in this world that is so destructive it is unbelievable. Violence, debt, and many other things that are going on. I do believe that space travel is very important because the curiosity of the unknown in space is important to us. But should we spend billions on it? I’m not sure. I do believe that we should focus more of our attention right now on bettering not only our planet, but our attitudes and actions on our planet as well. That is vital to our survival.

  • Caitlin Snyder

    Thank you for this article, but unfortunately I think we are overspending on space exploration. I do find space travel and research important, but not how much we are spending on it. There are many problems, especially in the health field, that I think we should focus more on. I hope one day we can find a cure for cancer. I personally think we need to spend more money on the people of our country rather than space exploration and other things like that. The people are living here now, and we can’t waste time and money on things that are not bettering our lives as of right now.

  • TeamGarvin

    I see your point also, but like he mentioned in the article sometimes the answer is in the stars. I beleive yes we should be spending our money on our home and planet that we live on, but what happens when it is gone. What if some day we do need to leave this planet, what if. And we have to start from scratch with nothing known, going in blind. I think it’s better to prepare for the worse than prepare for nothing at all. Don’t get me wrong millions and millions is a lot of money since our country has money problems. I guess I have mixed feelings about it.

  • TeamGarvin

    You mention it is a small fraction, which yes it is, but where does it stop. With our countries financial status small fractions seem to add up into trillions. Don’t get me wrong I agree with you 100% we all believe that their is amazing things out there. Lets just hope some day that it does change human behavior.


    Very interesting article and glad your sharing. Just wandering if those funds used into real society like anti-poverty organization, would that be even more help those region where lack of electricity accessibility to better build the infrastructure
    ? Because space research may have to cost lots of money and sometimes not even see the benefits of the money that we are spend. Also we can also access solar power on the earth and earlier for doing research.

  • Max Rude

    I also agree with Logan.

  • Max Rude

    Should we look into the ocean first before concurring the outer space? Masterdan brought a good point up about how little we know about the ocean.

  • Rick Brill

    Money grubbers who want to keep grubbing..

  • anujaya

    Just reading the comments, many people keep saying that we should spend less on space exploration and more on medical advances and other things close to home. Ron Garan just explained and gave a few examples of why space exploration can be so beneficial to people on the tangible/practical side. But, I think the intangible side of space exploration is often overlooked. The delight and wonder that space exploration gives us should not be overlooked. There’s something to be said for doing something because it’s interesting and we’re curious about. If anything, I feel like our knowledge of space humbles us as we realize we’re not the center of the universe.

  • Lulu, The Reaper of Souls

    actually the US spends less than 1% of the tax money on NASA and space budget. Making Avatar cost more than the annual budget of NASA. We spend lot less money on it than we think. Also HIV is becoming less and less relevant nowadays, most infected people can live quite a full life in developed counties.

  • Lulu, The Reaper of Souls

    totally agree with you, I know it’s important to help the poor, but technological advancement is the last thing we should give up for something that can’t really be solved.

  • Lulu, The Reaper of Souls

    cause military is the best place to put our money right?

  • LeiderGM20

    I really liked this article. I never knew space exploration was so important. The solar powered refrigeration system is something that is so simple yet so necessary for many different underdeveloped countries, You also mentioned that every year NASA does one contribution invention, which I think is fantastic for so many people. So even though NASA does require a lot of money, they are helping change thousands of lives all the time. Thank you for sharing this blog with us.

  • Mattbrowne22

    Thank you Ron for this article.
    I agree that spending money on NASA’s space program is vital to helping improve travel through space as well as technological assistance on Earth. Like you mentioned in your blog, NASA has helped address some of the major issues on Earth such as electricity. I feel that more time/money should be spent on innovations that could better the Earth rather than designing gadgets that could be used in outer space. While I believe that it’s important to continue research on outer space, the question I would like to ask is this: Isn’t it more important to focus on major issues down here on Earth that could impact millions of lives? I’m not saying that there isn’t life in outer space, but I feel that NASA could better serve the world by first focusing on innovations that could improve society rather than channeling money into the “race for space”.

  • Kelly Martin

    All this new technology seems really great and it has a good idea in mind, I do not believe that it is necessary. Why would we need a refrigerator for the moon if the moon doesn’t have a grocery store to buy food or the capabilities to grow crops. the whole concept doesn’t make any sense to me. The efforts put forth for helping developing countries is wonderful. there are many ways we can help them without spending millions on NASA technology.

  • Mia Tucker

    Thank you for pointing out that we do not actually spend all that much on NASA and that it is important to put some of our money there for innovations like the ones mentioned in the article. However, to say that HIV is becoming “less and less relevant nowadays” is both incorrect and insensitive. Although there are constant improvements being made to medications, many people that suffer from HIV still live extremely difficult lives in the first world. In addition, the problem of HIV lies mostly in developing countries, not in the first world. Even with the growth of good medications, many socioeconomic factors and stigmas hinder those who are infected from receiving medication. It is certainly far from being a relevant global problem.

  • Mia Tucker

    Thank you for posting this article! I have always thought of space exploration/research in the realm of innovations, but never in the realm of social innovations. I hope that more people become aware of the work that NASA does to help the developing world and the medical world. Keep doing good work!

  • Theresa Fitzsimmons

    Thank you for sharing this information. I think it is great that NASA has made these really amazing discoveries but it is still very hard to say that some of these discoveries will solve the serious issues we face here on earth. I really like the solar powered inventions and it is a clean way to use energy. I don’t see this being put into use in many places on earth though. Are there any specific countries that you know of that are using a lot of these solar powered products?

  • younglinkh200

    I thought that this was a very good article, he really shows all of the pros to space travel and research. I think that it’s really cool that there are so many more things that you can learn about while up in space than you can while on Earth. The solar-powered fridge is also really awesome. It can be used for so many ways other than just for bringing vaccines to countries or for poor people who can’t pay for electricity, the possibilities are endless. Space travel and research is certainly an advocate for creating a better world for everyone.

  • nikkisixx101

    wow most people on this site are absolutely ignorant of just how much scientific development helps with life here on earth and just how massive a part of that development is space funding.

    Spending money on space exploration is DIRECTLY fuelling technologies that are curring diseases, finding better ways of powering various things, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the last few decades ect.

    if anything the budget needs to be massively increased.

    Have you people seen the pie chart of how our money is spent? you cant even see the nasa budget on it yet you want to cut that while things like the military industrial complex or pensions for senators eat up a HUGE portion of our money and alot of that money is corrupted and WASTED.

    Everyone LOVES the stuff we have nowadays with the phones and internet and all that. Thats ALL space dollars right their. yet people are like “ok, im cool, i dont want anything else amazing, back to farming my field!”. jesus, we have just reached the tip of the iceburg. virtual reality, space tourism, wireless power i can go on and on and on.

    thank god the people posting on here are not the ones making decisions.

  • Mizu4TheWin

    This is such an interesting article. I didn’t even realize that solar panels were invented in space. I want to know what else was and could be researched in space.

  • sergio moyano

    What good use will a solar powered refrigerator for the moon be to us if we are not on the moon right now? Does this invention mean that we will be trying to stay on the moon for a period of time if it works? I think space travel is a great thing to invest in as a world to try and see what is out there but after traveling to the moon I feel like space travel is kind of dead. With nothing to look forward to. its awesome the solar powered refrigerator can work anywhere, maybe we should try and use that places on earth instead of the moon and try to “fix the problems we have here”

  • sergio moyano

    but what benefits would there be for it in space or the moon where we currently are not? it is a neat invention for people on earth but do you think it’ll help at all for the moon?

  • Phillip Ellard

    I think that the money being spent is justified. We should keep expanding our horizons. there will always be problems here on earth. The way I see it, theres a certain point of no return, things here on earth will keep getting worse, so at least we can broaden our horizon in the mean time. And if you think we are spending a lot of money on the space industry then you are wrong. Obama is more of a wasteful source of power than anything.

  • Anto George

    It’s quite interesting to see the actual numbers on the amount we spend on space exploration vs. anti-poverty efforts. To be honest, I don’t mind paying a bit more in taxes, if it results in the advancement of science by leaps and bounds every year and benefiting humanity in the long run!

  • srmart10

    I enjoyed how he tied in practical use of the refrigerator for the 2 billion people on earth and for the use of it on the moon. I feel that as long as we are improving technology here on earth and for in the sky we are doing a great justice for the next generation.

  • Bangyan Zhang

    I agree with your point. We should realize the problem which one is more urgent. Obviously, we should pay attention on our planet more. Still, we should explore the universe. But, protecting our own planet seems more important.

  • Justin Rudick

    I think the NASA funding for space research and exploration is a great expense for our country and for the world. I don’t think that the small fraction that we pay is what is damaging this country’s economy or hurting other areas that need the money. Its the money that is being sent out with no for sure way to track or to insure it will be used correctly that is hurting us (ie. wars, helping other countries fight their wars, medical for the entire world, allowing funds to protect and aid illegal immigrants, etc.). These things is a very expensive road this country travels every day and it doesn’t need to be. I believe having the funds to explore space is something we can look forward to to learn more about our lives and the solar system, and at the same time helps us understand living conditions on Earth. So much has positively changed our way of doing things because of the research and observations found during space exploration. On top of the things we learn, seeing that us as human beings, are up there and doing these types of operations is a very cool thing and gives you a sense of pride. It is true, money needs to start being accounted for and watched where it is spent better, but NASA funding is not a negative expense and should continue for years to come.

  • kyliekielsky

    This was a very interesting read, and I agree with a lot of the points made. I think that space exploration is hugely important. However, there are a lot of issues here on earth that I believe to be more pressing.

  • znazarzai1

    Disillusioned with the many social issues in the United States, I often approach international development done by the US with the same lens that some might question space travel and research. I always thought, why are we spending billions to build schools and clinics around the world when there are so many people here that could use that aid or some many communities that are in need of better schools and clinics. Ultimately, I realized that cutting from one area is not necessarily going to lead to improvements in a different area. Most programs that we spend on results in a number of benefits that we may not directly associate with that initial program.

  • brandon bell

    I think that we should keep perusing space exploration to the fullest. Even though there are a lot of problem on earth I do believe that a lot of solutions can come from space. Also were else do we look to space is the new frontier. Space is the next place we can expand to the more we know about it the smoother the transition
    will be.

  • Csayban

    This has opened my eyes. I am definitely someone that thinks we should be spending less money on space exploration and more on fixing issues here on earth. I had no idea so much of what is done on the ISS is to help solve problems here. I still think the amount of money spent should be monitored. Simple things here on earth could be funded that would greatly help with many issues.

  • alemoin1

    This is a great viewpoint on something most people don’t think about. I think the common conclusion is that space is traveling to other planets. No one ever thinks or even knows about what else occurs outside our atmosphere. It has already made me rethink what aspects of our lives have been changed by space travel.

  • Jack Delabar

    To complain about spending money on the new frontier is ridiculous. The percentage of our tax dollars and other money that actually goes to NASA is very small and it’s actually to a good cause. If everyone knew some of the, in my opinion, stupid stuff our government spends our money on, I think some opinions would be swayed…Thanks for the post, Ron.t

  • lpierce34

    I don’t really understand why anyone has such a large problem with this research in space. People are working on changing human behavior caused problems down here on earth too. Does that mean we shouldn’t be doing research in space too? I think there are huge huge benefits that come from the findings of NASA, really monumental benefits.

  • lpierce34

    And yes thank you Lulu, less than 1%! Thats not very much money. But there are incredible innovations that come from research in space so I don’t see why anyone has a problem with this if it is improving the world we live in. And yes, as Lulu said, HIV is much less prevalent now then it used to be but work is still being done to try to find a cure for it; its not like nothing is being done and all of our money is being spent on space explorations.

  • Carly Konkol

    I agree with you byrnesbk24. Spending money on our planet should be our first and foremost priority, but how do you know something “out there” won’t help us with something here on earth? There is so much we can learn from space and I hope we continue to do so. Spending billions of dollars isn’t necessary, but I hope space exploration only continues to grown in the generations after me and doesn’t die out.

  • Lulu, The Reaper of Souls

    I didn’t want to say HIV is not dangerous but like you said it can really only spread in third world countries and among junkies. Since the disease is so well known it has harder time spreading. Also some people are immune to it as well.

  • Lulu, The Reaper of Souls

    Actually I think that last catchphrase is wrong. We have observed a small fraction of the space around us. Right now more money is spent on making hollywood blockbusters than the annual budget of NASA. You should look up things that cost more than NASA, you would be suprised. If anything I would happily se an 50% cut in any country’s military budget.

  • Vernon Clowes

    I can agree that there has been some good scientific research and invention that has come from space exploration. Though, what good will the application of this great technology do if our economy is so tangle that citizens can’t take advantage of this technology. Spend the money at home to relieve the national debt first. Then we can thing about billions for space.

  • hj2

    I agree that huge amount of money is going to space exploration. On the other hand, there are lots of problems on earth that we have to spend money on. However, I disagree with the author. You have to think of both aspects not just one.

  • Trista Radloff

    These numbers are really interesting! I thought we would spend a lot more of tax money on NASA. I do think that we need to understand or at least try to understand space so we can better understand the world in which we live.

  • Hannah Leggett-Hintz

    I definitely agree with your views Chris. I think there is a very large amount of money being spent on things that don’t honestly make much sense to me. I understand that space exploration has its reasons and purposes and that they aren’t completely unreasonable. I just think that there are so many things about our country that could use the money more wisely than trying to explore some places we know so little about. Who’s to say the places being explored in space aren’t just as messed up and in need of fixing as our crazy world?

  • jacob shingles

    How about cut the defense budget and use the extra money for space exploration.

  • Mia Tucker

    HIV can spread in many more places than just third world countries or amongst “junkies.” HIV can spread in a myriad of ways and even in the US there are many drug-free people who suffer from the disease. The amount of the human population that is immune is fewer than 1%. Simply, it s still an enormous global problem–even with the advancements in treatments and prevention that have been made–and you shouldn’t attempt to undermine that.

  • tygonzalez

    I agree that we are way over spending on space exploration. I do support space exploration and believe that there are so many universes out there that we need to explore, but on a budget.

  • Phillip Ellard

    Given all the technological advancements we use in our everyday lives it’s rather short sighted to write off space exploration as a waste of money. The amount of new mind expanding knowledge and advancements we have acquired through the space programs are amazing. Besides, love it or hate it the human hunger for knowledge and exploration are not something that will go away.

  • Ashley Easterly

    I’m more than half a year late to this discussion, but I’m joining the conversation anyway.

    It is unimaginable to me that people think that space isn’t worth our time. There are more stars in our universe than there are grains of sand on Earth, which is INSANE! There’s so much we don’t know, and so much left to discover.

    Maybe it’s because I grew up in the town where Johnson Space Center is located, my house just a short 10 minute drive from NASA’s front gates, but I have always been absolutely fascinated by everything NASA has done.

    SPACE IS SO COOL. We aren’t spending nearly enough money on space programs. There is so much we can learn, and there will always be more to learn.

    I understand that we have a multitude of problems here on Earth, but those problems won’t be solved by simply cutting space funding.

  • Ashley Easterly

    Thank you for this clarification. To imply that HIV is only spread in “third world countries and among junkies” is incredibly misinformed and insensitive. There are so many communities vulnerable to HIV worldwide, and to say otherwise is simply wrong.

  • sergio moyano

    i think that just because we have issues on earth does not mean we cant get out and explore, this was almost the same issue hundreds of years ago when Christopher Columbus wanted to explored other parts of the world but had similar issues back then, something good came out of his exploration, same thing could happen with space, we might find better minerals or metals to use on earth and help us grow. Exploration on space is encouraging us to find new ways and grow in technology.

  • sergio moyano

    i agree completely with your comment, back in the day the US spent millions on trying to figure out how to use a pen on space, what the Russians did? well they save a lot by using a pencil, cost like this can be saved and use properly on other things.

  • amberbrandimore

    I never thought about the fact that you can transfer the knowledge of supporting life in space to surviving on Earth where there are few resources. Its great to be able to support science with space travel but use the knowledge from that to better lives on Earth. Great article!

  • eurosphere

    Not sure if someone has already brought this up, but while arguments advocating for research and exploration of space are compelling (indeed, I recall hearing somewhere that for every $1 spent on NASA there is an $8 return in the form of research and technology), the same can not be said for defense. In fact, it’s the opposite; funding defense is destructive, elitist, and neither creative nor productive. Find out more here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/07/everything-chuck-hagel-needs-to-know-about-the-defense-budget-in-charts/

  • Jack Delabar

    Well thought out arguments. I read your comment and then read the article again with a bit of a different point of view. I believe in spending money on better technologies in many different facets, not just space exploration, but I can’t say that I am okay with taking money away from anti poverty.

  • Jaelyn Edwards

    I think space exploartionis important and I like the by products of space endevors. Like the article stated, cool new products are being made from th advancements in technology due to space missions. Its a win, win situation, by continueing to spend money onspce explaortion we gain a better understanding of the universe along with humane capailities. Sure alot of money is spent, however the benefit reeped are too great to pass up

  • karinaz10

    I love the concept, but when will it take effect here on Earth? I read a similar article about oil dependency. The thought of alternative sources of fuel has existed for many years, yet no action has been taken. Is space exploration the same? When will these new materials, medicines and methods become effective?

  • Eric S. Johansson

    I normally don’t respond to long-delayed comments but I wanted to thank you for your kind and considered response. I too not entirely final taking money away from antipoverty programs but we need to remember there are two types of antipoverty programs we should be supporting.

    The first type is the urgent care type. I need food, I need shelter, I need medical care. If you don’t care care of these things first, no amount of job-training or welfare to work programs have a chance of succeeding. The second is the longer term and this is where we need to think carefully. We can’t make private industry give people jobs. We can’t give people jobs with the government otherwise the right-wingers will have a justifiable field day. Instead we need to think about how to put antipoverty money into infrastructure projects or research to grow new jobs. And this is where the space program comes in. It’s one of many facets of government-funded research that can turn into jobs for people in the economy at large.

  • tspurloc

    I appreciate the innovation noted in this article. I will not comment one way or the other about whether or not space programs should be funded, but I like that they use what they learn in other fields.

  • Jim Spellman

    No, they didn’t. You’ve allowed yourself to be sucked in by the myth of an urban legend. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/613/1

  • Jim Spellman

    Then you should look no further than the mirror in front of you. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/03/24/20-ways-we-blow-our-money/6826633/

  • Jim Spellman

    So, let me see if I understand you correctly. You’re saying that “cutting expenses on space exploration” (NASA’s budget=$17 billion this year) to feed the hungry is a more “realistic option” than wasting $165 billion in food that we simply throw away (an amount 9.7 times larger than NASA’s budget) each year? http://www.mainstreet.com/article/americans-waste-nearly-half-all-food-165-billion-worth-each-year

  • Jim Spellman

    As opposed to social welfare handouts to those who refuse to work for their own keep (or are here illegally), right? http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/21/editorial-the-not-so-great-society/

  • kelsey

    I think it’s great NASA can transform its technology to be used in
    everyday live and solve practical issues here on Earth. It would be
    great if more effort was spent on developing products that helped the
    world and society in the long run, providing sustainable solutions for
    the developing world that wont harm the environment or cost too much

  • Jim Spellman

    What? Early detection and treatment of breast cancer isn’t a good enough reason for you? http://io9.com/5934257/what-the-fck-has-nasa-done-for-you-lately-more-than-you-think

  • orvisbj27

    As a veteran of the Air and Space world power US Air Force, I fully support any and all exploration to support our ever decreases natural resources. What I specifically enjoyed about your article is the solar powered refrigerator. My friends and I take a canoe trip every year where we spend several days floating in the sun. Every year all our ice and coolers cook and melt by the end of the second day. This year we decided to begin using solar energy to keep at least some crucial food products cool. Although our preliminary go’s were not so good reading about Mike Ewert and David Bergeron gives me hope that we can one year succeed in not having to purchase any inefficient ice.

  • Catey Navarro

    Im impressed with the arguments made as well and I think when it comes to money and technology there is no clear cut answer. I think the title of this article covers it pretty well in my eyes.

  • Catey Navarro

    I think your comment is well thought out and has a lot of information in it. Entrepreneurs have the potential to help millions of people but how do we decide who gets the help and how they are helped. Our problems are most definitely larger then ever and every dollar matters when its on a global scale.

  • Ashlee Wilson

    This article is incredible! I have never considered space exploration in this light. What is the best way for the average U.S. citizen to support NASA’s operations and missions? Donations? Talking with legislators? Companies? Friends?

  • James

    We need to continue space exploration to keep the society going the best that we can. It’s going to seem a little inhuman at the moment but you need to believe in what those scientist are doing and believe they will have another huge break through. This solar powered refrigerator can help out a great deal with the problem on hunger in places in the world where they can preserve their food. It’s always good to be aware of the numbers but we can’t stop moving forward.

  • B Keng

    Space exploration is the pinnacle of physics and engineering. Without it many of the technology that we have today wouldn’t have been brought to light. Such as solar energy and computers. There are many things to be learn from space and about space. The knowledge obtain is most definitely worth it.

  • rtcooper

    Space exploration will continue to be an important enterprise for our country simply because we can learn so much about problems on Earth by looking at everything that surrounds our planet.

  • Adam

    I too am absolutely amazed with NASA and space etc. I find anything and everything to do with space absolutely fascinating and a place with never ending possibilities and unanswered questions.Technology that benefits our understanding of the universe as well as simply help us out on earth is terrific

  • Amanda Wood

    The arguments might be valid and with the world growing it is always a good idea to think “outside the box”, but I am not sure that these inventions for the world are the best for the solid world we live in. Money needs to be spent properly now a days because it is so scarce

  • JeremyWahl

    Such a very interesting article and good read. I have always been a fan of space and knew that NASA studies space and everything but have no idea what in detail NASA does. I had no idea they created solar refrigeration technology, which is pretty sweet. It is also amazing how it is benefiting countries who do not have refrigeration and electricity. NASA never seems to fail to amaze me and I can not wait for the next invention to better the world.

  • Kyle moore

    Now I just went and saw the move Interstellar. Might I say great movie and well done. But it opened my mind up because what if traveling through a black hole leads to another dimensions. What if there are other planets? We do not know but I would love to volunteer to try and see what is out there because eventually all the resources here on Earth will be gone and another plant will need to be inhabited.

  • Kyree Brooks

    Agreed with this article in many ways because space is one source of how we understand the Earth. Without space exploration it would be difficult to understand why somethings happen on it. As well, technology will continue be produced to better understand our world and what is missing.

  • Chris Williams

    I loved this article from the title to the conclusion. However, spending money on space exploration has always been pointless in many ways to me. Why spend billions when we are already in crippling debt has always been a big problematic question to me. Although it is a very interesting article I still feel very firm on the negatives of spending money on space exploration.

  • Chris Williams

    It’s crazy once you see the numbers “on paper”. We need to focus on social problems on his earth before we explore other planets.

  • hirthjp18

    Those are some crazy numbers. It definitely shows your point. The flow of funding is definitely uneven, hopefully they realize this and decided to adjust there funding.

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    wow great reply! seeing the actual amount of money spent on space is crazy insane. i agree with you, the things we could be spending that money on instead of the space exploration program would make a big difference world wide in poverty stricken countries.

  • warnlofjc20

    Without sounding like too much of a downer, it’s unrealistic to think that we’re ever going to not have problems that would take precedence over something like space exploration so saying that we shouldn’t spend money on it when we have other problems is basically saying “We’re never going to do anything in space”. We could also eventually get to the point where we can live on the moon or even other planets but that will never happen without spending money on space exploration.

  • Caleb Franklin

    This is an amazing article and it touches on a subject that the majority of us Americans, know little about. It’s very easy for someone to write off space travel and say it’s a waste of tax dollars, so it’s great to see all that it offers to us as a society. Thanks for the article and personal perspective.

  • Cossioj14

    wow seeing these numbers puts this in prospective and gives you a better understanding of everything. I think space research exploration is important though.

  • Austin Dorman

    Couldn’t agree with you more Caitlin! Our biggest problem in the U.S. right now, in my opinion, is health. People have been brainwashed to believe different things. There just doesn’t tend to be enough resources for people out there to go and learn the truth about health, or how to be healthy. To me, yeah space is cool, but these billions of dollars could go a long way here on earth improving our countries obesity problem.

  • Austin Dorman

    Providing information for people on living healthier lives isn’t extremely expensive, it is just unfortunately not a priority to us for some reason. Although space travel and technology is cool, if the world is too unhealthy to live any amount of time then there is no one to share these findings with. What we really need to do is focus some of this money into getting people living healthier lives.

  • Camillewuensch

    I think that if what we are doing in space and learning up there could really benefit the living on Earth why not spend the money? If they are coming up with new interventions to help us I would be all for it. These new items would be helpful in many different places and can help out the third world countries and help improve their life. Let’s be real here the spending we will all pay for it some how so why not look into what they are doing and if we have an idea for something to put in our thoughts.

  • thompsonjm99

    awesome article! I can’t believe that amount of money that we spend on space travel. I very much agree that we are spending too much, especially on something that so many of us know almost nothing about. I do think we need to pay a lot of attention to what goes on in space because it can affect our lives here on earth, but do we really need to spend that much money ?

  • thomas kearney

    I really thought this article was interesting. In my opinion, I feel like there should be money invested in space exploration because we need to be aware of the world outside our own. We will never know what’s out there or the dangers the outside world can present if we never take the chance of exploring the space world. I do also think they should cut down on the funding for space travel and focus on fixing issues that are present in modern day society which is poverty, health, etc..

  • I honestly never considered all of the benefits for us, down here on earth, that were made possible because of space exploration. I always thought that investing all that money on sending people into space was a waste because there seems to be an infinite amount of problems on earth. So thank you for opening my eyes to that.
    However, what about the relatively new opportunity for people to pay money to go on a trip to space? That seems like a giant waste of money that could be used for other, more important, problems that are happening around the world.

  • Rabdak

    We are already IN space. We have no choice but to keep exploring it.

  • Jason Cassady

    Mr. Garan, I really enjoyed reading your article and always have found
    space exploration to be something we should continue to pursue. Before
    reading your article, I had no idea that such battery-free solar
    technology from NASA even existed and now I am absolutely fascinated by
    the idea. This is truly ground-breaking technology, and the fact that it
    can be used for storage of vaccines and medicines will be able to save
    lives in underdeveloped regions by giving people the access to
    healthcare that they need. I am a big proponent of space exploration. We
    cannot merely limit ourselves to what we have here on Earth, and it has
    always been apart of human nature to constantly push the boundaries of
    exploration. NASA alone has helped to develop so many technologies that
    benefit us in our everyday lives, including: memory foam, anti-corrosion
    coating, scratch-resistant eyeglasses, insulin pumps, lifeshears, and
    water filters. I believe that we are not spending nearly enough money on
    space programs, as there is such much to learn and gain from space
    exploration. We need not settle for less or underachieve, and there is
    always something to gain from space exploration and investing in
    programs like NASA. While many people would be quick to argue that we
    are spending far too much money on space exploration and that there is
    far better places to spend our money, I think we should just be cautious
    about our spending and make sure that the money we are spending is
    reaching its full potential and not going to waste. Given all the
    technological advancements we use in our everyday lives
    it is short sighted to write off space exploration as a waste of
    money. It is in our human nature to be explorers and continue to
    discover and learn, and space provides the perfect frontier for this.

  • danphaw

    Actually, since the declared “war on poverty” the government has spent trillions to eliminate poverty yet the poverty rate has remained about the same. Everything in economics is a decision of trade offs. Thomas Sowell says the three questions that should be asked of any endeavor are 2. At what cost? 2. Instead of what? 3. What is your evidence that it will work.

    I’d say, with regard to the space program that the money that has been spent would have been otherwise wasted on such things as studying shrimp on treadmills. Also many useful inventions have been spun off from the space program, like Tang!

  • danphaw

    I’d be inclined to agree with you if I thought spending additional money on social problems would solve them, but it will not. I do agree with you that most problems in society are behavioral however.

  • rped

    I think that funding and expanding our Space program is imperative. We as a society have not only gained immense knowledge in the areas of new technology and innovations by exploring space, but we have pushed our overall scientific and technological knowledge by pursuing space travel. Our world and our nation needs to keep exploring and pushing the bounds of existence. It fuels our desire to grow, and expands our current limits of knowledge. Go Space Travel!!!

  • SkylerZahner

    This solar idea for a freezer or refrigerator is a very good idea along with any other solar inventions because they allow for us to work off of the energy we are already given by the sun. The space program has given us many great ideas and information about how our world works and what we can do to better ourselves and our planet as a hole. It was very sad to see the space program be terminated in the past few years and I am glad to know that the government is beginning to see that this program really does make a difference in our world.

  • Vanessa Roman

    Discovering new things from space will definitely open doors to create new devices. Spending money on space exploration is the key to society living a better quality of life.

  • erinleigh28

    I absolutely agree. As often happens in the world of creativity, when you need a new idea, get a new perspective. And from up in the cosmos is about as different of a perspective as you could possibly get!

  • faisal algannas

    I agree with you! Space exploration is important but shouldn’t be the
    top choice of spending. Like you said we need to save ourselves before
    we can look for alternatives. I mean we know more about space than the
    ocean floor.

  • I totally agree with the premise of two-way technology transfer, but you might want to be careful making that argument; the U.S. government spends trillions on “defense” (I believe quotation marks are warranted at this point), and NASA’s budget always consists of the table scraps that are left over from DoD’s banquet. One of the most persistent arguments in favor of perpetual war is the fact that it advances technology and creates jobs in the tech sector. The same is true of space exploration, but hey – it’s just so much easier to test advanced weapon systems on goat farmers than it is to send people to other planets! In other words, I agree with your pragmatic argument in favor of more space exploration, but I think the more noble reasons aren’t pragmatic at all. We should go to space for the same reason we travel to other countries: to get a sense of perspective, which humanity desperately needs at this point. We need to seek out new life, and new civilizations. Not to mention that when space exploration becomes a collaborative international endeavor, we forge bonds with other nations that hedge us toward peaceful coexistence and away from the state we’re in now.

  • I totally agree with the premise of two-way technology transfer, but you might want to be careful making that argument; the U.S. government spends trillions on “defense” (I believe quotation marks are warranted at this point), and NASA’s budget always consists of the table scraps that are left over from DoD’s banquet. One of the most persistent arguments in favor of perpetual war is the fact that it advances technology and creates jobs in the tech sector. The same is true of space exploration, but hey – it’s just so much easier to test advanced weapon systems on goat farmers than it is to send people to other planets! In other words, I agree with your pragmatic argument in favor of more space exploration, but I think the more noble reasons aren’t pragmatic at all. We should go to space for the same reason we travel to other countries: to get a sense of perspective, which humanity desperately needs at this point. We need to seek out new life, and new civilizations. Not to mention that when space exploration becomes a collaborative international endeavor, we forge bonds with other nations that hedge us toward peaceful coexistence and away from the state we’re in now.

  • l2yza

    I agree, eliminating poverty is just never going to happen.

  • Glassborow

    Thank you for the article. From previous research, I had already known that NASA gave society amazing inventions from the touch screen to duct tape. The amazing technology that comes from NASA is astonishing and greatly impacted the world we live in today. I personally think that space exploration is vital for humanity because we may potentially have to live on another planet once resources on earth run dry.

  • whwatkin

    I fully believe that the future lies in the stars. Whether it be just inside the Earth’s orbit, or light years away the future advancements of the human race will come from space. Also, space exploration as stated in the article (I previously did not know this) has contributed and will continue to contribute to many technological advances, so in a way if you are investing in space you are indirectly investing elsewhere.

  • Alex Marski

    wow! I would’ve never of guessed that amount we spend on space activity. although poverty will never go away for good we can still be investing our money some place else I agree. I personally understand why exploring space is important and what good can come out of it. but there is no reason to dive that much more debt when that money can go to so many more causes and save millions of lives around the world.

  • LindsayDages

    Investing in space exploration and space technologies is really investing in humankind’s
    future. Every generation has to sacrifice for the next to come. The great thing about studying space is that we reap some of the benefits now. It certainly is not the only admirable scientific endeavor but I do believe as a society we should invest in the pursuit of exploring beyond our atmosphere. Even if we do
    not destroy the earth ourselves in the next thousand years the earth will eventually succumb to our finite sun. Imagine what is left to be discovered! If our ancestors had the desire to reach every corner of earth why shouldn’t we try to reach every corner of the universe? Yes we should be wise how we spend
    our tax dollars now, but we cannot forget the future and those that will benefit from our choices today.

  • Caroleigh Perkins

    This topic is something I had never really considered but I probably would have sided with the debate that spending money on space exploration does not make sense when so much money needs to be spend on the problems here on earth. I’m happy that I read this article and can have some peace of mind that the money is not being wasted.

  • amykahl8

    I would never have guessed that space exploration would contribute to life on Earth so much. It’s just a shame that it costs so much money when we could be spending that money on helping people now instead of in the future with the findings of the astronauts.

  • amykahl8

    This is such a touchy subject because obviously space exploration is important to our country or we wouldn’t be spending so much time and effort on it (hopefully). It would just be interesting to see the impact that money could make on lives across the world if it was spent elsewhere.

  • JakeEllis7

    The Two-Way Technology Transfer answer is a good answer in my opinion, however, even more importantly than that is the history we learn from space exploration. We not only learn new things through experimentation and science but learning the history of Earth, our solar system, and beyond is important. Not only from some people’s spiritual perspectives, but also to give us our meaning and purpose. Without the desire to know where we came from or why we are here, the world would be chaos. Searching throughout space is also a way we search for answers. The space program has significantly impacted the lives of many and will continue to do so with every new discovery.

  • Alex_C_B

    I think we have had all of civilization to solve those problems. Many are unsolvable. But only relatively recently have we been able to research the rest of the universe.

  • Jcwilson480

    This is awesome. I think it’s really interesting how many things today have stemmed from space technology. However, I don’t buy into the space station being so uniquely perfect for experimenting. Maybe having to do with the physiology of the human body being in space would be beneficial. Aside from that the rest of the justifications for the station are just that. Justification for the need for a costly, less than necessary expense that the United Statss as we all know can’t really afford.

  • It wouldn’t make a dent. It would amount to maybe a week’s worth of spending on social programs.

    OTOH, the space program has lots of high tech engineers and scientists who work on growing both our skills and our knowledg. Look at this way. The main use for solar panels in the early days was for power in Space. Without that, there wouldn’t hav been research into how to make them better and more efficient and we’d be years behind where we are now with solar tech.

  • You can’t learn anything from space without spending billions. I know that a billion dollars is a lot of money to any one person, but in the overall skeme of gov’t, it’s not even pocket change. Launching anything into space is expensiv.

    NASA’s share of the federal budget is about a 1/2 of a percent … almost an afterthought but they’v done so much with that little bit.

  • What makes you think that space exploration is “the top choice of spending”? NASA gets about 1/2 of a percent of the federal budget … It most certainly isn’t the top choice. Far from it, it’s almost an afterthought.

  • Truthfully, the money spent on space every year wouldn’t go very far at all. At less than 1/2 of a percent of the federal budget, HHS (health and human services) would swallow NASA’s whole budget in about two weeks.

  • Anniep1023

    Going into this article, I was one of the individuals who did not really see the point in space exploration and discovery. However, by reading all that is developed and learned from space exploration is really mind-blowing. By investing in space exploration, we are able to learn more about the world we live in and continue to make more and more scientific discoveries in order to better world.

  • wegener61

    NASA alone has developed so many indispensable products that have become mainstream (i.e.. Velcro). I think Space exploration isn’t just about exploring space, it allows us another platform for creativity and innovative developments that may be beneficial towards helping these issues on Earth.

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    i agree with you on that it is important but like you also said it would be interesting to see what it could do for other parts of the country and across the world. so many things are in need of money.

  • milleram97

    This is a concept I hadn’t really given much thought to in the past.
    It is an interesting argument.
    Though I do think that learning about human life and ways to improvement via space is noteworthy, I don’t know if it’s quite worth it.
    In this article, the only thing referenced was this refrigerator and nothing else. Now refrigeration is a very useful tool for various things, like the article stated but I don’t think it’s something that’s groundbreaking enough to warrant the amount of money it requires to send people up to space, let alone the technologies to survive in those conditions. Furthermore, I do not understand why we couldn’t have a “space simulation” that could produce comparable results that don’t hold the safety of astronauts at risk, and would in the long run cost less. And why would that not be a viable option when we already know so much about space and it’s conditions (of this, I am a but ignorant but like I said-it would be comparable)

  • amykahl8

    Yeah it’s like, maybe we should spend our time and money on what’s happening to us now. There’s wars, diseases, and genocides still happening today. Why is space exploration such a big concern?

  • Erin

    I agree that there are issues larger than the human population and that space research and exploration could be beneficial to improve these world issues. But I also think that these large world wide issues start with us as humans, The fix to the problem is us. We need to start making efforts toward freshening water and less pollution. Each individual is a part of the problem so if everyone did there part in protecting the world, I think it would be more beneficial than exploring space. I know that space research is very important but the things that are happening on Earth are fully due to the actions of humans.

  • Erin

    I agree with this. We still need to continue space exploration but it might be costing us too much. There has got to be a way to lessen the amount we spend on space with still being able to explore it. Some of that money should be going toward things that are happening right now on earth. There are small improvements we could be making in order to make a better tomorrow for those who are struggling. I think it is time to rethink the priorities of the world.

  • nbaker3

    Interesting point. I forgot that a lot of tech innovation comes from space exploration. My biggest concern is with how we manage money at a national level. Of course, businesses should pursue space but I think with the national deficit that it would not be smart for the nation to act like a business.

  • Sarah Kasiurak

    I agree. Sure it’s great learning more about what else is in space but what about the problems we have on Earth?? I think more money should be used on major problems here and then later used for space.

  • I think space exploration is not a waste of time and
    resources. We waste a lot more money doing a lot more meaningless endeavors
    that don’t do anything for anyone or a very small amount for a very small
    amount of the population. Space exploration at least may be able to help us
    sole some of our problems. Maybe even problems that haven’t arisen yet.

  • Skalahe13

    This post is really eye opening actually. I had the same thought, why are we spending so much time on space exploration when we have problems here on earth that could get solved? I guess I did not realize how transferable the research for space is to here on earth. This makes much sense and should keep happening. If exploring space is going to help us with problems here on earth, why stop it. Great post thanks for sharing

  • Kaylie Mae Kuhnke

    right!?!?!? We are in debt as a country by trillions of dollars and we want to spend money on something that doesn’t need to happen right now. i feel we should focus on the more important things that are going on.

  • Sara_Kay0316

    If anything, poverty will probably grow along with the population growth. Its sad to see so much poverty in the world but it is something that will always be there. You never know though, maybe someday someone figure out a great plan!

  • Steven Hass

    When you see the numbers, it is pretty astonishing the comparison. Your second argument is pretty spot on as well. We can’t just solve world poverty, and most likely never will.

  • Steven Hass

    I feel like some people don’t exactly understand what we are doing in space exploration, and they think of it as people floating around in space looking for other things that have no effect on our immediate world. I think this article might clear some of that up and show that it IS beneficial for our world.

  • Steven Hass

    I agree totally. Ron gave reasons as to why it is actually beneficial, and yes we could put the money other places, but like he said they are doing things in space that DO effect our world in good ways.

  • Bjackson5

    It would be interesting if space exploration could take care of many of the worlds problems today. I do agree that many things are possible and that space exploration could result in the relief of some planetary problems we suffer from in society. It remains difficult for me to choose a side to have my say in when it comes to this argument though.

  • ryanstorto

    Actually seeing these numbers is very eye-opening. It is sad that so many people are in poverty and are not being helped because money is being spent on other things like space exploration. We really take advantage of what we have when several people just hope for food and shelter.

  • Florencia

    I see you have this view that ‘the people in less developed countries should stay poor because well, they are used to being poor’. If this is the case, then why do we need more advanced technologies? why did we need telephones when we already had telegrams back then? Same reason here I believe. It is because these technologies do and will continue to improve our quality of life. If you are thinking that those people in poor countries do not need the refrigerators, then aren’t you making them more devoid of these beneficial technologies we can easily have access to? Aren’t you widening the digital divide then? And although i concede that ‘have been living for generations without it’ holds truth, we cannot forget that they are still living in poverty. Granting them access to technologies may be the answer to alleviating poverty in this world.

  • Andrew

    While I realize my points have already been mentioned, I thought I’d sum them up. Sure, maybe someone might not know how to operate a solar powered refrigerator. That’s not necessarily what the article describes it potentially being used for. The article describes using them to store vaccines that must be refrigerated. An economically poor person wouldn’t be doing this. A humanitarian organization such as Doctors Without Borders, who would know how to use this seemingly small but significant piece of technology to its fullest extent. Also, production costs were mentioned. Sure, production costs might be high now. But think about what goes into preparing a payload before it is launched. The payload is strategically designed and manufactured to be as lightweight and cost effective as possible. It is not hard to imagine these manufacturing breakthroughs being applied to this and other commercial ventures.

    Also, when it comes to behavioral change, I would venture to say that space exploration can at the very least have an indirect effect on a person’s behavior. Say a person is exposed to information gathered about the formation of Mars or some other information and they feel the desire to learn more. As they conduct research, they can now be exposed to information that they otherwise might not have been exposed to. The drive for knowledge can lead to information that that person might use to make more informed, rational decisions.

    And, for the sake of it, think of the awe and excitement space puts in people, kids and adults. Cutting he already meagre funding space programs receive and wasting it on anti-poverty programs which have no guarantee of succeeding is a sad action for us to consider when it can lead to advances where you least expect it and a sparked interest in science among children who will grow up to take over after us. (also, remember the U.S. now has a service-based economy, so maintaining our current status as scientific leaders is kinda important. Just sayin.)

    As a sixteen-year-old who has a burning passion for space exploration, I also find it sad that you’d be willing to strip people of their dreams of being aerospace engineers (as I aspire to be and could very well achieve but realistically cannot be employed in now) or as astronauts, whether or not those dreams are attainable, and strip our experience of the world and universe of some of it’s grandeur.

    Note: I agree wholeheartedly with the person that I replied to on here. My arguments are for those in favor of taking money away from space exploration.

  • ThatSpeakerOfTruth

    The mentality that humans should forego discovery (space discovery, specifically, in this case) is fundamentally preposterous. It’s true that social and technological advances complicate each of our individual, human lives with the changes (beneficial or detrimental alike) they bring…but, by definition, they also advance our species as a whole.

    To forego discovery and fully embrace the concept of ‘dealing with immediate problems’ easily fits a primitive lifestyle, which, while appealing to some, disempowers the human race. Take, for example, global warming. Whether you believe it is man-made or not, it is illustrated by a very real and impactful trend over the past centuries and, in the grander scale, represents the imminent doom humanity faces to Earth’s natural and extreme climatic cycles far into the future if it does not look to survive on Earth or elsewhere. So, whether it’s about man-made climate change of our own creations within tens or hundreds of year or an Ice Age within thousands of years, passivity means that we, as a species, decide to allow our fate be ultimately determined by nature. A prototypical caveman has fewer worries brought on by advanced society or technology, but also can do little to survive against physically superior forces, such as biological or environmental (or extraterrestrial, heh).

    This is not the human spirit. Our most inspiring stories are not only about overcoming others, but also overcoming ourselves, our own physical limits, and the forces of nature. The rise and ambition of humanity is about survival and prosperity–if that sounds familiar, that’s because it is ingrained in virtually every human.

    The benefits of space exploration range from sating curiosity to the shorter-term two-way technology transfer discussed in this article and the related longer-term advancement of our knowledge and existence. While it may be easy to look at today and think spending any effort (which is what the money funds) towards exploring space, it is DEFINITIVELY closed-minded to say that it is worthless, by all measures of human logic. This article chooses its argument well, because even if all you carried about was how much tax money can come back to help you or your family then, yes, R&D and exploration in space means significant advances sciences and technology, which all FUNDAMENTALLY affect consumer technology, medicine, communication and travel, manufacturing, etc (to keep stressing the widespread impact of science, because it seems to be forgotten sometimes).

    Finally, there will probably never be a better time than now to research and explore space; as I said, the more advanced humans become, the more complicated things will be. There will never be a “right time” or a utopian Earth to pursue space exploration. There might never be a “better time” to do so. If you truly claim to live in the present, then you should embrace space exploration for the mutual benefits you will enjoy in the near and far future, the complications you will need to adapt to, and the progress of humanity in our most human of desires and instincts.

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  • Malcolm Smith

    There’s good debt and bad debt. Higher inflation than the rate of interest is good debt and for the goverment Higher inflation than the rate of interest after the average amount of tax paid on it is good debt.

    America has lowered its interest rates so they are well below inflation effectively reducing what it ows in real terms and relative to what it receives in taxes. If it keeps debt and pays interest on it with more debt. As long as its interest rate after tax is below inflation though the number of dollars increases the value of the amount owed decreases.

    If this situation of lower interest than inflation is maintained then spending can be higher without the relative value of what is owed increasing, than it could be with no debt without going into debt.

    The government’s gain is felt by savers in america and the world including china whose investors hold a large number of us dollars. This dose how ever encourage investment strengthening your economy and increasing tax revenue.

  • Ryan Astrom

    Space exploration is not bad. They do it for our advancement. I once attended an event conducted my GEM SYSTEMS where they spoke about a space rover which had a magnetometer provided by the company. It was about how the rover would help in advancement of unnamed space missions. Things like this can make a lot of difference in future. I agree that not all the money is spent for space research. Whatever they do is for a reason. It is all for our good 🙂

  • Nace Crawford

    I have always been a big fan of space travel. I think we should definitely spend more on
    it. I understand that each dollar
    invested yields about $8 in economic value in spin off products. Things like Velcro, cooling systems, zero
    gravity pens, and radiation reducing materials all were developed as a direct
    result of the space program.

    I fully concur that zero gravity environments are
    important in the development of new medicines, manufacturing techniques and
    research on the human body. We should
    continue to use these environments to test out new theories and better understand
    our universe. This vantage point also
    allows us to study the earth from above, locate new resources, and understand environmental

    Many of the space related spin offs can be helpful
    to developing countries. I am fascinated
    by the idea of having a refrigerator that can operate without being on the
    grid. This will definitely help store
    milk that can nourish impoverished children.
    So many of the vaccines that are needed in early life need to be
    refrigerated. This will help make life
    better for those in the deepest need.

    I am intrigued with some of the other inventions that
    help impoverished communities with no access to clean water or
    electricity. Examples of this include
    the Life Straw and family sized units that purifies putrid water into something
    that is usable for entire families. I
    also have seen solar cooking units that allow families to place sun bake food
    via the reflectors. This lowers the dependence
    on fire wood and improves the health of those using this method to do some

    Its really sad that we spent so much on being the
    first to the moon and we haven’t been back since 1972. Moreover, we do not have a viable manned
    space vehicle. We are having to rent
    space on vintage 1970’s era Russian vehicles to get to the Space station. Mankind will also have to one day leave this
    world to avoid certain destruction when our sun begins to expand eons from
    now. It will be necessary to create
    colonies on Mars and beyond. It should
    be each generation’s responsibility to add to the knowledge of the universe and
    manned spaced travel, for it is our inevitable future.

  • Fred Wayne

    I believe that space exploration is important for the development of the human species. Not only have we progressed our scientific knowledge of the universe, society has also benefitted from the use of the technologies we developed specifically for space. Ron Garan explains many valid points about why the space program should be funded that I agree with, however he doesn’t mention the intrinsic appeal of exploration. It is in our human nature to expand our horizons and discover new things, and to prevent us from doing so by cutting funding destroys that inner drive to discover. Although the money spend on the space program could be used for many different issues, people should consider the two-way transfer of technology from space travel invaluable. Without the space program, many of these technologies would never have been invented.

  • Daniel James Cheney

    It has seemed that over the past half century, many of society’s most important innovations and solutions have come as a result of space exploration and experimentation. Ron emphasizes the importance that our space program plays in working towards sustainable solutions in everything from medical advancement to solving the energy crisis. I’m constantly amazed by humanity’s ability to overcome obstacles and progress technologically and I feel that space exploration is an often overlooked vehicle for societal improvement.

    Since NASA has faced unprecedented budget cuts in the past decade, it seems that much of the future or space exploration lays in the hands of private entrepreneurial firms like SpaceX and Orbital Sciences (both of which have been contracted by NASA to fly to the ISS over the next few years.) I’m curious as to how the author and other feel about the public sector stepping down from its role as virtually the lone actor in the field of space exploration. How will entrepreneurial risk taking and the need for investment change the way we engage in our study of the universe around us?

    Overall, I’m glad insiders like Garan extrapolate upon the role that NASA and others plan in how we look to solve complex problems like energy innovation and climate change. As a society, we need to learn that many of the solutions exist outside of Earth’s boundaries and resources need to dedicated to exploring what lays beyond us. Man’s curiosity of the universe has driven much of the technological improvement we’ve enjoyed over the past century and we should not diminish space exploration’s potential to change our future just because people feel to see the connection between return and investment. In a way that seems often too abstract for the average taxpayer to visualize, NASA and the space research it conducts is one of the most sustainable and profitable endeavors the United States government funds.

  • danlorusso

    I have always been someone who never understood the purpose in investing in various space programs. The title of the article is what caught my attention and I was interested in hearing an astronauts perspective on the topic. I think that this solar powered refrigerator is an incredibly useful piece of technology for parts of the world lacking refrigeration. Not only can impoverished regions of the world store things such as vaccines and medicines in these refrigerators but they can also store food. Storing food in this refrigerator will allow food to last longer in areas of the world where unrefrigerated food tends to go bad quickly. This NASA battery free technology can make great improvements on our planet and provide people with new resources. I hope to see an innovative product such as this be implemented in regions of the world that need it. My only question would be about the price of something like this. Can the ones who need it most even afford a high tech solar powered refrigerator?

  • Samuel Cannon

    I personally feel that spending money on space exploration is not a waste of money. The advances we have made in space and on earth are astonishing. As the article mentions, the solar power refrigerator made for space did wonders down here on earth. I hope we continue to learn more about space in the distant future, and continue putting money into a program that is truly valuable.

  • michaelseanpollard

    Imagine history’s greatest explorers asking that question. And they had greater problems then. Yet, using the resources of our space agencies to grow zero G potatoes is exactly why the public questions the funding of space exploration. Let’s not pretend we’re gonna be able to fix our earth bound problems any time soon. Whenever you have more than 1 person, you have more than 1 opinion. Fixing the world’s problems would require a consensus that humanity has never been able to accomplish and is unlikely ever to. Hate to say it, but utopia would be easier and more efficiently built somewhere like Mars where consensus could be imported. Fostering it there could serve as an example to earth.
    Call me cold, but I’d sooner my taxes were going to space exploration than “helping the developing word”, when said funds are actually diverted to morally bankrupt dictators.

  • Paul Figus

    One of the main reasons space exploration is so important is because it can one day save millions of lives. Our time on Earth is running out and we are using the resources we have way too much. Space exploration could mean finding a another planet and solving the problem of overpopulation. Space exploration could mean a much better future for generations and generations to come.

  • Hon

    I am supporter of space exploration for scientific reasons. but this latest trend of billionaires funding rocketry for potential space tourism is truly distrubing. I know it will advance technolgy, but will never achieve what the apollo program did. The next country that sends a manned mission to the moon or any other planet for that matter will not be the u.s.
    Also, Do you know the carbon footprint of a space launch is huge, not just the fuel but the energy and materials that go into building it.
    Having said all that, lt is sad that nasa is a shell of its former self. To send a man to the moon today would bankrupt our country becaue of the increased costs and incredible greed of the military industrial complex. The benefits to society from space science as whole are greatly exagerated. sure we have some neat gadgets and velcro, but not a lot of people being fed from it.
    Manned space travel is really much more about ego than scientific practicality at this point in our technological development. Better sending robots to explore and conduct experiments until mankind evolves and sciences catches up with bravado.

  • Ann Matthews

    The title of this article immediately reeled me in because it is something I have thought about before. Why should we be spending so much money to go into outer space when there are so many problems here on earth that could really benefit from that funding? However, after reading this article, I realized how much we can learn from outer space that could be brought back to earth and be implemented into solving problems such as the energy crisis that are becoming more and more impending as the earth’s population increases.

  • Jac Williamson

    I can see how this brings up such a wide variety of opinions, all of which I’m open-minded to reading about. I also can see both sides of the argument. On one hand, we have so many problems accumulating here on Earth that we should be using all money, time and effort into fixing. But, on the other hand, by using funds on NASA and further research, we are advancing in knowledge that will enable us to make more beneficial changes on Earth. It’s tough for me to personally pick one side because I can see reasoning from both.

  • Jason Perry

    We come nowhere close to spending what we should be on space exploration. And when our planet collectively learns just how important it is that we should have been spending much, much more – it will be too late.

  • Tyrell John

    Space exploration equates to less that 1% of all they money which is spent on military…And that is why we can not fix this world. It would be better to leave earth.

  • E;f

    Sure, Write an article about how the space program when it benefits you as an astronaut. The program has been a huge waste of money with too many fatalities. And trying to say the dead astronauts voluntarily gave their lives is utter BS. NASA is an inept organization that has killed people.

  • E;f

    Sure, Write an article about how the space program when it benefits you as an astronaut. The program has been a huge waste of money with too many fatalities. And trying to say the dead astronauts voluntarily gave their lives is utter BS. NASA is an inept organization that has killed people.

  • E;f

    We could have gotten all these advancements at a far less cost.

  • E;f

    We could have gotten all these advancements at a far less cost.

  • E;f

    Ron only gave reasons because he is in the program. Do you really think an astronaut is going to say anything negative about space exploration? The program has been a waste starting with the Apollo program.

  • E;f

    Ron only gave reasons because he is in the program. Do you really think an astronaut is going to say anything negative about space exploration? The program has been a waste starting with the Apollo program.

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