Throughout the course of history, man has dreamed of stepping foot on another planet. The advances in technology in the 20th century have allowed man to do what at one time was considered unthinkable for millenniums before. With the advent of the modern space program in the early 1950’s, NASA has performed many inconceivable feats. They have sent and returned men to space. They’ve set up space stations orbiting the earth. They have allowed men to land on the moon, collect samples, and then return to the earth. They have sent spacecraft to explore comets and other planets. They have even sent space probes outside the known walls of this solar system. Recently, NASA has been spending billions of dollars in researching our second nearest planet, Mars. In understanding the scientific importance that such research can mean, the United States is justified in spending this money on NASA space missions to Mars.
President John F. Kennedy said in 1961 that he believed that the United States could put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. Unfortunately, he never lived to see this prophetic feat performed. But in July of 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon before live audiences around the world. As he stepped out on this extraterrestrial surface, he stated the now famous words, “That was one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But why was Kennedy so adamant about sending men to the moon? What significance could such a feat serve in our lives?
Of course, we lived in a different time then. Many believed our effort to send a man to the moon was just an attempt to display the philosophical superiority of capitalism over communism during the height of the Cold War. If America could send a man to the moon before the Soviets, then perhaps, it was thought, that the world would come to understand that our capitalistic form of government allows scientific advancement much faster and better than a communist or socialist form of government. No doubt, the United States was involved with a “space-race” that was much more political in nature than technological. But perhaps President Kennedy saw something else. Perhaps he saw the benefits of such a feat in realms other than just political or philosophical. While signing the authorization bill of the N...
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...worlds. Mars is just the second “giant leap” in our knowledge of the universe. Who knows what discoveries will be found on our research of other planets? To give up on space exploration due to financial restraints is like giving up on science in general. Just like the world is much bigger than our neighborhood, city, state and even country, so is science bigger than our planet. We must continue to reach out to other planets to find knowledge that may make our life on this planet more meaningful and better.
The science fiction of yesterday always seems to become the science of today. Television shows like Star Trek and Star Wars have elements that are just now being developed within our lifetime. Technology begins with a dream – a concept – that is realized with greater technological advances. And these advances are developed through steps. It is impertinent that the United States continues to fund the exploration of Mars. We must not fall behind or lose this opportunity that we have to discover great new truths for the sake of economic or political reasoning. When all rationale are considered, it makes social, technological, and ecological sense to continue these great missions.
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