Space Exploration Justifications

Because of the increasing and complete competitiveness of risk, exploration is costly and slow. 

Significantly among the most current vehicle cost manufacturers, dependable payload delivery to low-Earth orbit (LEO) remains considerably over 2,000 USD/ kg, with even higher costs associated with higher orbits (such as MEO or GEO) or interplanetary missions. 

Human trips to LEO are expensive, costing tens of millions of dollars per person. 

National spaceflight budgets, on the other hand, are often very modest. 

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) budget was about 19.5 billion dollars in 2017, accounting for 0.47 percent of all government spending in the United States. 

In the same year, 

the ESA budget was 7.1 billion dollars (5.8 billion euros); 

the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) budget was 1.4 billion dollars (154 billion yen); 

the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) budget was 1.2 billion dollars (8045 crores); 

and Roscosmos (Russia's space agency) budget was 2.9 billion dollars in 2015. (186.5 billion rubles). 

Furthermore, even the most dependable launch vehicles, such as the European Space Agency's Ariane 5, the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V, and others, have failure rates of 1% to 5% or greater. 

The Challenger (STS- 51L) and Columbia (STS-107) tragedies in 1986 and 2003, respectively, resulted in catastrophic failure of two out of 135 NASA Space Transportation System flights. 

A combination of factors, including pilot mistake, resulted in the death of one of Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise pilots in 2014. 

Soyuz 1 in 1967 (due to a parachute failure during landing) and Soyuz 11 in 1971 (due to a parachute failure during landing) (due to spacecraft decompression; the only case to date of fatalities in space). 

It should come as no surprise, however, that proponents of spaceflight have felt compelled to provide passionate justifications of the program's continuation or expansion. 

When the subject of spaceflight is brought up, there is something like to a "spaceflight advocacy bundle" of arguments that is used. 

• Increases in spaceflight activities will encourage more kids to become interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to a battery of spaceflight rationales often propagated. 

• Exploration of the Solar System, particularly the hunt for alien life, promises to provide answers to many of life's "big questions" concerning its scope and origin. 

• Crewed spaceflight is a natural extension of our inherent migratory and adventurous instincts. 

Why Exploiting resources from space (e.g., from lunar and asteroid mining) will promote human well-being by mitigating terrestrial resource depletion (e.g., ecological collapse, meteorite strikes). 

Why Space exploration (the "spinoff" argument) is a key engine of technological progress. 

The phrase "space exploration" is imprecise, as this list demonstrates. 

After all, a fan of "space exploration" may be a supporter of: scientific study of space environments (either crewed or robotic); commercial usage of space (e.g., space hotels, space mining); human settlement in space; and so on. 

This uncertainty has the consequence that there is no such thing as a simple justification for space exploration. 

Rather, there are many rationales for the numerous potential goals or actions that might be carried out in space. 

The fundamental issue of this article is whether and in what senses we are right in asserting that space exploration has a moral responsibility to assist. 

A essential prerequisite for the existence of a duty to achieve a particular goal is that, in all other circumstances, some quantity of benefit will result from achieving this goal. 

This criterion, however, is inadequate in and of itself since other factors may not be equal. 

It's possible that the opportunity costs are too great, and that we might do more good by focusing on other goals. 

Or it might just be impossible to meet some particular goal at this time. 

For example, it may be true in theory that using space resources to offset depletion of terrestrial resources is a good idea. 

Similarly, it may be true in theory that securing long-term human existence via space colonization is beneficial. 

There are valid grounds to question that we can do these duties successfully at this time. 

This necessitates two more criteria for the existence of a spaceflight obligation: that it is feasible to do so in the first place, and that doing so is a reasonable use of energy and resources. 

If a spaceflight goal meets all three criteria, we know that, in addition to being desirable in principle, it is also a good that we can achieve, and one that can be justified as valuable in comparison to other potential uses of our energies and resources. 

Importantly, whether and to what extent a spaceflight goal meets the three criteria of being good in principle, realizable, and balanced changes with time. 

Certain spaceflight goals may provide more good (in theory) than others at any given moment, and ceteris paribus, we have a responsibility to prioritize those objectives that are most likely to provide the greatest benefit. 

All things considered, encouraging kids to pursue STEM subjects may be more essential than creating permanent space colonies at this time. 

However, it is possible that space colonization may become a major social objective many millennia from now. 

Similarly, the likelihood of achieving spaceflight goals changes with time. 

If a specific spaceflight goal is beyond our scientific, technical, or economic capabilities, then it cannot be required that we achieve it. 

As a result, if it is now within our ability to utilize spaceflight to encourage kids to pursue STEM subjects but not to create space colonies, our current responsibilities are more firmly attached to the former than the latter. 

Furthermore, our capacity to successfully meet spaceflight goals varies. 

It's conceivable that we'll be able to utilize spaceflight to boost STEM enrollments as well as create interplanetary colonies. 

Nonetheless, the former would be more simpler, less costly, and less dangerous. 

As a result, we could conclude that, for the time being, we have a greater responsibility to utilize spaceflight to boost STEM enrollments. 

(And, in the case of objectives like boosting STEM enrollments, there's always the chance that a different approach will be more efficient and successful!) We must remember that we have various responsibilities, some of which clash, and that many of these obligations provide for different methods of fulfillment, some of which conflict. 

This implies that the presence and degree of an obligation to participate in a specific activity is a highly contextual issue that cannot be deduced just from the observation of a perceived need and a perceived method of meeting that need. 

What we have a responsibility to strive for now may seem quite different from what we have an obligation to accomplish decades or centuries from now. 

I'll gladly agree that almost every spaceflight goal meets the first condition— that good would be achieved, ceteris paribus, by boosting STEM enrollments; looking for evidence of alien life; fulfilling exploration aspirations; and so on. 

It is entirely logical that we have responsibilities to meet a broad range of spaceflight goals in theory. 

Furthermore, these responsibilities exist on a communal level. 

Increased STEM enrollments are the responsibility of all people, perhaps via institutions with the necessary resources and capabilities. 

In addition to existing for the sake of any one person, such a responsibility exists for the sake of all people. 

Likewise, the duty to look for alien life, and so on. 

The goal of this essay, however, is not to compile a comprehensive list of presumptive responsibilities related to spaceflight, but rather to determine which uses of space are most important now and in the near future (which I define as roughly two centuries), i.e., over timescales in which we have a good understanding of our collective needs, social, political, and technological needs. 

And other things are far from equal in this situation. 

Many suggested spaceflight goals do not meet the criterion of being achievable now or in the near future. 

Furthermore, many planned spaceflight operations are ineffective in meeting their associated responsibilities, failing to meet the essential criterion of being an all-around regarded reasonable use of energy and resources. 

With this in mind, I'd want to evaluate the conventional spaceflight justifications. 

As I will show, almost all of the above justifications fail to support comparable responsibilities in the current or near future. 

Only those responsibilities relating to the scientific research of space settings are substantially unaffected. 

The rest of us will have to argue that space scientific research is especially important, and that it should be prioritized above other things.

~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan 

You may also want to read more about Space Exploration, Space Missions and Systems here.

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