7 Advantages and Disadvantages of Space Exploration

The universe has always fascinated humans since time immemorial. Ancient humans looked up the sky and wondered about the sun, the moon, and the stars, and they came up with myths and legends to explain the presence of these celestial bodies. Early scientists gave their theories about these bodies and, although many of them were incorrect (some thought, for example, that the sun revolved around the earth), they set the foundation for modern scientific thought.

As decades passed by and humans developed better technology, they set their sights on exploring the vastness of space. They eventually succeeded in 1969, when Apollo 11 landed on the moon and astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon’s surface. Since then, space exploration has become a priority among many scientists and governments, and a lot of time, money, and energy have been spent on space missions to learn more about the universe.

There’s no doubt that space exploration has several positive effects, but a lot of people argue that it also comes with its own drawbacks. To understand the two sides of this argument, it’s important to know about the advantages and disadvantages of space exploration.

List of Advantages of Space Exploration

1. It allows people to know more about the universe.
Undoubtedly, space exploration has answered the question of whether the Earth is round or not and proved that the Earth does revolve around the sun (and not the other way around). But it does much more than that: it gives people a deeper insight about the universe and provides them with more information about the world they live in. It helps them realize that their problems aren’t really that debilitating in the grand scheme of things while reminding them of how fortunate they are to be part of the vast and majestic universe.

2. It paves the way to advanced technology.
Scientists are always developing new technology for space programs, but the good news is that these new innovations aren’t just useful for astronauts and space missions. They can also be used in other industries and, in fact, have already led to the development of modern products and gadgets that many people use. These include GPS systems (which is used in many smartphones, tablets, and sat-navs), Teflon-coated fiberglass (which is now used as roofing material), and breast cancer test imaging.

3. It creates numerous jobs.
Space exploration doesn’t just involve scientist and astronauts; it also requires the skills and labor of many engineers, research assistants, technicians, mechanics, and other professionals. If space exploration would be stopped today, these people would become jobless, and they won’t have the means to support themselves and their families.

The good thing about this is that space exploration programs show no signs of stopping, and they’re expected to get bigger in the coming years. This means that more jobs would be created, which can significantly help with the employment problems that many countries face.

4. It can offer a solution to many problems.
Aside from collecting information about the outer space, many space exploration programs are used to address some of the problems that plague modern society. Some programs, for example, help scientists learn more about the earth’s atmosphere and know how to better predict weather and natural disasters. Others, meanwhile, focus on looking for planets that can support human life, which may be the solution to the earth’s growing population.

List of Disadvantages of Space Exploration

1. It endangers the lives of astronauts.
It can’t be denied that space exploration puts astronauts’ lives in danger, even if they know what they are signing up for. In fact, many accidents have happened over the years and have resulted to numerous injuries and even deaths. The Apollo 1 manned mission, for example, ended when its crew members were killed in a cabin fire as they conducted a launch rehearsal test. The Challenger space shuttle exploded less than two minutes after liftoff, killing all of its seven crew members.

Even if missions don’t always end up in disasters, they can still expose astronauts to a wide range of health problems. Studies have shown that spending long periods of time in zero gravity can seriously affect a person’s cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems and make him prone to various illnesses. Exposure to high-energy ionizing cosmic rays, which are present in space, can lead to the development of cancer.

2. It leads to pollution in space.
Many people might scoff at the idea of polluting space; after all, the universe is vast and infinite, and it would take billions of years to fill it with junk. But that’s the thing: even if it wouldn’t fill up right away, it can still be polluted with the debris that space missions leave behind, such as satellites, rocket launch boosters, and other kinds of equipment. At the very least, these debris will harmlessly float around the universe and just ruin beautiful space photos with their presence. In the worst case scenario, they can interfere with planetary orbits, cause accidents for future space missions, and pave the way to other kinds of problems.

3. It can be expensive.
Space exploration is undeniably costly. Training and educating astronauts, building rockets and space shuttles, developing new technology for space missions — all of these cost a substantial amount of money.

Proponents of space exploration argue that every penny is worth it because of the knowledge and data that exploring the universe brings. However, many people disagree. They point out that spending billions of dollars on space travel isn’t practical nor even ethical when a lot of ordinary people are suffering from hunger, illnesses, and poverty. They argue that, instead of putting large amounts of money on space programs, governments should use the funds on healthcare, education, food, housing, and other social programs that would benefit a lot of people and make their lives better.

Final Thoughts

Space exploration is one of the biggest achievements of humans as a whole, and it has paved the way to greater scientific understanding and many technological advancement over the years. However, it can’t be denied that it also has several drawbacks, which is why governments and scientists should find a balance between the advantages and disadvantages as soon as possible.