Who benefits from space exploration and why do we do it?

Who benefits from space exploration and why do we continue to do so? Why invest money, time, and effort in space research, something that doesn’t seem to bring much benefit? Why do we use resources for space exploration instead of focusing on life on Earth?

Humankind’s interest in space has always been universal. People want to explore the unknown, discover new worlds (whether they are on Earth or in deep space), and push scientific and technical boundaries. The intangible desire to explore and push the frontiers of knowledge has brought many benefits to human society over the centuries.

Human space exploration contributes to clarifying fundamental mysteries about our place in the universe and the history of the solar system. By solving the challenges of space exploration, humanity develops technologies, creates new industries, and fosters peaceful relations with other nations. Curiosity and exploration (of any kind) are the core of the human spirit and the power that got us where we are today.

The best answer can be found in our history

Perhaps the best answer can be found in our history. Why did our ancestors come down from the trees? Why did the wide distribution of our species give us a better chance of survival?

You have explored almost all flourishing civilizations. Through exploration, the dangers of the surrounding areas can be identified and combated. Without knowledge, dangers can harm us. Through knowledge, the effects or consequences can be reduced or even combated.

Despite investing many resources in what may appear to be a quick return, space exploration allows for the creation of new resources. Resources mean a better chance of survival, and resources don’t just mean material goods.

Knowledge or techniques gained through exploration

The knowledge or technologies gained through exploration by developers always reach the general public, and we all benefit from them in one way or another, according to ESA.

Technologies can be medical applications such as new medicines or lifestyles to increase the quantity or quality of life. Technologies can be social, and allow people in a society to better understand who they are inside or outside a particular culture.

By studying extraterrestrial worlds such as Venus, Mars or Saturn, humanity can put its own world into context. This is exactly why solar system exploration is focused on understanding the Earth’s relationship to other planets, an important step in exploring the entire universe.

Knowledge helps us survive

Although it can offer endless mysteries and explanations about the formation and functioning of the universe, space also has risks. The chances of a giant asteroid or comet hitting Earth are low, but not zero.

Some explanations for mass extinctions or different evolutionary patterns include asteroids and comets colliding with our planet. Our technology is getting to a point where we can detect and respond to such a threat in some way, such as NASA’s DART Planetary Defense mission.

The dangers are there, but the knowledge helps us survive as a species. Without the ability to know space, the chances of our being able to save ourselves simply would not exist.

Space will allow the human race to continue to exist

Earth is the only planet known to support life, but our ability to adapt will eventually allow us to colonize other planets or natural satellites.

Our way of life may be different, but human life and our culture have adapted in the past. Humanity will certainly be able to adapt in the future, and space will allow us to expand and continue to exist as a species.

So before you ask yourself “Who benefits from space exploration?” or “Why is so much money wasted on space exploration?” First, ask yourself, “What would humanity look like now if we never explored it?”

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