It was the main discussion of the debat in March on Space Expo Noordwijk, where a conservative politician appealed against investing more in space and an ESTEC employer pointed out that investing more in space automatically means investing in Earth.

By Marijn Kampers

The politician started the discussion with a question, "what did space exploration delivered us? First we went to the Moon with our space rockets, then we evolved this journey to Mars and now we have ten robotic carts riding on Mars. What´s the use of ten carts on Mars? It´s clear we can see some benefits from space exploration. Due to satellites we can use gps technologies for navigation purposes and good weather predictions. But does this really have to cost billions of dollars? I believe it´s better to focus on making investments that will solve our earthly problems." The ESTEC employer pointed out that investing in space means investing in Earth. If we didn´t invest in space we would have never discovered the hole in the Ozone layer. Also many important inventions are there thanks to space missions.

The Cost
From now the audience - most of them space minded - interfered the discussion by countering the critism on the cost aspect. It turned out that investments in space seems to be reasonable as investing 1 dollar in space has a positive return of investment between 1,5 and 4.9. These figures are based on reliable research of reputable institutes like the Aerospace Industries Association, Oxford Economics, European Union and many National Governments. Some local areas even have a much higher positive ratio, so according to most of the audience we should even invest more in space in these areas.

Air Pollution
Another negative aspect that is closely linked with space exploration is air pollution. Its clear rocket launches bring harmfull gasses in the environment. However when you look at what these rockets contribute in a positive way to the reduction of air pollution, I believe we should be less skeptical. Think about the gps car navigation for example. This functionality saves air pollution because drivers find shorter routes to destination. So with millions of drivers on the road each day compared to a few hundred rockets per year it seems clear that space exploration does more good than harm to the environment, when you think about the activities - that we consider to be necessarely - here on earth to live a good life, but sadly enough have a bad impact on the environment. On top of this the driver has a more comfortable ride.

Talking about more comfort, we can mention many more practical examples that we owe to space missions. Think about using a global wifi connection for watching your favourite tv serie online in remote locations or looking for an ideal summer spot with good weather forecasts. This all wouldn´t be possible without the use of innovative sattelite navigation, communication and analyse techniques from out of space.


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