Saturday, November 18, 2006

Sad, but true. Space is a waste of money.

Entry for Tuesday, 26 July, 2005

The successful shuttle launch today was a relief to many who had worried that if one more thing went wrong, the plug would be pulled on the space program. That discussion needs to be had, however. Is the benefit of the space program worth the cost?

The only real value in the space program would be colonizing other planets. That is the only benefit that the program could provide that would be worth the cost, because it would help insure the survival of mankind by not having all our eggs in one basket, so to speak. While the question of the age of the universe is interesting, as is the life cycle of stars and other celestial objects, in the end only things that directly benefit human beings have value. The medical advances and the technological advances have provided such benefits, but governments have a nasty tendency to use incidental scientific discoveries for warfare, not for the benefit of ordinary humans.

And then there is the question: who would get to migrate to these colonies? Only the government approved scientists and professionals, and, of course, the extremely rich who can buy the opportunity. Nobody else would be permitted to go. Nobody is going to generously pay the costs of space travel for the indigent to migrate to new worlds. So it seems that even colonizing other planets would not really benefit the average person any time soon.

Some people will no doubt counter that if we don't develop our space program and colonize space, then some other hostile government will, like China or Russia. Well, maybe. These countries will most likely be a military threat to us long before any actual colonies ever get built in space. In fact, China is a military threat to us now. How is our spending trillions of dollars on a space program to "Get there first" going to help that situation? It won't, obviously. It will simply make certain that China and Russia make every effort to have a military presence in space. In terms of security benefit, it would be better to spend money making sure they don't get into space instead of making sure we do. Establishing a colony won't make any one country more secure, it will only help to ensure the survival of mankind in general.

To avoid the political and military problems, there are only two options - don't go or invite everybody to come along. Since inviting everybody would pretty much just allow other governments to stage a coup and take over what we paid so much to develop (No, I don't trust them. Neither should you.). It's a lose-lose proposition. Trillions of dollars for no security benefit and ultimately no real benefit to mankind in general.

So the end of the analysis is that government should not be wasting money on a space program. There are far too many other problems that need to be addressed first - and until there is a real and lasting world peace, it is a dangerous and foolish project to pursue.

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