I think that we all hear the same old story, no matter the country you live in. “We should stop to waste money on space-related programs, there are so many problems to be solved here! Who cares for probes, telescopes and stuff like that when we have so many people suffering on Earth?”
At first, such an argument could sound good. We have a number of ongoing wars, there are a lot of people under the minimum living conditions, a declining global ecology and other worrying stuff at hand.
It’s also true that no investment program can solve all this problem. Even if we shut down every single space-related program at once, the money will not be enough to change this world. Like it or not, our kind of economy isn’t suited to keep seven billion people happy and well nourished.
Humankind grows thru consumption of resources and our collective growth will need more and more resources in the future and our beloved planet is not enough. Consider also that the main cause for conflict in the human history is the control of basic commodities like water, oil, minerals and cultivable areas.
The need for resources drives to look at our Solar system. Out there we could have energy, water, raw materials. If our species have a future (it’s a BIG if), then we have to invest more and more in the direction of space-related programs. It’s a matter of choices. Government-driven programs were the only way available
until a few years ago, now it’s time to push harder in this direction, using a combination of money derived from private industry and guarantees based on international projects. Think about ISS as a model.
The history of space exploration has been a massive driver for science and technology. Think about new materials, power generation, and energy, recycling and waste management,robotics, health, engineering, computers. The industrial and economic impact of such innovations, plus the social transformations triggered by such progress, changed for good our world.
In the foreseeable future, the miniaturization of equipment will give us better performance and lower cost. That will drive to better services on Earth and greater return on investment. The social drive for space exploration will move the next generation to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, augmenting the drive for scientific and technological innovation.
Is it so difficult to understand?
A dollar invested in space-related progress will give us much more advantages than ten dollars given to any other cause.