What are we going to get form an asteroid that we can't get from Earth?
Those of us who find ourselves in front of audiences trying to justify space exploration would do well to review McCullough’s arguments with care. Here’s another, which speaks to the objection that the money we spend on space could better be applied to solving problems here on Earth. Weigh NASA and its expenses against what goes on on Wall Street. The pharmaceutical company Pfizer had a 2005 annual revenue of $51 billion, spending some $7 billion on research and development.
By contrast, NASA’s 2005 budget as allocated by Congress was $16 billion. In other words, the NASA budget that year was less than one-third the annual revenue of a single company of the thirty that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Nobody is saying that Pfizer isn’t huge, or that $16 billion is a small amount of money. But the idea that diverting NASA’s budget will solve global warming or shelter the world’s homeless is a fantasy. Whereas exploration properly conducted may provide benefits far outreaching what might be accomplished by keeping those dollars here on Earth.
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