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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Resource wasted on space research

    By Halle Fukawa
    Copy Editor
    From social media to the nightly news, space exploration has become a recurring topic of conversation on a variety of platforms. There never seems to be a shortage of newly discovered planets, black hole sightings, and new NASA project announcements. However, it is clear that space exploration should not be the emphasized project of the STEM world, but rather moved down after the long list of issues to be solved here on planet Earth.

    The primary argument for why space exploration is worth the effort stems from government funding. According to the Planetary Society, NASA’s estimated budget for 2020 is about 0.47 percent of the U.S budget. This percentage may sound miniscule in the long-run, however that amount converted into dollars is approximately $22.6 billion. Despite being less than the 2 percent allocated to social services, this number is not to be disregarded, especially considering the impact that money could have on more prevalent issues, such as college debt and homelessness.
    According to CNBC, “Education debt has outpaced credit card and auto debt. The average college graduate leaves school $30,000 in the red today, up from $10,000 in the 1990s.”
    This is an issue that has long-term and immediate effects on peoples’ everyday lives, something that is not solved through trillion-dollar missions.
    The homelessness issue is also a nation-wide matter that has only gotten more severe within the past decade.
    According to founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, Maria Foscarinis, “Housing costs are going up dramatically in many parts of the country, including in California, and that’s driving increases in homelessness as well as a housing crunch for many people.”
    This shows that the trillions of dollars granted towards space exploration may not be as necessary as it is made out to be. Space exploration may help issues relating to technology, weather forecasts, and possible new moons, however it does little to help the problems occurring in our own communities.
    In the early 1970’s, Sister Mary Jucunda, a nun working in the impoverished country of Zambia, wrote a letter addressed to Dr. Ernst Stuhlinger, then-associate director of science at NASA. She posed the question, “With all the suffering in the world — starvation, disease, persecution, and natural disasters — why should we spend public money on an enterprise like fundamental scientific research?”
    She was right.
    By putting in this extra money for programs supporting affordable housing or decreasing college debt, the economy will be monumentally improved.
    With the turbulent climate the U.S faces at the start of 2020, the up-and-coming NASA missions fall short on the list of concerns plaguing most peoples’ minds. While space exploration is not meaningless in nature, it is clearly not a priority, and should remain so until more pressing issues are rested.

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    Resource wasted on space research