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Letters: Don’t overlook space program benefitLetter

252P/LINEAR made one of the closest encounters to

252P/LINEAR made one of the closest encounters to Earth of any comet in recorded history. Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

I’ve read comments claiming the NASA space program is a wasteful use of tax dollars [“$1.1B better used here on Earth,” Letters, July 26].

I believe this opinion has been formed without the realization of how much our world has benefited in every aspect of our daily lives.

Here’s a partial list of the many innovative technologies born from the space program: advances in computer technology, satellite TV and radio, lithium–ion batteries, robotics, light-emitting diodes, infrared ear thermometers, artificial limbs, anti-icing systems for planes.

Many more could be added. It’s an astounding list. As a nation, we must continue to explore the boundaries of our minds and our vast universe. Let our imaginations run wild.

Lawrence Harkavy, St. James

 

I respectfully disagree with the recent letter that said money spent on our space program could be better used here on Earth.

Throwing money at problems on Earth doesn’t necessarily lead to fewer problems or less suffering. And while $1.1 billion sounds like a lot of money, it is nothing on a national scale. That was spent on the Juno spacecraft over nearly 20 years. In that same time, if you take current spending and multiply by 20, the amount spent on Medicaid was nearly $6 trillion. Using the same method of calculation, the budget for the U.S. military during the same period was nearly $8 trillion.

There are lots of ways we can analyze the numbers. We could talk about the returns in technology that spun off from the development of spacecraft. We could review the revolutionary effects on the world economy of something like our GPS system, satellite communications and weather forecasting.

What we can’t fit into a spreadsheet are the intangibles: national prestige and knowing that we are still a nation of explorers willing to take risks.

While these should be reason enough, the greatest return on investment probably comes from the young minds that are inspired to pursue careers in science or math because their imaginations were set on fire by a man-made machine trekking across the red surface of Mars 30 million miles away.

Michael Melgar, Great Neck

 

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