Space Exploration vs. Tunneling Further Into the Earth

By Eric Zanzucchi (@ericzanzucchi)

The Curiosity spacecraft landed on Mars early Monday morning and is already transmitting data and images back to NASA. I like looking at rocks as much as the next person, but one line in the article I read shocked me.

“The $2.6 billion Curiosity made its dramatic arrival on Martian terrain in a spectacle popularly known as [The Seven Minutes of Terror].”

I don’t care about the shaky landing, but rather the $2.6 billion spent. It’s unclear from the article if just the spacecraft cost all that money or the whole mission, but that’s not really important. In either case that’s an awful lot of money for a single space mission. As a country in growing debt is this really how we want to spend our money?

Space travel is interesting, but has no real impact in our day to day lives like health care or unemployment do. What does space travel really offer us? While the prospects are intriguing, how many years will it take for us to terraform Mars or do anything that will be useful to us.

It’s become this symbolic status thing because of the Cold War. The seemingly better nation would reach each milestone first and once the U.S.S.R. conceded defeat in that race we lost our interest. Now China is planning their first mission to the Moon, some say as early as 2016. We may have to look forward in our lifetimes to Space Race 2: This Time It’s Personal.