View Full Version : Justifying the space program with products

2009-Jul-22, 07:28 PM
With the 40th aniversary, BBC News 24 ran a piece, similar to many more before it, basically naming all the products which supposedly would not have been possible without the Apollo programme. This is a quite common approach to 'selling' the idea of space exploration to the general public.

I have come to think, however, that it might be counter-productive. Exploration, adventure, and discovery are good things in of themselves, and reaching for some commercial benefit that was completely incidental (I doubt Armstrong and Aldrin were thinking, when they touched down, "We've done great things for the shoe industry. And after this, middle class people will be able to filter already drinkable tap water in their homes!") seems to be cheapening the effort.

There are people who want to see everything have a commercial purpose. They are small, petty people who will never get behind space exploration, whatever you say. What is the point in trying to appeal to their better nature if they don't seem to have one?

2009-Jul-22, 08:30 PM
justifying science to the general public is just plain hard to do unless you point to the tangible benefits those people are getting in return.
I hate to break the bad news, But the average Joe is a selfish creature that is quite often unable to look further afield than themselves and what they feel makes their lives more comfortable.
Just see how hard it is to make people try to reduce emissions by conserving fuel and energy. for the average Joe space exploration is something they don't understand. and the media has made an unrealistic image of what it should be. one that NASA is way underfunded to achieve. it tends to paint everything they do as small and pitiful. when in fact we are talking about some pretty grand achievements.
I do not think many people outside of these internet boards really appreciate nor understand just how difficult parking a probe on say Mars really is.