U.S. Space Exploration and Development
Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its exploration and/or development of space beyond the Earth’s mesosphere.
2011 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first successful human voyage into space. Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s ascent above the atmosphere inspired John F. Kennedy’s famous speech before Congress later that year, in which he declared, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade… not because [it is] easy, but because [it is] hard.”
The Cold War fueled a space race between the USSR and the United States that resulted in tremendous scientific advancements and incredible human achievement. But in the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, as new technological and economic barriers have presented themselves, U.S. interest in exploring outer space has waned considerably—enough so that NASA, at the behest of the federal government, recently discontinued its manned shuttle program.
While many people argue that space exploration fuels new discoveries and provides inspiration for future endeavors on Earth, others believes that the costs of maintaining a space program outweigh the benefits, claiming that many of these programs’ accomplishments have little practical application at home.
This collection provides a foundation on which to compose arguments about U.S. space exploration and development. The articles examine the history of space exploration, as well as practical and philosophical debates related to life, human and otherwise, beyond Earth’s atmosphere. The collection is drawn primarily from our back issues at The World & I eLibrary.