Big Ask: Should we keep investing in space travel?

Vision asks three experts whether it's beneficial to keep spending on space exploration

NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s, but is space travel really worth it?

As a culture, we are mildly obsessed with what lies above. Audiences of all ages flock to cinemas to watch how storytellers imagine life and adventures in space. Last year’s highest-grossing films provide a good example; both the child-friendly superhero ensemble Guardians of the Galaxy scored in the top ten along with Interstellar, a tale of searching for mankind's new home.

While some argue humanity would benefit as a whole from a human mission to Mars, or more generally space exploration, others complain that there is much more to do on Earth before we can begin to look elsewhere.

 

Bas Lansdorp, Founder, Mars One argues that a human mission to Mars will jump-start developments including in areas such as energy, food
Bas Lansdorp

“A human mission to Mars will jump-start massive developments in all kinds of areas, a few examples being recycling, solar energy, food production and the advancement of medical technology.”

– Bas Lansdorp, Founder, Mars One

 

Robert Zubrin is President of The Mars Society, a space-advocacy non-profit organization
Robert Zubrin

“[With the creation of the UAE Space Agency] the UAE government is encouraging Emiratis to become pioneers and explorers of new worlds. This challenge will inspire millions of young scientists and engineers, who will contribute to the energy industry and medical research and become technological entrepreneurs. This could lead to the development of a UAE Silicon Valley.”

– Robert Zubrin, President, The Mars Society

 

Robin Hanbury-Tenison Author, explorer and President of the human rights organisation Survival International argues that space exploration i
Robin Hanbury-Tenison

“I have for some time considered space research a gross waste of money, time and effort that could be much better applied to the management of our own planet. Just as improved telescopes are telling us more about outer space, so improved microscopes are revealing the virtual infinity of inner space.”

–  Robin Hanbury-Tenison, Author, explorer and President of the human rights organisation Survival International