For those who believe the costs of space exploration are greater than the benefits, George Delucas, an astronaut who flew on the 1992 Columbia mission, says, "There will always be people who would like to put an end to space travel, but I don't think that is what our population wants or needs. Our county has always been about exploration and the pursuit of knowledge" (Delucas qtd. in Malick 3). This quote generalizes the attitude many Americans have toward the space program. When the Apollo 11 crew successfully landed on the moon, the crew and millions of Americans were filled with pride and a sense of accomplishment. What most citizens do not realize is how much knowledge and new technology the United States gained through Apollo 11 and the other space missions. Some of these citizens do not believe a vital need for the space program exists. To them, the space program is just a waste of money and human lives. The recent Columbia disaster that resulted in the loss of seven American lives only supports their argument. However, it is not possible way to measure the loss of life and money over the advances in knowledge, technology, and medicine. The only known fact is that the exploration of space has led to some of the most important and convenient advances known to mankind.
The human desire to explore the unknown has led to greater knowledge, technology and new lands. Our history has proven this over and over in the past. When the early Neanderthals left the frozen tundra, they did not know what was in store for them. However, their decision to leave led them to warmer climates and more food. Christopher Columbus did not leave Spain looking for the Americas. He was simply leading a voyage to find shorter trade routes. Without this sense of exploration, it is almost certain mankind would not be as civilized today. No one has the ability to predict what the space program may bring, but, with the possibility of great discoveries