Justifying the cost of space travel

The BBC has conducted a vox pop survey on whether the cost of the recent (and future) Mars expeditions can be justified. Not surprisingly opinion is mixed and split between ‘man as inquisitive explorers learning how the universe works’ to ‘we should instead use the money to cure cancer and prevent 3rd world starvation’. As I’vesaid before this is not an either/or situation, and as a couple of respondents in the BBC poll suggested, in the grand scheme of state funding space exploration costs far less than many earthly pursuits (e.g military funding, treating people with smoking-related illness, treating obesity, to name but three). I think it’s also too simplistic to suggest that there’s hunger in the world and no cure for cancer (and the rest of the alternative suggestions for how NASA money could be spent) as a result of lack of money.

Out of interest, I thought I’d do some basic fact-finding to put things into perspective:

People, you pays your money you takes your choice.