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Is the U.S. space program worth its price tag? Here's what some students at Southern Lehigh High in Coopersburg, PA, had to say.

Here's what some students at Southern LeHigh in Coopersburg, PA, had to say.

YES In these difficult times, it is inevitable that the value of the space program will be questioned. At first glance, the program seems to be a large drain on our economy. However, in looking more closely, we feel that the benefits far outweigh the costs.

BETTER LIVES

Every day, in many ways, the space program serves us and makes our lives better. For instance, satellites surrounding the globe allow us to link with countries and people in an instance. It is impossible for us now to contemplate not being able to reach relatives on a foreign continent or not seeing international news "live."

We are no longer at the mercy of unexpected weather patterns that kill hundreds, as our weather satellites warn us of impending disaster. Farmers and foresters benefit from remote imaging, as they receive reports about river flooding and forest fires. Our future itself is more secure as we heed NASA's warnings about the depleted ozone layer.

When we travel we are safer than before, thanks to aeronautical design testing and the development of new fire-resistant fabrics and structures.

We are healthier than our counterparts at the end of the last century, thanks in part to the space program. In preparing for humans in space, NASA developed medical imaging technologies such as MRIs and CAT scans. As NASA continues such experiments, it is leading the way to better medical diagnosis and treatment.

JOBS

Our generation is about to take part in the job market. We see the space program not only employing more than 75,000 workers at present, but also opening up new areas of employment in businesses related to space program spinoffs. With millions out of work, any program that holds out the hope of lowering unemployment should be supported.

As we inherit the world from our parents, we find that no longer are there barriers between countries; we all find ourselves passengers on our mother planet. Nations are now cooperating to plan space projects and jointly share in their benefits. Cosmonauts from the former Soviet Union, long our Cold War enemy, may soon fly in orbit with us on a space station. Germans, Chinese, French, Japanese--all are in space together, sharing the vision of one world, the beautiful world they see below them.

As high school students, we are not for from the days when we say everything with a curious eye. In the past, children's curiousity was attached to earthly things--solving the mystery of how tadpoles turn into frogs, watching ants scamper along the ground. The space program will allow the children of tomorrow to contemplate the riddle of back holes and watch galaxies collide. It opens new horizons of knowledge. It gives us tools with which to reach into an unknown future. It says to us, dream, learn, acquire knowledge that will let you break the bounds of Earth, and fly among the stars.

At this time, America is the only superpower. We should lead the way, not only in bringing about peace and friendship on Earth, but in exploring the heavens for the benefit of all. Findings out about our place in the universe is a direction we should take.

No Our country today finds itself at a crossroads. Do we focus on our problems here on Earth, or do we throw or money out into space?

Congress will likely spend over $70 billion on the space program over the next five years. This is an incredibly amount of money, money that we do not have.

PROBLEMS HERE ON EARTH

It is hard to justify the expenditure of such a vast sum. Today our nation faces a long list of problems. Our environment is dangerously polluted. Our educational system lags behind that of other countries, especially in math and science. National health care costs are skyrocketing. AIDS is a growing challenge. Thousands of homeless wander out streets, facing a bleak future. Our national deficit is increasing. How can we spend vast amounts of money in space when so much is needed here on Earth? Psychologically, a space station or lunar base would give humans an excuse to let Earth's environment go to ruin.

At this point in time, to fly into space is a great risk that need not be taken. We all remember the tragic Challenger flight of 1986, and the horrible death of the crew. We do not want this to happen again. The Mars Observer floated out into space, a $1 billion waste of money. The Hubble telescope winks its $1.6 billion eye blindly, as NASA astronauts perform $690 million worth of repairs. It is evident that NASA is trying to do things that it is incapable of doing. With this poor track record, why would we continue to endanger lives and resources?

We are the taxpayers of the future. We already will inherit a huge national deficit. Why must we also inherit a risky, inefficient, money-wasting space program? What would we get for our money? For us to spend this money money, there should be a higher guarantee of success.

RISKS vs. BENEFITS

It is obvious that the space program has brought about some benefits, but the cost is too high. We agree that the space program should continue, but on a much smaller scale. We need to concentrate on fixing what has already gone astray in this nation. We must clean up the planet before we pollute space. NASA needs to learn how to concentrate on one problem at a time. We should use some of the money that would go to the space program to create more jobs in other fields. We should focus our education on solving earthly problems before creating new and different ones in space.

In considering how to trim the space program, we should look to international projects, supported by several nations that would share the high cost. We should select specific programs that will benefit the most people. The days of spending $10 million to search for extraterrestrials should be over. We should turn our sights toward our planet and our people, rather than peering out toward unknown galaxies.

There may come a time for further study and exploration of space, and even perhaps colonization of sister planets. But right now there is too much to do here on Earth to be throwing our hard-earned dollars into the black hold of space.
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Title Annotation:pro and con
Publication:Science World
Date:Feb 25, 1994
Words:1076
Previous Article:NASA: lost in space?
Next Article:From single cell to full-grown "you".
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