By Dr. Gary L. Deel  |  03/15/2024

why should we explore space


For centuries, humans have been fascinated by the mysteries of the universe, driving us to venture beyond our planet and explore unknown environments beyond our solar system. In today’s world, the question of why we should embark on space exploration voyages goes beyond mere curiosity.

Ultimately, space exploration is a necessity with wide-ranging implications. It’s not just an endeavor; instead, it involves both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits to humanity.


Space Exploration Advances Scientific Understanding

At the core of our pursuit for space exploration lies humanity’s thirst for knowledge. The universe – with its galaxies, stars, and planets – awaits our full understanding.

By venturing into space, scientists can utilize a multitude of instruments – such as probes, satellites, and state-of-the-art telescopes. They can gather data about celestial bodies and investigate the universe in its natural state.

Exploring our solar system and beyond it not only deepens our comprehension of the cosmos, but also contributes significantly to advancements in astrophysics and cosmology.

Space exploration plays a huge role in expanding our understanding of the universe – from studying planets to learning the mysteries of black holes, dark matter, dark energy, and other groundbreaking subjects.


Space Exploration Is an Opportunity to Search for Other Habitats and Alien Life

The search for other potential habitats and intelligent life is an integral part of space exploration. Scientists examine the atmospheres of exoplanets and identify potentially habitable celestial bodies to determine if conditions exist that could support life beyond our planet.

Space exploration is also a chance to answer the question of whether we are alone in the vastness of the universe or if distant civilizations actually exist. It offers greater insights into the origins and existence of life itself.


Space Exploration Is a Catalyst for Developing Technology and Economic Prosperity

The challenges of space exploration act as a catalyst for innovation and drive advancements in fields like astrobiology and astrochemistry, which leads to cutting-edge developments with far-ranging implications here on Earth. Many scientific breakthroughs have applications across different industries, benefiting society as a whole.


GPS Technology and Other Valuable Space Exploration Spin-Offs

Throughout history, numerous technological products used for space exploration, such as cell phone cameras, solar panels, and emergency beacons that use satellite technology, have seamlessly transitioned into everyday technologies commonly used by most of the world's population. A prime example is the Global Positioning System (GPS), which relies on satellite navigation to provide location information.

Originally created for space missions, GPS has now become an important part of our lives. It influences a wide range of industries – including transportation and agriculture – while also offering precise location-based services around the world.


The Economic Promise of Space Exploration

But the economic advantages of space exploration go beyond mere technological advancements. The growth of the space travel industry – involving both government space agencies and private companies – contributes to job creation and economic progress.

Collaborative efforts between private entities in space exploration drive competition and innovation in this sector. As a result, there are technological advancements that benefit not only space missions but also various industries here on Earth.


Space Exploration Serves Human Survival Interests

Despite Earth’s nature, it is not impervious to celestial threats that have the potential for catastrophic consequences on human life as we know it. One crucial aspect of space exploration is the identification and monitoring of near-Earth objects (NEOs) such as asteroids and comets that could pose a risk to our planet.

Developing the capability to detect, track, and potentially mitigate the impact of NEOs plays a critical role in defense strategies. Space exploration provides us with the tools, space resources, and knowledge to protect our planet from the dangers that exist in the vastness of space.


The Potential for Colonization

Exploration efforts also give humanity an opportunity to establish a presence beyond our own planet. As our population continues to grow and Earth’s resources become more and more strained, the idea of colonizing space must evolve from being merely a dream to a potential solution for ensuring the long-term survival of our species. Perhaps one day, we might see a space settlement on Mars or other environment that could be made hospitable to human life.

By learning how to live in space environments such as the International Space Station (ISS) and other spacecraft, we can gain important insights into the challenges of sustainable space life, such as managing resources, discovering how the human body can remain healthy in space environments, creating life support systems, and being responsible stewards of our environment. Hopefully, these lessons for space explorers can also be applied back on Earth to avoid further catastrophes by interactions with other countries.


Space Exploration Fosters International Cooperation and Trust

Because space exploration is collaborative, it can foster cooperation and diplomacy between different countries. Geopolitical tensions often dominate the relations between different countries, but space missions requiring the joint efforts of two or more countries can bring them together as they pursue common goals.

The International Space Station, for example, involves collaboration with space agencies from the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada. All of these agencies must work together in an international partnership to maintain a continuous human presence in space.

Participating in projects for exploring space goes beyond mere scientific cooperation, however. It also helps build trust among nations, facilitates the exchange of expertise, and promotes peaceful collaboration that will ultimately benefit the next generation of humanity.

The collective experience of venturing into the vastness of space brings people together, and it gives them a purpose, regardless of their political or cultural differences.


The Exploration of Outer Space Inspires Us to Improve Ourselves

The exploration of space showcases humanity’s curiosity and our determination to conduct research and overcome challenges. New technologies in the space race – such as the Apollo moon landings, the James Webb Space Telescope, robotic spacecraft, the space shuttle program, and the construction of the International Space Station – not only demonstrated the capabilities of human innovation, but they also left an everlasting impact on all of us.

For everyone, the iconic images of Earth as seen from space with the aid of advanced technology instilled a sense of interconnectedness and environmental awareness. Through satellite imagery, we developed a greater appreciation of Earth’s beauty.

Investing in space exploration sends a message to society about the potential within each individual. The obstacles involved with space travel require qualities such as creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and perseverance, attributes that are all crucial for addressing the social, economic, and national security problems faced by humanity.


Exploring Space Fosters Societal Values That Will Benefit Humanity

By creating a culture that embraces space exploration as important, we can develop a society that values education, innovation, and the relentless pursuit of knowledge. It creates the groundwork for a future where humanity pushes boundaries and makes important achievements.

Additionally, the exploration of space will inspire future generations. Children and young adults growing up in a world touched by the wonders of space exploration and human spaceflight are far more likely to be captivated by fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The impact of the space program and space exploration on education is profound. It can inspire students to dream big, think smart, and pursue private-sector or public-sector careers that contribute to the advancement of knowledge and technology.

Space exploration is like embarking on a journey of self-discovery. It’s an opportunity to understand our role in the universe, and it’s a testament to the unwavering human spirit of curiosity and determination.

As we continue to study other planets in our solar system and elsewhere, marvel at the beauty of the night sky, and contemplate the universe’s mysteries that are yet to be discovered, venturing into space is a transformative endeavor that aims to improve humanity.


APU Space Studies Degrees

Degree programs focused on space studies like the ones provided by American Public University (APU) are useful for students seeking a greater understanding of space exploration. These programs typically include courses that cover fields such as astrophysics, astronomy, planetary science, space programs, and space technology.

The hands-on learning opportunities incorporated in these programs allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world situations through activities like online laboratory work, research, and practical projects.

In our space studies programs, the courses are carefully designed to promote specific learning goals. For example, one master’s-level course called "SPST631 Astrophysical Studies" delves into various aspects of astrophysics. Students explore subjects like star properties, galaxy characteristics, diversity on other planets, and cosmic structure dynamics, while simultaneously examining their underlying processes.

The space studies courses offered at APU also integrate the knowledge from other fields. This holistic approach allows students to appreciate the significance of space administration and space exploration. Ultimately, our space studies programs equip individuals with knowledge, practical skills, and a multidisciplinary mindset, enabling them to contribute to the continuous exploration of our expansive universe.

For more information about our space studies degrees, visit our program page.

About the Author
Dr. Gary Deel is an associate professor with the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business at American Public University. He currently holds 13 degrees in areas such as space studies, hospitality and tourism management, psychology, higher education administration, and criminal justice, including a J.D. in Law and a Ph.D. in hospitality/business management. He is currently working on another degree and teaches human resources and employment law classes for American Public University, the University of Central Florida, Colorado State University, and others.

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