Some may ask if the money is well spent? Whilst others suggest the money would be better spent on more tangible things that help 'ordinary' people.
This is certainly a debate that has some merit - but I wonder if many people think about the less obvious aspect of this huge monetary investment, i.e the Space spin-offs.
Space exploration has required the development of many new technologies related not only to the spacecraft and launch hardware itself, but also to astronaut health & safety, satellite systems, computer software development, communication technology, and much much more. Scientists invent new products and techniques for use in Space, but these innovations very often have applicability to terrestrial Earth.
NASA are currently developing a volcano alert system using a piece of equipment adapted from a device used to detect hazardous gases on the shuttle launch pad. With around 1500 volcanoes considered to be active in the world, this spin-off technology could ultimately save many thousands of lives if an 'early warning' system could be developed.
In November 1985 in Columbia, South America over 23,000 people were killed in the town of Armero and surrounding areas when the volcano Nevado del Ruiz erupted. Having witnessed at first hand the devastation caused by such an event whilst working with survivors, I can only say . . . . . it will be money well spent!
Here is the NASA link if you would like to see more details: