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Space Exploration, the Final Frontier

          Charlotte Bunch

         The Lovett School


         The creation of NASA and space exploration should continue to be funded. With the start

of the Space Race, the United States got involved with reaching the moon. NASA has always

tried to keep the United States ahead of every other nation when it comes to outer space. In the

beginning, NASA created a rough set of rules and regulations. The price of space exploration can

be more than money sometimes. In some tragic accidents, a few people have lost their lives.

From these accidents, NASA has improved the condition, quality, and design of all of the space

shuttles and equipment created. The International Space Station is a current project of NASA and

many other nations. Funding is needed in order for the United States to do its part with the

fifteen other nations involved in the International Space Station. Currently, President Obama is

stopping all lunar missions, and telling NASA to work on ground missions and experiments. This

is a bad idea and the United States should always continue to explore what is not known in


        Space, the final frontier, has been a great mystery for the world. After everyone ran out of

room to explore on Earth, the only other option was to start exploring space. In 1957 the Soviet

Union launched a satellite named Sputnik. A general feeling of fear came over the entire world.

Everyone thought that the Soviets would take over space and then take over the world. The

Soviets then launched another satellite, Barker. (2003, Grinter)This soon turned into a

competition between countries to see who could do the most the fastest, also known as the Space


        October 1, 1958, NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was

created. NASA followed NACA, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. (High Beam

Research 2010) President John F. Kennedy wanted to compete with the Russians. Along with

NASA, President Kennedy urged students nationally to reach a high level of intelligence in order

to catch up with Russian students. The first major mission was getting into space. This cost a lot

of money because nobody really knew what was going to happen. Countless missions and

experiments were done just to create a rocket that would safely go into space and back. The

tough part was putting a man in that rocket. Without the funding placed into the federal budget

this would have never happened. The United States should continue to fund and increase the

budget when it comes to space research and exploration.

        In 1961, the Soviets finally put a man, Major Yuri Gagarin, into space. After this,

President Kennedy met with the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, NASA, to figure

out a way to beat the Soviets’ accomplishment. President Kennedy and the nation knew that this

would be an expensive task. The original price that was set for this was 11 billion dollars. (2009.

Emerson) This grew every time a new necessity was brought up. Three main missions were

created to accomplish a lunar landing. These three missions were Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo.

To begin, scientists and NASA workers gathered over 400,000 people to take on this giant task.

People went to train to be astronauts, to investigate space conditions on man, and to design and

build the space ships. Over 20 different job types were created with NASA, and over 10,000 jobs

were given out. (2010, Wilson)

       The first missions were the Mercury missions. The three main goals of these missions

were to investigate the affect of space on man, to orbit a manned rocket around Earth, and to

have the manned rocked return safely to Earth. In the beginning, guidelines were set to make

these missions as simple as possible and to ensure the utmost safety for the astronauts. These

guidelines set rules that made engineers use already made technology wherever possible and

choose the simplest design for creating the space shuttles. Safety guidelines required the space

shuttles to be able to land in the water, have manual controls, and a reliable escape plan. The

next step in the Mercury missions was astronaut selection. Originally, seven men were

nominated to be the first astronauts of America. These men were an average sample of American

males. The nominees were slightly healthier physically and mentally. These men were volunteers

with military experience and had past experience outside of Earth’s hemisphere. The rising

popularity of these nominees made the men a new type of celebrity. After four years and eight

months the Mercury missions had successfully come to an end. Six out of six manned flights

went as planned out of a 25 flight program. (Grinter, 2003)

       The research of the affect of space on man discovered valuable information for future

NASA workers to use. The research showed that a man could function normally for up to 35

hours as a pilot, engineer, or whatever he needed to be in a weightless area. NASA workers also

learned important lessons in the Mercury missions. Because this was the first major set of flights,

scientists did not know what to expect. Some important things that these workers learned are that

more details in design plans needed to be added, more requirements needed to be added to flight

equipment, testing procedures needed to be more accurate, and the technology used need to be

more responsive. (Grinter, 2003)The Mercury missions were the first major step the United

States took upon entering the space race. Many things were learned and many discoveries were

made. The Mercury missions were concluded to be a success and every goal was accomplished.

(NASA, 2010)

       The second major group of missions was the Gemini project. After the Mercury missions,

workers at NASA realized that an extra step should be put in between Mercury and Apollo.

Similar to the Mercury missions, Gemini project had a set of goals that needed to be

accomplished in order for the United States to continue in hopes of a lunar landing. These three

main goals were to have equipment last two weeks in space, to be able to connect and maneuver

vehicles, and to perfect the return landing of the space shuttle to Earth (Grinter, 2003). The

Gemini project was considered especially successful. The project accomplished its main goals as

well as many others. The one goal that was not fully accomplished was the landing goal. The

overall goal of being able to control the aircraft when landing it was accomplished, but the actual

land landing was canceled. The Gemini project focused on manned flights testing out all of the

necessary equipment. The equipment was tested for response time, maneuverability, and

compatibility. The project was successful just like the Mercury missions. The United States was

then only one set of missions away from an actual lunar landing.

       The last sets of missions were the Apollo missions. These missions include some of the

most famous missions ever. Just like the previous sets of missions, the Apollo missions had

certain goals to accomplish. Technology was to be created that concerned other space interests,

achieve superiority in space, start a program for scientific exploration of the Moon, and to further

the ability that man has to work in space. (Grinter, 2003) Apollo 11 was the most memorable and

famous of the Apollo missions. This was the mission that the United States landed on the Moon

and had humans walk around on it. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were the

three astronauts who manned Apollo 11. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

(Armstrong, 1969). The landing on the moon was a major step in continuing space exploration.

This moon landing proved that if America set its mind to something, it could do anything. Now,

thoughts of what else could be done came into everybody’s minds. “We’re number one on the

runway” (Aldrin, 1969). The United States were the first country to reach the moon. When the

astronauts were up there, nobody else was there competing or trying to win the space race

because the United States had already won.

       Space exploration has had a big price sometimes. Three historic NASA missions were

Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia. On January 27, 1967, during a test run for the Apollo 1

mission, the three astronauts Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee

were sitting inside of the Apollo capsule when a fire broke out. The three tried to escape, but the

hatch was stuck and would not open. Being the first of the Apollo missions, this did not look

well for NASA’s plans of getting to the moon. This tragedy was a wake up call for the designers,

and new requirements were set to ensure an accident like this would never happen again. Now

escape hatches are put into the capsules in case this should ever happen again.

       Another tragic accident was the Challenger. The Challenger was the second aircraft in a

line of reusable shuttles. Normally a shuttle would be discarded, but the Challenger had flown in

nine other missions before this one. January 28, 1986, just 73 seconds after the launch, the

shuttle fuel tanks exploded. On that flight were seven people including Francis R. Scobee,

Michael J. Smith, Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A Resnik, Gregory B. Jarvis,

and Sharon Christa McAuliffe. Sharon McAuliffe was the first person to ever fly in the Teachers

in Space Program, TISP. She was chosen from over 11,000 applicants. President Ronald Reagan

issued a special commission to investigate why the Challenger exploded. The investigators found

out that one of the seals on a rocket fuel tank was faulty, and because of how cold it was that

day, gas leaked through the seal (Greene). When it came time to throttle up, the booster rocket’s

flames were unable to pass through the faulty seal. This caused the flames to burn through the

supports that attached it to the shuttle and a fuel tank. When the booster broke loose, it collided

with a liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen tank which when mixed with the open fuel tank, ignited.

The cause of this was only the faulty seal, but NASA officials still allowed the launch despite

warnings from other NASA engineers (Greene). This all could have been prevented with stricter

regulations for shuttle inspections. Now the regulations for safety and quality of the shuttle are

much higher.

       The most recent of these tragic events was the Columbia mission. The crew was only 16

minuets away from landing back home when the orbiter started coming apart. On February 1,

2003, the Columbia was on its way back into the atmosphere when Mission Control lost all

contact. During the launch a piece of foam had fallen of one of the shuttle wings. NASA had no

idea what an impact this would make. Upon re-entering the atmosphere the orbiter broke apart

because there was a whole from where the foam had fallen off. Once again, designs were looked

at more carefully and inspections were more particular as a result.

       “Remember them not how they died, but what they lived for” (2010, NASA.) All of these

astronauts knew the risks of doing what they were doing. These people had unbelievable courage

but still did what they did to further the exploration of space, the moon, and the other planets.

The lives of these people resulted in making NASA have stronger designs, regulations, and

technology. Without these events critical designs might have never been drawn and important

lessons would have never been learned by the NASA crew. These people lived for the

exploration, research, and thrill of outer space.

       After the moon had been reached, NASA needed something else as a goal. In the 90’s,

the International Space Station started being worked on. There are currently 15 nations working

on the construction of the Space Station. The Station is assembled by separately sending parts

into space and having astronauts connect them there. Eight cylinder shaped modules are

supposed to be on the completed station. Eight solar panels will supply all of the power for the

station. That will be more than 100 kilowatts to the station. The first parts of the International

Space Station were launched in 1998 with two Russian astronauts and one American astronaut

(Dunbar, 2007). This station is helping achieve International Diplomacy because each nation

working on this has to cooperate and compromise. NASA has gone over $5 billion over the

initial budget, and because of this the plan of enlarging the crew had to be stopped (Scolese).The

International Space Station provides a full time low gravity science lab. Some experiments

cannot be done on Earth because it is impossible to recreate the aspects of space. (NASA, 2003)

       The budget request for 2010 is $18.686 billion (Scolese).This request is to help fund

everything that NASA hopes to accomplish this year. This includes more lunar missions and

more work on the International Space Station. Obama plans to approve part of this budget

request. President Obama believes that NASA should stop all lunar missions and completely stop

the Constellation Program. Obama wants NASA to continue research on global climate change,

because of the record changes happening today.

       After the Columbia accident in 2003, NASA needed to regroup. Meetings and gatherings

were held to redo what NASA was doing. After these meetings new goals were set and the

program assigned to carry out these goals was named the Constellation Program. The goals were

to continue on with existing requirements, return to the moon, and prepare to venture further than

Mars and the asteroids. The Constellation Program focused on the future of the moon. After

astronauts were supposed to return, a moon colony was being looked at. The moon was also

being considered as a source for water. Billions of dollars were put into the Constellation

Program and it has been one of the top priorities of NASA.

       Obama and others believe that the Constellation Program is a waste of time and money.

The program is said to be behind schedule, and time is of the essence. Obama’s plan would be to

start fresh with a new program. That would allow for NASA to catch up on deadlines and get

back on track. The new program would allow for the United States to “get back to the moon

more efficiently” (Freidman). Cutting the Constellation Program would leave a lot of loose ends.

Billions of dollars has already been spent on the program. “Some of the things they are working

on could be used regardless of the program” (Pike, 2010) In space exploration, most of the

equipment is versatile. A spaceship for one program could easily be tweaked to work in another

program, but some of the space equipment cannot be used in another program. A rocket designed

to fly to the moon would not be able to just be switched to fly to mars. Some of the money spent

on this program is just going to be wasted. Currently over 10 billion dollars has been put into the

Constellation Program, but the question is how much of that is NASA going to get back.

(Dennis, 2010)

       Some of the technology that NASA has created has made a huge impact on life on Earth.

The Apollo missions gave humans kidney dialysis. Kidneys naturally are supposed to filter and

get rid of waste from the blood. Some people’s kidneys are dysfunctional though, and so this

process does not happen as naturally for them. The Apollo missions helped out with kidney

dialysis because the space shuttles also had to drain out waste and doctors modified the

technology to work in a human body. (Nordqvist, 2009)PA new artificial heart came from

devices made for the Space Shuttle, and NASA has developed insulin pumps that eliminate the

need for diabetic shots. These things have become essential in some people’s lives and would

have never been invented without NASA and space exploration.

       With the cancellation of this project, Obama says he will invest in longer term programs

and projects to get the United States to Mars and other new planets. He is encouraging private

investors to transport people into space. Because private companies taking over space

exploration, “government spending is unnecessary and wasteful” (MsMaken 2010). Considering

the tough economic times and Obama trying to pass this new health care, the more money the

government can save the better. Private companies are not federally funded. If private companies

took over space exploration, the government could cut it out of the budget. One of the private

companies Obama is looking at is Virgin Galactic.

       The recent changes in the federal budget have caused a bunch of different reactions

among the public. One of the most shocking reactions was when former NASA astronauts got

together to write a letter to President Obama regarding disagreement in his idea. Neil Armstrong,

James Lovell, and Eugene Cernan wrote an open letter to Obama. The main concern of the

astronauts is the Constellation Program. That letter described humongous disagreement to the

decision that President Obama is making. All of the astronauts were former commanders in the

Apollo missions and are concerned about what will happen to the 10 billion already spent on the

Constellation Program. (Dennis, 2010)

       The United States needs to keep the lead in space. Cancelling NASA programs is a sure

way to put that lead in jeopardy. The cancellation means that big commercial space ships will not

be available for awhile and the United States may have to rely on Russia for transportation. The

astronauts up in the International Space Station will be “hostages of Russia” (Orient, 2010). The

United States will have to pay to get the astronauts into orbit and to get them back. Some may

say that the race ended a long time ago when America reached the moon first, but deep down

there is always a competition between countries to see who can do what, and asking for help is a

major setback for the United States. Russia was the reason the United States took such a big

interest in space exploration. Russia was the reason NASA was created. Russia was the reason

that America has come so far in space. And now, it has come full circle and the United States is

asking Russia for help.

       The economy is not doing too well, the unemployment rate is through the roof, the

United States is involved with two pretty serious wars, and relief is still being sent to Haiti and

Chile. The United States is going through a rough patch. The last thing that needs to happen is

for America to lose the lead in space. This major setback makes the lead vulnerable for enemy

countries, such as, China. The Chinese have just recently popped up into the world. China is

close to getting to the moon. Because the Constellation project was cancelled, the Chinese are

said to reach the moon before we have a chance to again. With the Chinese furthering their

knowledge of space, another space scare could happen similar to the one in the 50s.

       The whole concept that Obama is trying to pass for NASA needs to be stopped. Private

companies should not run the national space program, programs should not be cut after countless

time and money have been spent on them, the country should not have to start relying on other

countries for rides into space, and the country should not put all hope into somewhat achievable

possibilities. Asking private companies to take over national space exploration is just asking for

problems. Relying on other countries makes the United States vulnerable and seem weaker to the

other countries out there. The United States needs to continue funding for NASA and space


       One of the most important reasons to explore space is because the opportunity is there.

“The society that stops exploring and starts to stagnate begins to die.” (Culp, 1999) Exploring

space keeps NASA and basically everyone on their toes. The questioning and wondering that

space exploration brings to many people’s minds is extraordinary. Constant work keeps the mind

sharp and quick thinking. (Culp, 2010) Space can be said to be humans’ final limitation, the last

conquest for the world, the final frontier. This should be the only reason needed to continue

space exploration.

       The human population on Earth is increasing at an unbelievably fast rate. In the year

1960 the world had approximately 3 billion people. 40 years later, in 2000, the population

doubled to 6 billion people. In the year 2045 the earth is supposed to have around 9 billion

people. (US Census Bureau, 2010) With the rapid population growth rate, sooner or later the

Earth is going to run out of room. The Constellation Program was working on finding a place on

the moon to create and test out a moon colony. A crater near the volcanic Marius Hills was being

scoped out by NASA. The crater was just big enough to fit a colony, and had all the right

requirements. A thin layer of lava protected the crater from harsh temperatures and any disasters

that may happen because of meteors. (CNN, 2010) Now plans for this moon colony have been

moved to start up again in 2020. NASA is going to work on terraforming, or altering, the moon

so that humans could live on it. (Culp, 1999)When the Earth runs out of room or becomes

overcrowded, it would be handy to have a place to move to. The population is not going to slow

down anytime soon and NASA needs to get to work on building moon bases and colonies.

       Along with the increase in population and the decrease of room on planet Earth, natural

resources are running out. The moon has some of the resources that humans need. Water was just

recently discovered. (O’Neill, 2010) Many more resources may be out there if space exploration

continues. If nobody is out there looking for resources then new resources will never be found.

       In 1960, NASA released the Corona series. This series were a series of satellites sent out

to spy on China and the Soviet Union. This was the time of the Cold War. The satellites took

photographs that could track what both countries were doing. One photograph was a shot of a

Russian air force base. Satellites help protect the national security of the United States. Without

funding NASA will not be able to produce satellites. (Tara, 1997)Space exploration would

advance the research and development of satellites and other equipment. Google Earth is just one

of the examples of how detailed satellite pictures can get. Telestar I was the first satellite to send

transcontinental black and white color. Telestar I was created and sent up to orbit in 1962. (Tara,

1997) Nowadays, satellites can transmit colored television shows to almost every country in the

world. Satellites would have never come this far if NASA had lost the funding. If funding is cut

the world will never know how much more satellites can do.

       Also, the United States should continue work on the International Space Station. The

United States and Russia are the two main countries who work on space exploration. The United

States builds more effective space transportation and Russia builds better space satellites. (Gray,

2010) To get the best research and results both countries need to both be interested and active in

the development of the station. Space exploration is a universal concept. The International Space

Station helps keep peace between the United States, Russia, and all of the other countries

involved. To stop participating in the development of the space station may cause unwanted and

unintentional tensions between Russia and the United States. International Diplomacy is one of

the main reasons that the United States went into space in the first place. The space race against

Russia showed that the United States was able to do whatever is needed to get what the country

wants done. The International Space Station is the epitome of international diplomacy. A group

of countries are coming together to work on the advancement of space research and exploration.

“A creative conquest of space will serve as a wonderful substitute for war,” James McDonnell.

Exploring space will keep the minds of people busy with thoughts of greater possibilities and not

the harsh thoughts of war. Space should not be something to fight about, but something to


       “What was most significant about the lunar voyage was not that man set foot on the

Moon but they set eye on the earth” (Cousins, 1979) The Earth was always a great wonder to the

world. With the inventions of satellites and the trips to outer space, people have learned so much

more about planet earth. Satellites can track weather, ocean patterns, and much more. Also,

telescopes, such as the Hubble, can see far out in to the unknown and can discover new planets,

galaxies, and stars. NASA created probes and rovers that can explore multiple planets. NASA is

also working on creating probes that can get further out into space to planets like Mars, Saturn,

and Jupiter. Research capabilities increased dramatically when humans went up into space.

       “We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we

discovered the earth” (Anders,). Space exploration can uncover new and exciting things. Space

exploration can bring new technologies, satellites, and maybe even new life forms. Space

explorations can keep humans’ minds in tip top shape. Space exploration can do all these things,

but exploring can also show what the earth already has and the many blessings on it. Going into

space and looking back down on earth was an emotional time for most astronauts, some even

cried. NASA should continue to be funded and should not postpone returning to the moon. The

United States should keep and embrace the lead in space. The International Space Station is close

to being completed, and countries are beginning to work together for one common purpose. To

just stop plans to go back to the moon would devastatingly hurt the United States of America.


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