MadSci Network: Computer Science

Re: Do you think the government should continue funding the satellite program?

Date: Tue Apr 8 17:58:11 2003
Posted By: Bryan Mendez, Education and Public Outreach Scientist
Area of science: Computer Science
ID: 1049396288.Cs

Do you think the government should continue funding the satellite program?


That is an interesting question. Perhaps, I'm not the best to answer it since I work on several NASA space science satellite missions. Indeed I do think that the government should continue to fund such programs. But, I'm obviously biased. Perhaps I can give some reasons why someone such as myself feels the space program is important beyond my own self interests.

The space program is all about scientific exploration and the endeavor of science is of critical importance to our nation and all humanity. Through science we learn about the world we live in. We can use the knowledge gained through science to make our lives better and more interesting.

But why should the government fund it and not just leave it up to private industry? Well, in science the open and free exchange of information and ideas is of critical importance. Secrecy and competition are not conducive to good science. If one is more concerned about the bottom line and getting a patent for their new drug-of-the-week than the accuracy of their work then the progress of science is impeded. In addition, a government is more likely to be able to pull together the vast resources needed by endeavors as grandious as the exploration of the Cosmos than any single private industry.

Well, there are a few of my thoughts. I hope they will inspire you to dig more deelply into this issue.

Thanks for your question,
Bryan Méndez, Education and Public Outreach Scientist, UC Berkeley

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