Unit 2

Annotated bibliography

Question: “is it responsible for the US to pour a significant amount of money into space colonization?”



     As we move forward, we advance in technology and as a civilization. This progression involves us in trying to achieve even greater feats than what we have already accomplished as a society. One of the things heavily considered to be an amazing feat of humanity is achieving space travel. It was and still is considered to be humanity’s next step in advancing. There are scientists who work really hard to help bring humanity to new heights by bringing us closer to understanding outer space and finding ways to reach even further out from our planet. An idea that has intrigued me and one that I’m confident is an objective for many of those scientists whom I referred to is the idea of space colonization. It seems like such a Sci-Fi like concept, but it is something that would bring humanity to a much more advanced point then it is now and it would solve our problems regarding the planet’s ability to sustain 7 billion of us. I wonder why it is that we haven’t heard nearly as much about getting closer to that goal besides maybe the recent rover landing on Mars. It then makes me wonder how much effort is actually given to the purpose of furthering our advancement into space. Now we already know that the U.S has its own space program NASA that is responsible for the country’s space expenditures. Like all of the United States’ assets, everything has a budget and I wonder how much of government spending goes towards NASA. Now I’m not saying that I think that the U.S isn’t pouring as much money as they should be into NASA, but rather what if they would pour more money into NASA for the purpose of furthering space exploration and in turn reaching the point of space colonization. That is my question, “would it be responsible for the U.S to pour a significant amount of money into space colonization?” While searching for a reasonable answer to this I expect to find things such as the U.S’ budgeting and how much goes towards NASA, and how far we currently are in the ways of space exploration. I’m quite curious how far we truly have gotten to spreading humanity past just this planet.


Source 1: Richard S. Conley and Wendy Whitman Cobb (September 2010) “The Perils of Presidential Leadership on Space Policy: The Politics of Congressional Budgeting for NASA, 1958-2008”


     In this research paper, they explore what it is that limits NASA’s budgeting and their space policies. Multiple factors go into the budget for NASA such as the president’s position on space programs, members of congress and their positions, and NASA’s own history of endeavors. Though there was a lot of support for NASA during the APOLLO era, since then it has essentially become a side objective compared to pretty much every political standpoint. While the coming president’s continue to put objectives of space exploration to the side, it lessens the attention that the people give to it as well while letting those in congress want to cut the government budget at points to target NASA. Other reasons include the nature of NASA as an agency being almost stand alone with no major group of interest behind them. Because of these kinds of circumstances, NASA has been cut billions out of their annual financial requests. 


     In all honesty, I pretty much expected the case to be a lot like this. At least, I had pictured that part of the reason why they probably don’t get as much of a budget for various endeavors of space exploration. However, I wouldn’t think that they would have billions cut out of what they would normally receive. This paper opened my eyes a bit to the larger issue at hand. I figured that more domestic issues might find themselves center and drawing funds, but the capacity by which it affects the president’s actions, that of congress’, and the people’s view is interesting to say the least. When you really consider it, it does make perfect sense that this is the way that things are. 


     This paper was written in conjunction by an Associate Professor and PHD candidate from the University of Florida. According to a caption also present at the start, this was prepared for the American Political Science Association Conference in Washington D.C. For that reason their presentation was very formal. This conference is meant to support scholars by presenting an environment by which they can present their work. For this case a paper breaking down the issue of presidential influence on space policy with each main case and point sectioned off accomplishes their objective quite directly. These 2 handled the paper in a very informative and explicit manner even in small things such as citing every quote verbatim that comes up during their analysis.


Source 2: Stephen Petranek (March 2015) “Your kids might live on Mars. Here’s how they’ll survive.”


     In this presentation, Journalist Stephen Petranek explains how life on Mars would be possible and how soon we may actually be able to accomplish living there. Thanks to various tools and theories created by the likes of NASA and many other individuals, we solve some of the issues that we thought may be impossible for us to overcome on a planet such as Mars. These issues include our basic necessities required for Living. As it turns out our needs for food, water, clothing, shelter, and air are all covered to some large extent by those tools and theories that I mentioned. There is a CO2 to O2 converter created by a scientist at MIT, a dehumidifier tool to turn the extremely yet surprisingly humid atmosphere of Mars into drinkable water, a space suit created by another MIT scientist to block radiation and keep you warm enough for Mars like temperatures, shelter in the form of pressurized buildings and landers (I assume they mean the space shuttles to carry people there initially) or underground settlements, and dried food plus whatever crops to be planted during the process of terraforming/making Mars more like Earth. On that note terraforming according to what is mentioned is possible with all the ice that was actually found underneath the surface. The biggest issue in it all is the means by which we would get to Mars as that has been the biggest issue thus far. However, with the likes of Elon Musk with his company SpaceX we may be seeing a breakthrough (Elon Musk says people will be on Mars by 2025 according to Petranek).


     I was so pleasantly surprised to see that this much was done in the way of preparing for colonization on Mars, especially since that is our target for creating sustainable life on another planet. This particular presentation was one I decided to use as a source for the added proof that there is viability to colonizing another planet and as it would show, it is more than likely possible. It seems that the big thing to worry about now is how an individual would be able to make it to Mars. That is why there is still time and money to be invested into the likes of NASA and SpaceX.


     Stephen Petranek is a lead editor of the Breakthrough Technology Alert, a newsletter that introduces scientific breakthroughs and investment opportunities in them. He has also had a book “How We’ll Live on Mars” published through TED books the same year as well as having given another TED Talk presentation 12 years before. He is obviously experienced enough on the matter to speak on it and it shows in the presentation. He does well to prove his point that it is more than possible for humans to be on Mars by covering each point of viability with extreme detail. He even says that he has spoken with Elon Musk for the purpose of showing how ambitious he is and how confident our progress will be. It is executed in such a light yet informative matter that would keep both the average viewer and endowed scientist/researcher entertained.


Source 3: Michael D. Griffin “Space Exploration: Real Reasons and Acceptable Reasons”


     This was a speech given by Micheal D. Griffin, an administrator at NASA after receiving the Quasar award. He speaks on the urgent matter of why the people still support NASA and endeavors in space. These reasons as he explains them are either “acceptable reasons” or “real reasons”. As far as the acceptable reasons go, there is what he quotes from President George W. Bush, “The President, quite correctly said that we do it for purposes of scientific discovery, economic benefit, and national security.” He also brings up what was said by Presidential Science Advisor Jack Marburger which is that space exploration comes down to “…whether or not we want to bring the solar system within mankind’s sphere of economic influence”. These “acceptable reasons” are the more logical ones to bring up when considering the reasons for space exploration. The “real reasons” are those by which we would want to see advancements in space exploration. Reasons such as seeing an actual person rather than a drone sent out to experience something out there in space as a representative for all of humankind. These kinds of reasons can be described as those of competitiveness, curiosity, and monument building. There is also the point that in addressing the real reasons, we actually satisfy the acceptable reasons in the process. One great example being those that built the cathedrals hundreds of years ago. They did it for accomplishment yet it made way for things of engineering and societal benefits. NASA according to Griffin would accomplish more than just advancing technologies of space exploration and satisfying human curiosity/accomplishment.


     In all of the research so far finding reasons for why space exploration is necessary was key to bring it all together. After searching and finding this I have to say, it is far less than I would imagine. While there is a list of reasons you can make the case of needing to expand our progress of space exploration, they would be somewhat redundant and avoid the reason like Griffin explains, because it would satisfy our curiosities and senses of accomplishment. It makes sense though. It is what I was thinking before I started this research. I resonated a lot with what Griffin was saying in this speech. I feel like we all support NASA without knowing much of what they’re even doing and who knows how much that will actually hold up. This is especially when you consider it includes those that have to make the decisions on how much is focused on NASA as far as funding goes. Overall, this was quite the satisfying piece to come across in my research.


     As far as credentials go, it speaks for itself that he is both an administrator at NASA and receiving an award. This speech, then is done for the purpose of uplifting those gathered for this occasion. While everyone is gathered like that he takes it as an opportunity to address NASA’s purpose to the people and why they support it. The points that he makes about the reasons they continue to work towards advancing technologies for the purpose of space exploration are interesting in content. It is especially interesting and effective how he uses pathos as both an appeal to his audience in the moment as well as the major point of his speech. 



     This research has been quite the experience. It was difficult finding exactly what I thought I needed to fully explore my question and I am satisfied with the results of it. Through it I have gotten an idea of what kind of process goes when the U.S government wants to budget their agencies and the scenario that NASA finds itself in. From the second source I learned how viable colonization is at this point to prove whether or not it is still reasonable to point a substantial amount of effort towards pushing space exploration technology. Surprisingly, we are a lot closer to the point where it could actually happen then I thought that we would be. And from the last source I was searching for concrete reasoning as to why it was necessary to back these efforts. While it isn’t some heavy research piece on those reasons, I find it to be just as effective in doing so. It touches base with logical reasons as to why, but finds the true reason for it to be on a more emotional level. I think that’s perfect though because when you trace the logic behind supporting efforts such as NASA back to the core, it has to do with what satisfies the people of this country. They influence the political climate and therefore would affect how much the government puts towards an agency like NASA. With all this being said, who should be the ones that receive this information? To that I believe that it should be your average person. It could have been something that I directed in a more statistical and informative way, but it would change my intention and audience. My question is one that I formulated with the intention of satisfying the curiosity of the matter. To that extent I feel that your average person going about their life could scroll through their social media and come across this showing mutual interest. After all, if this were to go beyond just being something people see and forget about immediately, it could be something that influences (like I mentioned) the political climate as something the people want. I think overall that what I found was more than sufficient to answer my question.

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