We need to go to space for several reasons. We are explorers. We need the jobs. We need the medical research.
Humans have always been explorers. From the earliest point in time we have been on the move - across continents, across oceans, under the seas, through the air, into space. We need to see, we need to feel, we need to know. We have google-mapped the planet and we still need to know more. We have been to the moon, we have sent probes to the planets and we still need to know more.
We need the jobs. People balk at the large price tag for space exploration. And that is a good thing. But, the vast majority of the price tag goes to salaries. And those salaries go to people right here on earth. Those salaries pay for mortgages, car loans, groceries, movie tickets, cable bills, internet bills, hair cuts, and much more. Every dollar spent for space explorations circulates through our economy several times and keeps many businesses going. Cut space programs and jobs dry up quickly.
Yes there are probably more cost effective ways to do medical research, but there is some research which requires the special environment found in low earth orbit. Cancer research, osteoporosis, chromosome analysis are just a few of the places benefiting from research done in space. For more of these benefits read this ABC News article.
Yes the budget will be cut. That is the political climate in Washington these days. Let's hope they make intelligent cuts. Cuts that make sense. Cuts that don't hamstring NASA's ability to explore, create jobs, and conduct vital research.