English 9 Argumentative/Debate Essay Assignment Purpose

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English 9 Argumentative/Debate Essay Assignment
Purpose: The purpose of this essay assignment is for your debate team to lay out your arguments in a clear fashion before the actual debate, so that you are well informed and prepared. This essay will also be given to your opponents in advance of the debate so that they can prepare for your case, and vice versa. Your main task, as it is in the debate, is to convince a reasonable but previously uninformed reader to support your side of the proposition.

Time Schedule

Monday, 5/9: Introduction to the essay and the powa.org website.

Tuesday, 5/10: Pro/Con lists, tentative resolution, as well as three additional cited sources due.

Weds.., 5/11: Statement of the case due; resolutions finalized and sides assigned.

Thurs., 5/12: Plagiarism lesson. Practice paragraphs due.

Friday, 5/13: Rough drafts of individual essay sections worked on in class. Assign sections so that each member has a clear responsibility and equal workload. Weekend homework is to work on drafting separate components of essay.

Monday, 5/16: Rough drafts of essay sections due—individually. Revise and edit essay sections and merge into one document.

Tuesday, 5/17: Rough drafts of merged essay due—transition to preparing for a speech.



This is an argumentative essay, which is an extension of a typical thesis/support essay. You have a stand on the proposition (resolution), which will serve as your thesis. For example, if you were the affirmative team arguing about the death penalty, your thesis would be something like, “The death penalty should be abolished because…” If you are the negative team, your thesis would be some variation of “ We need to maintain capital punishment in the United States because…” Please see the Paradigm web site for suggestions on structure. Each essay should contain an introduction, statement of the case, proposition statement (thesis), refutation, confirmation, and conclusion. Note that some of these components may be combined, but others, especially the refutation and confirmation, may take multiple paragraphs. So, I would suggest a total length between 5-10 detailed, developed paragraphs.

Collaboration and color coding

This unit is a mixture of individual and group work. Ultimately, as in any group endeavor, your success will depend upon your teammates to a certain extent. Historically, teams who have not worked well together have not won many debates, and indeed, working together successfully is one goal of this project. At the same time, I also realize that sometimes, despite our best efforts, groups do not work out. I do not want anyone to be unfairly penalized by a group member who drops the ball; nor do I want anyone to get a "free ride" thanks to a superstar group member. Therefore, while you will win or lose the debate as a team, you will be graded individually on the essay and on your speeches. To make it clear on the essay which group member writes which part, I ask that you simply color code the respective sections. For example, if Claire and Clai are working together, perhaps Claire's section would be in blue and Clai's in red. For parts of the essay that you truly write together, choose a third color.


In both the essay and debate, any statements presented as facts, and any direct quotations from authorities, survey results, or statistics must be documented, or they will not be counted. This means that from the moment you begin your research, please DOCUMENT EVERY SOURCE!! Consult the Bedford Handbook for guidelines on documenting sources, especially those of the electronic variety.

On-line resource

As was noted on the first handout, the Paradigm Online Writing Assistant is a great place for help. We will be viewing parts of the site in class, but click here to go right to the section on argumentative essays. Almost all of the guidelines and suggestions that I have summarized above can be found here in greater detail: http://www.powa.org

Greensboro Day School English Department

Argument Essay Rubric: Grades 9-12

Name: _____________________ Assignment: ___________

Evaluating Criteria


Quality of Thought

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

  • Quality of argumentative proposition

  • Depth, complexity and development of ideas

  • Use of appeals to logic, reason, and emotion where appropriate

The best features of this paper are:

Organization and Continuity

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

  • Global

    • Unity – Focus on argumentative proposition

  • Paragraph


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

  • Specific details and quotations

  • Facts and statistics

  • Explanation of examples

Word Choice

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

  • Vocabulary

  • Diction

  • Usage

The aspects of your writing that need the most improvement are:

Grammar and Syntax

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

  • Complete and grammatically correct sentences

  • Sentences varied in structure and complexity


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

  • Punctuation

  • Spelling

  • Documentation of sources (in-text citations and works cited list)

Format and Process

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  • Color coding or indication of section(s) completed

  • Title

  • Final Essay submitted to turnitin.com

Specific instructions:

Paper Grade:

Adjusted, if late, to:

Final grade:

Sample Essay 1
Affirmative Funding of Space Exploration

Gracie Tewkesbury and Kelly Carty


On February 1, 2003, scientists eagerly awaited the return of the seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. They were about to come home from a 16-day research mission in orbit 300 kilometers above earth. Just 16 minutes before the scheduled landing, NASA lost radio contact with the shuttle. Smoke and debris were seen in the skies of Dallas, where the shuttle was slated to land. Upon re-entry into the atmosphere, Columbia broke into flames and essentially disintegrated. None of the seven crew members survived.

Sadly, this was not the first time a space flight came to a fatal ending. In 1967, a fire started inside the cockpit of the Apollo 1. Although the crew members tried desperately to escape, all three were dead seventeen seconds after the fire had been noticed. A similar accident occurred in 1986, when an unexpected fire caused the Challenger shuttle to swerve off course and rip apart. The seven crew members died instantly, just minutes after the shuttle took off.

How could these horrible tragedies have been prevented? All three resulted from technological errors that probably could have been prevented. After each incident, NASA has suggested several methods of improving the safety of the space shuttle. But the fact that these types of disasters still occur on a rather regular, albeit seldom, basis indicates that additional safety isn’t enough. In order to prevent disaster, our country needs to regulate space travel so that only the most important and necessary missions are put into action. We propose that this be done with a significant budget cut for NASA.

Statement of Case

            In 1958, President Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to aid our country in the “space race” against the Soviet Union. Over the next decade, NASA developed the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects, the latter sending man to the moon for the first time on July 20, 1969. Since setting foot on the moon, NASA has continued to expand knowledge about space through the space shuttle, the International Space Station, the Mars Exploration Rovers, and the Terra and Aqua satellites. The four divisions of NASA are Aeronautics, Exploration Systems, Science, and Space Operations.

In 2004, President George W. Bush announced his Vision for Space Exploration. He plans to return the space shuttle to flight and retire it by 2010, complete the International Space Station, begin robotic missions to the moon by 2008, return people there by 2020, and develop a Crew Exploration Vehicle to send people beyond low earth orbit (Bush). Once his vision is complete, we can consider more lofty goals, like eventually setting foot on Mars.

Currently, the 2007 fiscal budget proposed for NASA is $16.8 billion, a 3.2 percent increase from the 2006 budget. President Bush has asked for an additional one billion dollars over the next five years to help accomplish his goals. Of the budget, $724 million goes towards aeronautics research, $5.3 billion towards NASA’s science missions, and $500 million towards cross-agency support programs which deal with education, commercial leverage, and the management of finances.

Some people fully support the NASA’s big plans for the future.

They believe that further space exploration would lead to exciting discoveries that will inspire young children and adults alike. Every new finding of NASA leads to a sense of pride and patriotism for our country’s dedicated space program. The technology developed through NASA exploration “will pay back incalculable dividends to everyone on Earth during the coming decades” (Eicher). According to these people, NASA’s budget, though high, is well worth it because of all of the benefits for humans.

Those who oppose NASA’s plans consider them to be a colossal waste of time and money. As one writer puts it, “What is the value of admittedly mind-blowing photographs of distant nebulae and galaxy clusters when weighed against the literally astronomical sums of money spent on maintaining a leaky space station, an antiquated and unreliable shuttle fleet, and a never-ending stream of hit-or-miss probes?” (Bonta). Those against publicly-funded space exploration believe that NASA’s yearly budget is robbing government money from more important aspects of life, like housing, healthcare, and transportation. In a world plagued with war, disease, poverty, and famine, any money our government spends on NASA could be better spent dealing with issues on our own planet.


The United States government is currently allocating too much money to NASA for space exploration. Space Exploration is an extremely risky business. Astronauts in space have to face a loss of bone mass, unhealthy amounts of radiation, and challenging psychological problems (Schneider). NASA also hasn’t addressed important problems such as what to do if someone is seriously ill on a space voyage. The $16.8 billion budget could be used for many other things such as helping with the devastation wrecked by Hurricane Katrina and housing and health care programs. The government shouldn’t be wasting its time dealing with NASA’s budget when there are other more prevalent factors looming over the United States like the war in Iraq and the environment. The United States government shouldn’t be allocating so much money to NASA when the future is unclear and there are other, more overriding problems here on earth.

There are many medical reasons for not exploring space. Astronauts face the loss of bone mass, radiation problems, and psychological problems on long term space flights (Schneider). Astronauts experience bone loss because of bone resorption and decreased intestinal calcium absorption caused by the lack of gravity in space (Smith). According to an experiment conducted aboard the Mir Space Station, astronauts lose 1 to 2 percent of bone density per month which triggers a rise of calcium in the blood and can cause kidney stones (Hullander). Radiation is also another effect of space travel and probably the most damaging. Radiation is the process of particles from space entering the DNA of human cells and not allowing them to perform their typical functions. Normally, the earth’s magnetic field protects us from high energy sun particles and cosmetic rays from unknown galactic sources. Out in space, an astronaut is unsheltered from radiation. NASA stated that the particles from solar flares could kill an unprotected astronaut. Even airplanes reroute paths to avoid the radiation from a solar flare (Britt). Radiation can cause severe sort-term illness while cosmic rays can cause more long-term illnesses like cancer and cataracts. NASA currently allows no more radiation than what could raise the risk of cancer by 3 percent, and a 2 ½ year trip to Mars would expose astronauts to the limit of radiation (Britt).

The psychological factors of a lengthy space expedition are also problematic. According to Taber MacCallum, the president of Paragon Space Development Corporation, astronauts face an extreme amount of stress and must stay in confined living quarters with complete dependence on technologies. They live a very structured life with a demanding schedule and a perceived lack of control (MacCallum). The astronauts go through extensive training, but still, as MacCallum put it, feel the “paradox of ‘too much and too little’ distance from people.” The overwhelming challenges of bone loss, radiation, and psychological problems are only magnified when the trips in space become longer.

Since space exploration is extremely risky, it brings about many challenging decisions. As posed by Mike Schneider in his article On Trip to Mars, NASA Must Rethink Death “how do you get rid of the body of a dead astronaut on a three-year mission to Mars and back?” In the history of NASA, there have been three major tragedies resulting in the death of seventeen people. The tragedies (Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia) all occurred because of technical glitches. According to Schneider, NASA doesn’t have a procedure dealing with disposing of the dead in space or cutting medical aid if an astronaut cannot survive. Not addressing these problems may result in bad decisions and wasting more lives. If an astronaut is on the ISS or the Mir Space Station and becomes sick, he or she can return to Earth and check into a hospital within hours, but if traveling to Mars or another far-off place there is no way the astronaut would be able to land on earth in time for treatment. The astronauts also couldn’t depend on Mission Control to make split-second decisions because it would take a minimum of 30 minutes for a question to travel to earth and an answer to arrive at the spacecraft. With all these important decisions NASA needs to make about human life aboard a spacecraft, it seems that NASA isn’t ready for human space exploration. (Schneider)

Lowering NASA’s federal budget would definitely help with the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The category-five storm destroyed the gulf coast of the United States on August 29th, 2005 and now, twenty months after the hurricane hit, people are still in the rebuilding process. Over 15 million people were affected by the Hurricane including 1,836 who died and 705 who are still reported as missing (Kurpis). Despite these devastating facts, President Bush proposed an extra $500 million in 2007 for NASA and only proposed an extra $18 million for Hurricane Katrina victims. This fact can hardly be ignored when one realizes that Hurricane Katrina caused an estimated 400,000 jobs to be lost and NASA only employs 18,343 people (Kurpis and United). Instead of using money from the NASA space program, President Bush cut the federal budget of the Department of Education by $3.1 billion primarily to counter the cost of Hurricane Katrina (Aspey). Would US citizens rather see their tax dollar support schools or seeing really cool pictures of outer space? Taxpayers would rather see the improvements of schools according to a 2006 survey. According to the survey, 51 percent of 18 to 25 year-olds view NASA as “irrelevant” and 72 percent of people from the same age group think that the “budget for NASA could be better spent elsewhere” (Berger). The gulf coast is currently in a financial crisis frantically looking for ways to rebuild and restore normalcy, while NASA supporters are selfishly complaining that the program doesn’t have enough money to chase a dream.

Lowering NASA’s budget would benefit housing and health care programs. In 2005, exploration system of NASA was granted about the same amount of money as homeless assistance in the United States. There are about 500,000 people in the United States without somewhere to go at night (Glenn). The number of people without a home is about 27 times the amount of people NASA employs making the fact that homeless assistance is granted about the same amount of money as NASA’s exploration systems seem outrageous. Some of NASA’s yearly budget could also be used to help the millions of people without health insurance by providing the United States Department of Health Care and Human Services with more money. Those living without health insurance are digging into a deeper and deeper hole year after year as the price of insurance rises. The president has just cut $45 billion from Medicaid, which is America’s best health and long-term care program. This cut would only add to the number of uninsured people (Background). Although NASA’s budget couldn’t cover the entire $45 billion, it could significantly help the health care crisis.

The time spent dealing with the NASA budget would be better spent focusing on the war in Iraq. A little over five and a half years ago, 9/11 occurred. The date is still fresh in many American minds, evoking memories of watching the twin towers and the Pentagon collapse on the news. Today, many citizens are frustrated with the seemingly useless war. The president has been the scapegoat for all the decisions gone wrong and is frantically trying to make the situation better. But, the farther the U.S. delves into the war, the worse off the situation becomes. It seems logical that to find a solution to the current problem, the government needs to address the war with the utmost attention without worrying about trivial things like an insignificant 3.2 percent increase for the NASA budget. The space exploration program isn’t like it was thirty years ago. The United States is not fighting the Soviets for the fame and respect of being the first country to accomplish something in space.

The government should also focus more on the environment. America is the number one global warming polluter of the world and our country would need to decrease that pollution by 80 percent to prevent the major effects of global warming. There have been no federal bills passed in the United States to limit America’s pollution (Global). Some of the downfalls of the fight to save the environment are that the United States Department of Energy has also failed to improve the energy efficiency of heating and cooling; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (i.e. EPA) still allows dry cleaners to use a harmful chemical PCE that can cause cancer and damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system; the EPA does not consider carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses as pollutants; the EPA doesn’t monitor the production of mercury as a byproduct of chlorine plants; and in 2003 the EPA failed to meet the standards of the Food Quality and Protection Act which has special steps to protect children (Earthjustice). As exemplified by these shortcomings, the United States government has much to do to protect the environment and keeping the earth habitable is more important than finding cool things in space.

Therefore, the budget of NASA is too high and needs to be lowered. The space exploration program is depriving other needy aspects of human life here on earth like housing and health care programs and the devastation cause by Hurricane Katrina. The government should be worrying about the War on Iraq and the environmental problems instead of increasing the budget of NASA by 3.2 percent. NASA also needs to solve the medical problems of spaceflight and address the ethical factors of humans traveling in space before a huge catastrophe occurs. So, in the broad view of the country, NASA is trivial and should not have a massive $16.8 billion budget.


Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting a budget cut for NASA, there are still those who oppose this decision. They claim that space exploration has led to the development and improvement of many important technologies that have helped here on Earth (Eicher). The simple response to this claim is that it just isn’t true. In conjunction with NASA, the Space Foundation has compiled a list of all of the technology that was first developed through space exploration. Contrary to what our opponents claim, this list did not include things like the Global Positioning System – developed by the U.S. Department of Defense – or the MRI scanner – developed by scientist Raymond Damadian. Instead, the list contained things like a weatherproof fishing tackle, a brand of engine lubricant, and a pen with a shelf-life of 100 years. NASA has stated that they can’t be sure what kinds of innovations will come out of further space exploration (NASA). But if the past is any indicant of the future, we don’t have much to look forward to. Surely inventions like these do not warrant the many decades and billions of dollars our country has spent on space exploration.

President George W. Bush is one of those who oppose our proposition. In fact, he is currently behind a plan to further explore our solar system with an International Space Station, lunar probes, and eventually manned flights to Mars. To validate his goals, he compares them to those of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark when they explored the Louisiana Purchase in 1804: “They made that journey in the spirit of discovery… America has ventured forth into space for the same reasons.” (Bush). According to Bush, it is human nature to want to explore the unknown. For some people, however, this is not the case at all. According to a 2006 survey, 35% of Americans oppose Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration (Dittmar). Government-funded services are meant to be beneficial to everyone, whether consciously or not. The benefits of healthcare and national defense, for example, can be seen everywhere. If over a third of the population opposes space travel, there’s no reason they should be forced to pay so many tax dollars to indulge those who do.

Our opponents see the president’s support of an expanded space program to be a major reason the budget should not be reduced. However, Bush’s presidential term is ending soon – far before his vision for space exploration is completed. Furthermore, not all of the 2008 candidates are in agreement with his expensive plans, and could easily put a stop to them once in office. The chairman of the U.S. House science committee has stated that “NASA is headed for a train wreck” if they don’t get the funds they need (Gordon, qtd. in Bond). This means that if we don’t continue supplying NASA with money for as long as they need it, all of their efforts could collapse. The money that our country has already supplied to NASA could be for nothing. Once President Bush finishes serving his term, there’s no telling how much support NASA will get. But if the government reduces NASA’s budget now, our new potential president would be much more inclined to continue supporting the organization.

Many people believe a budget cut for NASA would cause today’s youth to stop caring about space and perhaps decide against a career based in astronomical sciences. However, the truth is that young people these days are already uninterested in NASA. Fifty-one percent of 18-25 year-olds regard NASA as “irrelevant,” and 72% believe “the money spent on NASA would be better spent elsewhere” (Berger). In an attempt to regain their interest, NASA has proposed everything from an MTV reality show to celebrity endorsement. If the organization is resorting to such extreme measures, it’s evident that young people are already simply uninterested in its endeavors. Even Bush’s big plans for future space exploration aren’t going to change this.

NASA’s yearly budget comprises less than one percent of our government’s national budget. This seems like a tiny amount until expressed in numerical terms: 16.8 billion dollars. Just because our country has literally trillions of dollars to spend doesn’t give us the right to squander billions on an industry that, evidently, doesn’t benefit our society or interest our people. There are many ways 16.8 billion dollars could be spent to benefit humankind. Just 15 billion would provide the entire population of the world with adequate water and sanitation. Thirteen billion is enough to meet the basic dietary needs of starving people (Borgen). NASA’s budget, if spent otherwise, has the power to save the world.


The portion of the federal budget allocated to NASA should be significantly reduced. The current state of affairs is wasteful and dangerous. NASA hasn’t traveled to the moon or in 35 years and makes false claims to new technology. NASA did not invent the MRI or GPS; the company invented a weatherproof fishing tackle, a brand of engine lubricant, and a pen with a shelf-life of 100 years. Astronauts face the grave dangers of radiation, bone loss, and psychological problems in space.

Also, citizens of the United States don’t want NASA the way President Bush does. Fifty-one percent of 18 to 25 year olds see NASA as “irrelevant.” Seventy-two percent think that the money spent on NASA could be better spent elsewhere. The budget for NASA could be used to help aid Hurricane Katrina victims and housing and healthcare programs. The time spent on NASA could be better used to help the war effort in Iraq or the effort to save the planet.

Cutting NASA’s budget will not make the student interest in space decline; many students already don’t care. NASA’s budget has so much potential: it could provide the entire world with water and sanitation or it could feed starving people. Next time a dazzling picture of a galaxy in space is featured in the news next to a picture of Hurricane Katrina victims living in a FEMA trailer or a picture of the rapidly dying Earth, think about the priorities of the government and the $16.8 billion allocated to NASA for exploring space in 2007.

Works Cited

Aspey, Susan., Colby, Chad., Smith, Valerie. “Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Requests Advances NCLB Implementation and Pinpoints Competitiveness.” ED.gov. 6 Feb. 2006 U.S. Department of Education. 11 May 2007 .

“Background on Health Care.” Action.org. Results. 13 May 2007 .
Berger, Eric. “Today’s kids: NASA is Irrelevant.” Online Posting. 29 Dec. 2006. Houston Chronicle. 11 May 2007 .
Bond, David. “Funding Famine.” Aviation Week & Space Technology 19 March 2007. 12 May 2007
Bonta, Steve. “Space Exploration Should Be Funded by the Private Sector.” The New American 9 Feb 2004. GaleNet Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Greensboro Day School Library, Greensboro, NC. 3 May 2007 .
Borgen, Clint. “The Borgen Project.”
Britt, Robert Roy. “Surviving Space: Risks to Humans on the Moon and Mars.” Space.com. 20 Jan. 2004. National Space Society. 15 May 2007 .
Bush, George W.. "The United States Must Make Space Exploration A Priority." NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. 14 Jan 2004. 5 May 2006
Dittmar, Mary Lynne. “Market Study for Space Exploration.” Survey. Dittmar Associates November 2004. 15 May 2007 < http://www.dittmar-associates.com/The_Market_Study.htm>
Earthjustice. Earthjustice: Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer. 2007. 13 May 2007 .
Eicher, David J. “Space Exploration Provides Many Benefits for Earth.” USA Today 22 Jan 2004. GaleNet Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Greensboro Day School Library, Greensboro, NC. 3 May 2007 .
Glenn, Mary., Phillips-Minnis, Avril., Robinson, Jennifer., Sanders, Angela. “Stop the Criminalization of Homelessness.” April 2002. University of Georgia. 13 May 2007 .
“Global Warming by the Numbers.” Environmental Defense. 16 Jan. 2007. 13 May 2007 .
Hullander, Doug., Barry, Patrick L. “Space Bones.” Science.NASA.gov. 1 October 2001. 15 May 2007 .
Kurpis, Bryan. “FAQs.” HurricaneKatrinaRelief.com. 10 May 2007 .
MacCallum, Taber. “ASEN 5016 Lecture 22: Psychological Aspects of Spaceflight (and related ground-based analogs).” Colorado.edu. March 2003. University of Colorado. 15 May 2007 .
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. “Space Exploration Will Play An Important Role In America’s Future.” The Vision For Space Exploration Feb 2004. GaleNet Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center. Greensboro Day School Library, Greensboro, NC. 3 May 2007 .
Schneider, Mike “On Trip to Mars, NASA Must Rethink Death.” Washingtonpost.com. 1 May 2007. 15 May 2007 .
Smith, Scott. “Bone Markers, Calcium Metabolism, and Calcium Kinetics During Extended-Duration Space Flight on the Mir Space Station.” Pubmed. 20 Feb 2005. Nation Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. 15 May 2007 .
United States House of Representatives. U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics. Building and Maintaining a Healthy and Strong NASA Workforce. 17 May 2007. 20 May 2007 < democrats.science.house.gov/Media/File/Commdocs/hearings/2007/space/17may/hearing_charter.pdf>.




The well-known idiom, “There is more than meets the eye,” is a perfect description of NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. When most people think of this agency, one known for shooting our nation to number one in space exploration leadership, a slideshow of brilliantly-colored galaxies, exploding nebulae, and men setting foot on the moon is probably the first thing to appear in their minds. However, the thing that defines NASA as a necessity to our government is the accomplishments that are less commonly known to the general population such as commercialized technology, environmental benefits, and priceless research into the future of our civilization. As opponents of this crucial agency fight to have the budget cut, we as the negative strongly believe that there is no group more worthy of the $17.3 billion budget allotted to NASA. In fact, the budget is not as outrageous as some people think, considering that for every dollar spent within the NASA budget, ten cents from this dollar filter back into the United States economy as a product from commercialized technology. NASA is the pursuer of our nation’s future, looking into the options of saving our environment by utilizing the resources in the solar system’s asteroid belt. Robert Heinlein, the popular science fiction writer once said in a speech, "The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in." (Heinlein qtd. by Engdahl.) As the country battles an $8.8 billion budget deficit, it is easy to try and find extra money wherever possible; however, we as the negative side are confident that NASA is not the place to look. Seeing that our world is rapidly deteriorating into a state of war, destruction, and global warming, our best option is to look into space. At Rutgers University, Isaac Asimov, another prolific writer, asked the audience: “There are so many benefits to be derived from space exploration and exploitation; why not take what seems to me the only chance of escaping what is otherwise the sure destruction of all that humanity has struggled to achieve for 50,000 years?" We as the negative are asking the same question, and without an opposing argument, accept as true that NASA is a worthwhile agency deserving of its support.
Statement of the Case

In 1958, President Dwight D Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA. Their mission was to explore the unknown: outer space. It was NASA who put the first man on the moon, and it was NASA who first launched the space shuttle in 1981 as the way to readily access space. Recently, two probes have been sent to Mars to explore the red planet, and it has constructed the International Space Station along with other countries. For over forty-five years, NASA has made major advances in the science of space exploration.

The question at hand is whether the NASA federal budget is justified. The requested budget for 2007 was approximately 16.8 billion dollars, which represents only .7 percent of the federal budget. Over the past five decades, Americans have been very involved in the study of outer space, a vast place yet to be completely discovered. From the countless probes and cameras sent into space, not only have we learned what our neighboring planets, solar systems, and galaxies look like, but important scientific discoveries have been uncovered that have then been applied back to life on Earth. Some environmentalists and experts have suggested that while society continues to destroy the Earth’s resources, space contains abundant amounts of these same resources that could help our current global state. On top of the environmental benefits, there have also been over 1,500 spin-off technologies that have been put into daily use here on earth, such as the pacemaker, the TV satellite dish, and firefighter equipment.

On the contrary, space exploration is notoriously dangerous and has launched several unsuccessful and fatal missions; missions such as these are considered a waste of money and a tragedy for the loss of human lives. This presents the real question: are the benefits of space exploration worth the cost?


Space exploration is an important and crucial part of our country’s growth and future. There are numerous reasons why cutting the federal budget dedicated to NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, would be a colossal mistake for the future of our country.

While initially built to help send shuttles or probes soaring towards the stars, the advanced technology produced for NASA has been effectively brought into everyday life, helping millions of people in more ways than one. From insulating gloves to computer joysticks to infrared cameras, spinoffs, commercialized NASA technology, have expanded beyond the world of space shuttles and found their way in helping mankind. One of the most important spinoffs stemming from the Apollo missions is the insulating Space blanket “thin, shiny reflective material used to insulate everything from the Hubble Space Telescope to hikers, from the Mars rovers to marathon runners, from computers to campers, from satellites to sun shields, and from rockets to residences.” (United States: Reflecting) This covering is used to regulate the body temperature of marathon runners, hospital patients, and emergency victims. Following the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, over 150,000 blankets were donated to help the earthquake survivors continue to live. Originally used for direct communication between earth stations and orbiting satellites, another vital spinoff of space technology is the pacemaker, an electric monitoring device used to check heart rhythm. As has been constantly proved and reproved, the advancements of space exploration expand beyond that of space shuttle launches and lab work into the realm of medical hospitals, video games, and Third World countries.

A proposed budget cut is in a sense closing the nation’s eyes to the environmental destruction caused by global warming and accepting the horrendous fate of our deteriorating situation. “In a CBS News/New York Times poll, 52 percent said that global warming should be a high priority for government leaders.” (Americans…global warming) The leading cause of global warming is greenhouse gases, which are caused by the burning of fossil fuel. However, according to Jeff Brooks, a writer, “If we could successfully exploit the resources of the Asteroid Belt, we would never again have to carve huge scars into our planet’s surface in our quest for resources.” (Brooks) Asteroids, which mostly are composed of nickel, iron, and magnesium, exist mostly in the Asteroid Belt between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars; however, there are some asteroids that stray and end up much closer to Earth. “One NASA report estimates that the mineral wealth of the asteroids in the asteroid belt might exceed $100 billion for each of the six billion people on Earth.” (Bonsor) With the correct technology and transportation for the asteroid materials, the Earth’s atmosphere could be vastly saved all thanks to the continuing exploration of this resource. The hidden value of the asteroid belt is something that goes unnoticed to most of the nation’s citizens, and with the help of a budget cut, would most likely never be known.

The 2008 $17.3 billion dollar proposed budget for NASA is the minimum amount of money that will allow NASA to progress as the space leader of the world. Opponents of the space program in favor of a budget cut are obviously missing the big picture on how much money it takes to insure our future in space. The Coalition for Space Exploration, a space advocacy group comprised of companies, nonprofits, and unions, found that the NASA budget divided by the number of taxpayers in the United States resulted in each payer contributing only $55 dollars a year, or $.15 a day. According to NASA data, for every dollar spent in the NASA budget, $3.57 are spent on tobacco and $2.99 are spent on jewelry and watches. In fact, while skeptics argue that NASA is a waste of time and priority, true believers and experts, such as the members of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA,) have found the better argument and are asking instead for a raise of the NASA budget. In a letter written to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, this group asked for a $1.4 billion increase to the 2008 budget and stated, “Without this increase, our nation faces the very real risk of losing our uniquely critical industrial base and human space access capability.” (AIAA.) Denying this increase, which would continue to support the Orion spacecraft and Ares 1 booster, both being built to replace the space shuttle after 2010, would most definitely leave a gap in our country’s space leadership and injure our discovery piloting status. At this point, the real debate is not whether the NASA budget should be cut, as it is clear that such a cut would disable our country’s standing; instead, the debate and clear answer should be whether and how to get the undervalued NASA appreciated with a rise in budget.

The space exploration budget has been questioned for years, ever since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, was established in 1958 by President Eisenhower. Space travel is extraordinarily expensive, and the opposing parties believe that the government’s money would be better used on healthcare and other earthly problems, rather than a dangerous scientific study. If you put this in perspective however, you will find, “Here are $976.3 billion dollars – almost a trillion - spent every year in the US on pets, toys, gambling, alcohol and tobacco. It is 63 times the amount spent on space exploration – with the difference that NASA has not destroyed lives as alcohol, tobacco and gambling did. It is not the exploration spirit that Americans need to give up….It is the consumerist spirit.” (Pop) Cutting the NASA budget could be disastrous for not only the United States but the world; it would be "bad for space science, worse for earth science.” (Boehlert qtd. in Overbye)

One of the biggest arguments against NASA’s large budget is that the money should be used to fund restoration efforts in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. Those against space exploration agree with this argument, saying that national disasters take precedence over studies about the future. While it is understood that the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina desperately needs government funding, NASA enthusiasts believe that the NASA budget should not be sacrificed. The government allocates a budget to specifically take care of natural disasters, and it should be the government’s responsibility to effectively distribute and use this budget. This was not the case when Katrina hit; immediate disaster care was poorly executed due to lack of planning on the government’s part, and the result was a disaster zone that unbelievably still exists today. “The experts, including a former Bush administration disaster response manager, told Knight Ridder that the government wasn't prepared, scrimped on storm spending and shifted its attention from dealing with natural disasters to fighting the global war on terrorism.” (Borenstein) NASA’s exploration of space is a study that has changed the world as we know it, and its budget should not be reduced due to the government’s inability to maintain a successful disaster program; “Budget cuts haven't made disaster preparedness any easier.” (Borenstein) What leads critics to believe that the money cut from the NASA budget will go directly into Katrina’s budget? Who are they to say that it won’t go into the war budget, with the new increase Bush has requested?

Interesting pictures are the only thing that has come from NASA’s expensive studies, skeptics say. However, this is factually untrue. “The exploration of outer space has already revolutionized life on our planet in many ways. Observations from outer space have enhanced our understanding of our common environment, for example, by providing images of the ozone layer and world climate conditions. Space technology has led to advances in fields ranging from the monitoring of natural disasters to the development of navigational systems. These examples of the benefits of space technology -- some immediately apparent, some much less so -- provide a powerful justification for the peaceful exploration of outer space.” (Annan) Space exploration has brought about many scientific and medical discoveries. These include a miniaturized ventricular-assist pump that has been successfully used in heart surgeries, blanket insulation kits based on the NASA Space Shuttle Thermal Protection system materials, the TV satellite dish, medical imaging, firefighter equipment, smoke detectors, thermal gloves and boots, failsafe flashlights, and numerous toys. In addition, the study of outer space has brought up new ways in which to save our dying planet. Scientists have discovered that by traveling to the asteroid belt, taking one small portion of it, and bringing it back to earth, we could be supplied with enough energy materials to last us for millions of years, eliminating the use of fossil fuels and saving our planet from self destruction.

The opposing party believes that space exploration is extremely dangerous, and on some level, that is true. “The exploration of space is fraught with peril. Since we first started putting humans into space, there have been accidents, and people have died.” (Greene) However, if the hazards of space travel are compared to those of the war in Iraq, the comparison is hardly close at all. The war in Iraq, considered by some to be an unnecessary war, has been the cause of 3,384 American casualties and has left 25,245 Americans wounded, and “these numbers do not include the estimated 16% of the soldiers who will develop serious depression, anxiety, and PTSD disorders after returning from Iraq and the potential violence that accompany their return.” (Marsella) In contrast, NASA has only lost eighteen people during in-flight accidents (4% of in-flight astronauts), eleven astronauts during training accidents, and seventy ground employees. That’s a total of ninety-nine people throughout the entire history of NASA, a far cry from Iraq’s 3,384 in the past . Not only is the war in Iraq undoubtedly more fatal than the space program, but it is also more expensive. “The United States cannot sustain a war that is costing over 200 billion dollars a year in an economy that is faced with downsizing, exportation of jobs to foreign countries, tax cuts, and excessive domestic costs for medical care, housing, social services, and education. Already we have seen dramatic increases in the price of gasoline that has hurt the airline and transportation industry.  Ultimately, citizens will be forced to pay for the war in new taxes and budget cuts in the very services they need.” (Marsella) United States citizens pay fifteen cents a day, or fifty-five dollars a year, on space exploration. Is that too much to ask when it comes to the future of our country, of our earth? As William E. Burrows stated in a Wall Street Journal article in 2003, “The question to ask is whether the risk of traveling to space is worth the benefit. The answer is an unequivocal yes, but not only for the reasons that are usually touted by the space community: the need to explore, the scientific return, and the possibility of commercial profit. The most compelling reason, a very long-term one, is the necessity of using space to protect Earth and guarantee the survival of humanity.”


Should NASA’s budget be cut? For NASA enthusiasts, the answer is an indisputable no. Over the past fifty years, NASA has brought space to life; men have walked on other planets, and natural resources that could potentially save our planet have been discovered. Thousands of toys, protective equipments, and medical technologies have been created through NASA’s innovative work in space. These milestones in science not only prove that NASA is discovering new and exciting things in the unknown, but they are also changing life here on earth.

The affirmative side believes that space exploration is far too dangerous to be using a portion of the government’s budget. However, NASA’s budget is $16.8 billion, a mere 0.7 percent of our nation’s budget. Compare this to the war in Iraq, which takes twenty-one percent of the government budget and is much more treacherous. NASA has lost a total of one hundred people, and this number is limited to in-flight astronauts, ground crew, and training astronauts. In addition, the eighteen astronauts that have died in space flight make up only four percent of all in-flight astronauts. The war in Iraq, on the other hand, has resulted in over 3,385 casualties and 25,378 soldiers have been seriously wounded. “And to the war statistics of American soldiers must be added those of Iraqi insurgent and civilians that now exceed 30,000 dead and 100,000 wounded.  Reports also indicate that starvation, disease, famine, malnutrition, and trauma are exacting a harsh toll on Iraqi children that may be irreversible creating yet another generation of pain and suffering and future revenge seekers.” (Marsella) Although space exploration has been the reason for several lost lives, it has indubitably brought about more good than bad.

When most people think of space exploration, they picture nebulas, galaxies, and mind-boggling pictures of massive space bodies that they can’t even begin to fathom. What these people often don’t think of, however, are the most amazing. Braces, the television satellite dish, miniaturized ventricular-assist pumps, medical imaging, and pacemakers are just a few of the discoveries achieved through space exploration. American taxpayers spend fifty-five dollars a year on space exploration, or fifteen cents a day, a small price to pay for the benefits they receive. If a citizen’s house caught fire, the firemen rushing to save his or her life would be wearing a protective suit made of a material developed through space exploration, and the smoke detector that had alerted them would have been credited to NASA. More astonishing than the pictures of outer space are the amazing benefits that have come from its exploration.

Is space exploration dangerous? Undoubtedly yes. Is it risky and expensive? The answer is also yes. Is it worth it? NASA enthusiasts all know that the answer is a resounding yes. The possibilities of space exploration are endless, and if we lower NASA’s budget, they will be significantly limited. How can we as a country expect to maintain a position of leadership in the world if we do not effectively support our leadership in technology? The resources found in space could potentially save our planet; is the future of our earth not worth the cost of space exploration? As Larry Niven said, “"The dinosaurs became extinct because they didn't have a space program. And if we become extinct because we don't have a space program, it'll serve us right!"”

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