Space exploration should not be privatized

Author: sarahwornow7 | Last modified: Jan. 19, 2018, 11:49 p.m.


PRO (4 arguments)

1. Claim: Private space organizations are businesses, and are therefore much more profit oriented than government organizations. They will travel in space for the good of their companies, not the people.
Warrant:

Right now, Satellites in space can do hundreds of jobs we cannot do from Earth. They transmit TV and phone signals, control satellite navigation systems, and study oceans, pollution, the atmosphere, and a lot of other things we cannot see on Earth. These satellites have helped us with everything from pollution to studying ice sheets. They can even predict the weather. This is because government funded organizations care about making these advancements and helping the people. However, if space exploration were to become completely privatized, these private organizations would be much more focused on making profits.  Businesses exist to make profits, and so private organizations would not send satellites into space for the good of the people. Clearly, NASA, a government funded organization, has done a lot of things for the good of the people. The list off NASA spin-off inventions, inventions created because of NASA tools and replacements for normal products, goes on and on. The list includes everything from satellite TV to dustbusters to lighter breathing apparatus for firefighters. NASA also helps study pollution, oceans, and more to make the world a better place. So much technology is here because of things NASA did in space. When we compare this to private companies, we can see a difference. SpaceX, a private company, had a revenue of about 1 billion in 2014. SpaceX, like other businesses, will continue to make a profit in order to continue functioning. When a business ceases to make revenue, they are forced to close down. If we are given a choice between government organizations like NASA that are helping people, and private, profit focused organizations, we should clearly choose government organizations.

Impact:

If it weren’t for government funded organizations, space travel would not be nearly as beneficial to the overall people. NASA, a government funded space program, has been greatly beneficial to the US and privatizing space exploration would stop this. Clearly, NASA and government funded space organizations are better for the government, the economy, and technology so we should not privatize space exploration and turn space into a business.

Sources:

NASA, Independent News, The Motley Fool

2. Claim: Having a privatized space system is less safe.
Warrant:

Since privatized companies do not hold any responsibility to the government, they may not be held accountable for any mishaps. For instance, while the Challenger and Columbia disasters affected NASA’s operations (including an over two year hiatus from launching shuttles), it did not halt the space program. By comparison, private companies actually have a far more difficult set of issues to face in the case of a mishap. In a worst case scenario, a private company could make an easy scapegoat if ever a government’s legitimacy were to be threatened due to a mishap. Private companies have yet to amass significant casualties, with the only death occurring during a failed Virgin Galactic test flight in 2014. But because that flight was not part of a mission to the International Space Station and was not tied to any government contract, the implications were different. If an astronaut from NASA were killed in a launch orchestrated by a private company, there may be far-reaching effects both for NASA and for the company in question.

Impact:

The impact of having an unsafe way of space travel is that more people are unsafe in space and will die, while private companies suffer more financial losses and fatalities that ruin them and their reputations. Although it is important to keep the space program going, NASA only uses 3.6 billion out of its 18.4 billion dollar budget, and taxpayers money that goes to space travel is 0.5% which means in the future it does have the capability to create better rockets.

Sources:

Geneva Center for Security Policy, Forbes

3. Claim: NASA and other government organizations have higher success rates and more experience in space, therefore they are better at exploring space.
Warrant:

NASA was founded in 1958, long before any private companies. To give some examples, SpaceX was founded in 2002, and Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004. NASA has almost 50 years of experience these companies have not had, which is very important when it comes to space exploration. That is 44 years of launching spacecrafts, both successful and unsuccessful, making mistakes, and making discoveries. This experience means that NASA is better at launching rockets, dealing with mistakes, and building innovative rockets and     supplies. If we were to privatize space exploration, we would lose NASA and the experience they have, and, to a certain extent, have to start over in space.  

NASA has launched over 200 crewed missions, and many more without humans aboard. Most of these missions have been successful, as NASA currently has a 98 percent successful launch rate. To compare, SpaceX has only had 31 Falcon 9 launches, none of which were crewed, with a 94% success rate. Clearly, NASA has done better in space because they have the experience, skill, and success that private companies do not have.

Impact:

Right now, NASA is by far better at exploring space than any private company. There is no need to privatize spacer exploration completely, because that would get rid of NASA, a leading organization in space exploration.

Sources:

NASA, popular mechanics

4. Claim: Space X is run by a businessman who could have trouble with Space X if investors pull out.
Warrant:

With Nasa getting constant funding because of taxes they are able to work constantly without budget constraints depending on how much they get from taxes. But SpaceX and other private space programs are funded by investors which could drop out at any time and stop the funding of these programs. This could be extremely detrimental to these companies making it so they will have to cut corners the make cheaper rockets which could be dangerous. As of 2015 SpaceX has an evaluation of 12 billion dollars while Nasa has an budget of 19.4 billion dollars. Judge, This is a catastrophic difference between funding and I would like to remind you that SpaceX could lose almost all its funding from investors tomorrow or the next day. Now you may be wondering why having small funding is bad well many SpaceX ships have crashed in the past so smaller funding will make it even easier to crash and have other issues. Less funding means less workers less material and less safe. Also SpaceX doesn’t even have as much funding than NASA making NASA better because they can spend more money to get better workers and materials.

Impact:

In the end Space X does not have a lot of funding compared to NASA. Also the funders for SpaceX can pull out at any time taking all the money away from SpaceX making it unreliable and making the space ships more dangerous because of cut funding to workers and quality materials.



CON (3 arguments)

1. Claim: Private companies are more efficient in cost and time.
Warrant:

Private companies such as SpaceX have made more progress in the last decade than NASA has since the Moon Landing in 1962. SpaceX has sent rockets to space and brought them back to reuse them again, making a more efficient and cheaper space exploration as they don’t need to pay for new rockets.  This, costs less and takes less time than NASA rockets. 

A 2011 study conducted by NASA itself, shows that the Falcon 9 rocket launched by SpaceX would have cost much more had it been developed within the confines and culture of NASA. NASA personnel visited SpaceX to learn more about the company's rockets and found that more hardware was either off-the-shelf or derived from the smaller Falcon 1 rocket which made the cost savings through commercialization incredibly dramatic. There was a giant disparity between the privatized model costing $443 million, and the NASA way of doing things costing $1.4 billion. So the smaller, nimbler SpaceX has the demonstrated ability to produce rockets more quickly and cheaply than NASA does. That is no great surprise—NASA is hardly a model of entrepreneurial efficiency.

Furthermore, SpaceX sends rockets to space more frequently than NASA and has strict enough safety procedures to not crash a ship once in space.

Impact:

We need space exploration to move faster. We can’t wait for things like global warming to grow into an even larger problem and we have no alternative planet for human life. If global warming continues we are going to need a new place to live. Judge, with privatized space exploration we can move faster to achieve this goal.

Sources:

NASA, SpaceX, The Guardian, New York Times

2. Claim: The US should not be spending money on NASA. Private companies taking over space exploration would allow us to use the money for other projects.
Warrant:

The US can't afford NASA, since we are in so much debt. The US has a lot of programs and necessities that they need to spend money on.  The Military, health care, education - these are more important to our society then NASA. The US is in a debt crisis and private companies are willing to pay for our space program, so we should let them.  It’s a win-win.  The American people get to save billions from our budget and space exploration continues to benefit mankind. The US is $20 trillion in debt.  NASA’s budget continues to be cut because of other costs. The truth is, NASA does not need to get its $18 billion each year. If NASA were to be stopped completely, it would be beneficial to taxpayers, and social programs that need government money. Even now, the United States government does not think that NASA is worth more than about 0.4% of the federal budget. In light of these recent cuts, world-renowned physicist Michio Kaku has said: “Back in 2004, President George W. Bush laid out an ambition plan. The space shuttle was to be phased out this year, and five years later the replacement for the space shuttle would be fully functional and operational. Then, by 2020, the plan was to establish a permanent human presence on the moon, and after that maybe even the planet Mars. But now, forget about it – everything is out the window without money!” Unless we have private funding, we will not be able to reach these goals. Privatised companies can offer things like stock to employees and business partners, making it easier to receive funding and to gain employees. Using an initial public offering they can raise money by issuing either debt or equity which gives the company money. The private sector can also raise money through space tourism that many people are looking forward to.  Also, SpaceX  wants to explore new territory in space, and have a manned mission to Mars. Meanwhile, NASA has had a hard time just trying to get the funding they need and the ships they send out are going to the International Space Station, making no new progress.

Impact:

Judge, how can NASA do anything good if the US is cutting its budgets every year? Space exploration needs to be privatized so that the burden of paying for space travel does not land on the government and taxpayers.

Sources:

northeastern.edu

3. Claim: By using privatized space exploration we could benefit the environment and save Earth from the looming fate of Global Warming.
Warrant:

Asteroid mining  could save our planet.  Resources would be harvested from asteroids, moons, and even small planets, rather than the ground below our feet. Private companies have already been approved by our government to try and mine asteroids for precious metals, water and fuels that we need here on earth.  Also, SpaceX reuses rockets unlike NASA which builds a new rocket each time it launches and this uses many toxic chemicals and gases that are released into the atmosphere. The technology used by private company rockets is better for the environment than the outdated technology and fuel used by NASA. 

By harvesting resources in space we could halt some of the most environmentally damaging practices, from burning fossil fuels to mining for metals. It might be our best chance to save natural environments here on Earth. Also, mining fuel from asteroids could make long-distance space travel both affordable and sustainable. The costs of space travel increase exponentially the farther you go.  This is one of the few remaining barriers to long-distance space travel. Asteroid mining avoids these exponential costs by sourcing resources like fuel, water, and oxygen—as well as raw materials for construction—directly from space.

Also - NASA doesn't reuse rockets the way SpaceX does. Why?  Because reusable rockets are only valuable if the frequency of launches is great enough to outweigh the cost of developing and utilizing the technology.  And NASA doesn’t launch frequently enough to make reusable rockets.  Thus, NASA has to build a rocket every time it wants to launch and this uses an incredible amount of toxic metals. Solid-fuel rockets are the biggest source of rocket pollutants that can harm the atmosphere. They can break down ozone, a form of oxygen that protects the earth from harmful solar radiation. The United States uses more solid rockets than any other nation, including the powerful boosters that propel the space shuttle and the giant, unmanned Titan 4 launcher. NASA itself estimates that each space shuttle flight deposits about 75 tons of chlorine into the ozone layer. In contrast, SpaceX rockets use liquid fuel.

Impact:

Deep Space Industries, a private company,  is building autonomous spacecraft that can extract materials from asteroids. It expects to launch its first experimental mission in 2017.  Planetary Resources – a company backed by Google’s Larry Page, is also developing technology that will allow it to begin exploring asteroids starting around the year 2020. What’s out there worth mining? Every element known to mankind, in virtually infinite amounts. The impact of allowing private companies to explore space for precious resources that we are running out of on Earth cannot be overstated.  In addition, the way SpaceX reuses its rockets is more friendly to the environment than the old NASA way of building new rockets for each launch. If we use private companies for space exploration, we will reduce global warming and save our planet, while accelerating our ability to colonize other planets.

Sources:

NASA; New York Times; Science website How We Get to Next; Forbes Magazine