in reply to Re^5: The most important near-term goal of a space program:
in thread The most important near-term goal of a space program:

The use of vacuum tubes for computational purposes was driven by the need to crack the Enigma code in WWII.

Velcro, and a number of other 'space aged' materials were driven by manned space-flight.

The question really comes down to - which is a more noble challenge to overcome? Overcoming a hostile environment or figuring out ways to kill each other.

Either is a goal that requires constant innovation.

No one who favors a space program of any kind doesn't want to solve social problems. But it's imperative that we do both at the same time. One well placed rock can change the biosphere enough that we all check out. Sadly it seems like it takes a threat that large to get everyone to pull together. Unfortunately, contrary to films like Deep Impact, etc. we would be lucky to have more than 3 days notice of one on the way.

Further, all the countries out there that have no space program aren't necessarily doing better on social issues than the ones that have them. There's no direct correlation that shows that the resources 'wasted' on space wouldn't have found another way to be wasted. Indeed, space-based industry requires education & employment. They're hardly mutually exclusive.

Wait! This isn't a Parachute, this is a Backpack!