The Big Question

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Regina: Good afternoon and welcome to BBC news’ Big Question with me, your host- Regina Steffenfield. Today we are lucky to be joined in the studio by Blossom Michaels, who is a former NASA scientist, and Michelle Stevens, a well-known journalist and space blogger. We will be discussing space exploration- a subject which seems to be appearing everywhere in recent years. As always, we will be looking into a big question and today’s big question is: is space exploration worth the cost. Let’s get straight into it. Blossom, can you explain why you consider it to be worth the cost?

Blossom: Well, Regina, I strongly believe it is worth the cost for many reasons, but the impact it can have on the fight against climate change is worth the cost alone!

Regina: Climate change is certainly an issue that affects many people but when we think about solving it, space exploration rarely comes into people’s minds. Can it really help?

Blossom: Absolutely, Regina. Scientific instruments onboard an internationally fleet of satellites are constantly measuring and analysing the Earth’s environment, providing scientists here on Earth with the key data they need to understand long-term changes in the Earth’s climate. Understanding is the first step towards finding a solution, isn’t it?

Regina: The sounds very sensible.

Blossom: With climate change being such a huge problem here on Earth, especially in the minds of our younger generation, if space travel can somehow help with this we have a responsibility to act. In my opinion, saving our planet is worth any amount of money.

Regina: But aren’t there other issues that need addressing too? Surely climate change isn’t the only benefit of space exploration. What about humans here on Earth?

Blossom: Of course it’s not the only benefit, Regina. And in terms of how it can affect our lives here, there have been many discoveries essential to human life that have occurred as a result of space travel and it would seem likely that there are many more discoveries still to be made.

Regina: For example?

Blossom: MRI scans, for instance, now an essential diagnostic tool but originally derived from the digital image processing developed by NASA to enhance pictures of the moon.

Regina: Hm… I see. Michelle, how would you respond to Blossom’s arguments. I know you are not in agreement.

Michelle: No, I’m not. I think space exploration is a waste of time and money to be honest. There are so many problems right here on Earth that are being ignored or not dealt with properly. If we continue to focus on space and the things that might be out there, the real issues will continue to be ignored. We don’t have the time and money for both so surely we need to invest on things like medicine and research into how to cure disease. Things that immediately affect us…

Blossom: But space exploration can help with this.

Michelle: Perhaps, but only at a cost.

Regina: What do you mean, Michelle?

Michelle: Well in 2018 alone there were 14 astronaut fatalities during spaceflight, not to mention those that have died as a result of training incidents such as the Apollo 1 launch pad fire. What I’m saying is that there are huge risks of going into space and yes, maybe space exploration can help life on Earth but there are other less dangerous and certainly less expensive ways of doing this that we need to think about.

Regina: What’s your opinion on NASA allowing tourists onto the ISS for what they have called ‘private astronaut holidays’?

Blossom: It’s a great idea, and one that fills me with excitement. The thought of space as a holiday destination was once a distant dream of many but the fact that it is now becoming closer and closer to reality just shows how far space travel has come. Think about the opportunities it will provide future generations. Travelling around the world is one thing but seeing our planet from space… well, that’s something else entirely.

Regina: Michelle?

Michelle: I couldn’t disagree more with Blossom. Safety aside, using the ISS as a holiday destination couldn’t be a worse idea. It will create divides in society that just aren’t acceptable.

Regina: What do you mean?

Michelle: It’s about money again, isn’t it? Space travel, space holidays… both require money. These so-called private astronaut experiences will only be available for the rich, who already have such a wealth of experiences that they can draw from. It is never going to be available to everyone, is it?

Regina: And on that note, it’s time to end the discussion. Both guests have given their sides of the argument and it’s clear to me that this is a debate that isn’t going to go away any time soon. As to whether or not space exploration is indeed worth the cost, I’ll let you make up your own minds. See you next time on the Big Question and for now, good night.

BNC Skills

Open-mindedness: We listened to each other and responded appropriately to different points of view. Although our characters didn’t necessarily believe the same things that we did, we were open to looking at things from a different perspective.

Scepticism: We researched both sides of the argument and asked questions to make sure that what we were reading was true. We checked where our information was coming from because we knew that, for our arguments to be strong, we needed to back them up with true facts.

Reasoning: We clearly explained our opinions and facts, using strong reasoning skills to express the viewpoints of our characters.

Speaking up: We used confident communication skills and weren’t afraid to challenge each other to explain their opinions.

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