In the USA Today, Mike Griffin rebuts the idea that we can't afford to explore space:
Our great-great-grandparents accepted the challenge of their frontier. Will today's generation do less? And if so, why? To save 15 cents per day? To save six-tenths of 1% of the federal budget? Because that is the cost to the average citizen of our nation's space program. Whether we wish to explore space or not, to say that we cannot afford space exploration is ridiculous.
Today's investments in space exploration are, like the Louisiana Purchase, a down payment on our future. We are focusing NASA's investments on key technologies that will enable our nation to bring the solar system into our economic sphere and for scientific discovery. The geography of our solar system dictates that our first, halting steps will be to the moon — three days journey away from Earth. A lunar outpost might follow soon afterward, allowing us to exploit the resources and vantage point of the moon.
Of course the robot guys come out in the comments.
Given ample evidence for Moore's Law of exponential computing power, it's not
unreasonable to conclude that humans will be eclipsed by A.I. in a few more
years. Why not let intellectually superior robots explore the cosmos and
report back what they find, the way same way the people currently bring back a
bone from the butcher to give to their dogs?
Are you crazy? We are no closer to true intelligence in AI than we were when Charles Babbage designed the Difference Engine. Besides why would we let our creation do something we want to do. Dogs did not create humans. Bad analogy. Besides, if the dog had the power, I am sure he would prefer to go to the butcher shop. By the way, Moore's law is really more of a rule of thumb and is just few years from a brick wall. You can only make wires and transistors so small before quantum mechanics starts mucking with your hardware.
Eventually, yes, we'll need to colonize. Let's figure out how we'll be able to
do that, put the research funds into that, then send people up.
Yeah, good idea. We will figure out how to live on the Moon on the Earth. Then once we know exactly what to do, we will do it. Good call. I know that works in city planning...