One thing that really bothers me is when space exploration is justified by the need for national security - or worse - nationalism is used to try to buoy support for it. With NASA about to cut Mars exploration by a hefty chunk in their 2013 budget, here's former NASA associate administrator, Edward Weiler:
"We are the only country on this planet that has the demonstrated ability to land on another planet, namely Mars. It is a national prestige issue."Now I can almost submit that quote without further comment but let me just say this: space is international waters. Space is free. Space isn't something that you claim as "American" or "Other Than American" and build security policy around it. And furthermore, arguing we need to spend tens of billions to retain "national prestige" is one of the most offensive ideas I've heard in a while. Getting a colony on Mars, or finding life on other planets, or even just keeping people in the ISS...its not about protecting America - its about creating technological advancements that will both benefit all of Earth's population but also working towards a goal of guaranteeing the survival of our species by diversifying our population beyond a single star system.
Prestige is something you worry about cultivating if you know your life will end and you want to be remembered. I don't want humanity to end, I want it to thrive - here and elsewhere.