I got into a bit of a back and forth with a buddy today with regards to the space program. Why is it important? Aren't we wasting our money?
I'd argue that the space program is tremendously important and that we're absolutely getting our money's worth. The entirety of the current Mars rover program cost less than the most recent Olympic Games to pull off, and the US Department of Defense will spend in a year what NASA has spent in its entire 50+ years of existence. It's not cheap, but it isn't going to break the bank.
So much of modern life comes as a result of the advances of the "Space Age." From scratch-resistent lenses and telecommunications to modern computing, NASA and its push towards the limits of human achievement is responsible for much of the greatness of this country.
Here's a video, that makes this point better than I can. It's a trailer for the forthcoming documentary "The Fight For Space." Check it out, and if you feel so inclined go support it.
For further reading, check Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Chairman of the Hayden Planetarium's essay on Why America Needs To Explore Space.
And another, maybe BETTER video entitled "We Stopped Dreaming":
Part 2: "We went to the moon, and we discovered Earth."