How much should US taxpayers subsidize the space program in Somalia?

The United Nations has launched its own space program, which will send scientific experiments into low-Earth orbit.  The program is geared to developing countries, but don't worry: it will be wealthy countries like America who pay for it.

The U.N. is planning to launch its first space mission into orbit, packed with scientific experiments from countries that can't afford their own space programs.

The plan is to launch the Dream Chaser in 2021 for a 14-day flight in low Earth orbit. Sirangelo says the spacecraft is "about the size of a regional jet," and the company envisions outfitting it with 20 to 25 laboratory stations for countries to do experiments in microgravity. And while it's aimed at developing countries, any U.N. member state can apply to participate.

Before liftoff, the U.N's Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is also planning to provide technical support to countries that haven't had experience conducting microgravity experiments.

Did you know the U.N. had an office for Outer Space Affairs since 1958?  There are so many wonderful things the United Nations have funded that we have never even heard about!

Experiments on board could include testing the growth of cereal crops in microgravity, St-Pierre says, or carrying out studies related to microbiology, or medicine, or energy.

And guess where the money comes from for all this.

Countries will have to pay a part of the mission's cost, but their payment will be based on what they can afford in order to allow even the poorest states to have the opportunity to be a part of the space venture. The rest of the funding could be provided by as-yet-unknown sponsors.

I know who the unknown sponsors are.  They are the countries who fund most of the budget of the United Nations.  Like the United States.

So the question becomes, how much should the United States subsidize a space program geared for third-world countries?  If Somalia learned how to grow cereal crops in zero gravity, it could help Somalis double their crop yields, once they figure out how to cancel out the effects of gravity in Somalia.  Developments in computing for the space program could help Afghanistan become the new "Silicon Valley" of the Middle East.  New zero-g manufacturing techniques could help Venezuela manufacture toilet paper, of which there is an acute shortage right now.

Given that, don't we have an obligation to fund the space program in less developed countries so they can perform zero-gravity experiments that will help them end hunger and religious wars, protect private property, and install civil societies in their own lands?

Ed Straker is the senior writer of