We’ve received a variety of messages raising this and my personal (Abhishek here) view starts with the fact this that is a completely fair statement. Money from an area such as space exploration (or arguably many other fields of scientific study) could definitely have a more immediate benefit to humanity if spent on helping the poor or aiding the economy.
However, there are a variety of points as to why space exploration or research of a similar vein deserve funding and one of the major points is that spin-off technology ranging from vehicles to food to medical procedure can often be created as a result and has direct benefits for both economies and people. There is even a Wikipedia page detailing this. The second point is that there are other areas where a great deal of money goes into currently such as defence which are all areas that lead to lessened human development in comparison to scientific development and space exploration.
At the end of the day, we’re just human. The want to explore is something that drives almost everyone and, as selfish as it may sound, the carrying out of space exploration can often bring people closest to achieving this.