I would think in today's economics the money might be better spent on ocean research. As someone else stated we know a lot about oceans already. I can't help but think there is a lot more out there to learn though.
I don't know if it's better, but it sure seems more practical to explore the resources of the ocean than the resources of space. The key there is resources, of course. Space has virtually nothing for us to consume (aside from the obvious) and in terms of return on the money, the ocean is a better investment. In terms of pure knowledge and understanding, space would be more intriguing; in terms of practicality, I vote for the ocean.
In my opinion, public money is much better spent on ocean exploration than on space exploration. I do not believe that space exploration is likely to bring us any real lasting benefits while ocean exploration might.
Space exploration has typically been done either for A) pure science or B) national pride. While both of these are important, neither of them actually makes us any money. In a time when we need to be careful with our government finances, it seems that space exploration is a luxury, not a need.
Ocean exploration isn't a need either, but at least the ocean is more likely to pay us back for exploring. We might find resources that we can actually exploit in the oceans. If we have to choose between the two, then, I would go with the exploration that might actually pay us back in monetary terms.
I believe the opposite. We already know that the ocean is big, blue, and made up of salt water that can be purified to drink. We do not know how many other planets there are in the whole universe or if there is life on them. If there is life on them then we could discover not only new cultures but new resources.
If we are the only things in the universe then we could still discover new resources and new planets that could possibly be inhabitable.
"I mean, after all, space is the final frontier."