NGC 6302 aka "Butterfly Nebula" image taken by the Hubble Telescope
The impact of our aspirations to look beyond our own planet have been heavy for human society. Ever since the first telescopes were invented and used we've gained a better understanding of how our solar system works. Not to mention, it led to the invention of the spyglass used by the public and private sector.
Let's look at it in a more modern view. For example: How much does NASA effect our economy? Well, NASA's yearly budget for Fiscal Year 2014 is $17.7 Billion. Since 2005, NASA has potentially flowed $180 billion into the economy. How is that? Well, a lot of the technology developed by NASA for the use in Space Exploration is adapted to commercial products we use every day.
GPS, wireless communications, more powerful computers and the like are all indirect effects felt by NASA's pursuit of space! Many private companies value NASA's research. From helping Aeronautics by developing pressure-sensitive paints, to helping to develop better dietary information, NASA's work expands far beyond just their spacecraft and work directly.
Even the Private Sector is helping on this front. Soon, Space Tourism may be real. Imagine being able to take a ride in a sub-orbital ship so you can see the Pale Blue Dot with your own eyes. My guess is it truly is a life changing experience!