Catalyst for Advancement
Are you wearing shoes?
Is there a computer in front of you?
Are you using electricity?
Do you drink water?
Is the air you breath sometimes unhealthy?
Do you use any kind of motorized rechargeable tool?
Do you wear sunglasses?
Do you have an ailment that can benefit from stem-cell research?
Do you occasionally use a toilet.
Do you take showers?
Do you use one of those way cool, 2-second, ear thermometers to take your child’s temperature?
Now, I’m not going to try and pretend that you wouldn’t have these things without space exploration, but that’s not my point anyway. If you click on the links above you’d see that several of those industries supply NASA, and thus the people employed within those industries benefit from NASA funding. Behind some of those links, you’ll find technology sharing groups in which NASA researchers, paid by NASA funding, participate. Quite a few of those links will even show significant Earth-bound products, whole new industries, which were born at NASA facilities and delivered by NASA scientists. NASA featured forty-nine of these spinoff technologies in its annual spinoff report for 2009, released earlier this month. Since 1976, NASA has announced between 40 and 50 of these commercial products annually.
Some of the advances would have occurred just as quickly if that same funding had been applied in another direction…but most might not have. Many sprang from someone who had to look at something from an unearthly perspective to solve an unearthly problem.
Why space exploration? Why human space flight? Because people need things…things which are more difficult to do in space than they are “dirt-side”, and tools built to overcome those difficulties can later be turned back around and re-applied to do things better here at home. Face it, a great many of the products that you use have been improved or out-right invented by space exploration.
Until mankind built boats, they could only fish from the shore, but the greater mobility and perspective available through the use of boats helped them find better places along the shore to fish.
But first they needed to wonder…
Just what is that over there, across the vast expanse?
How do I get a closer look?