Space Exploration Technology
In the late 1970's many people wondered what was the purpose of the money spent on space exploration. Today the resultant technology is all around us.
In the late 1970's many people wondered what was the purpose of the money spent on space exploration. After manned trips to the moon and dramatic landings of man-made objects on Mars and Venus, the question asked by many was: "What's the point?"
If you were to think of a world without cable television, or inexpensive long-distance calling, you would only be touching the surface of how space exploration has changed the way we live. To be sure, the communications satellite is the most visible development coming from the space programs of the 1970's, but there are so many other things that most of us don't think of as space related. There are most direct and indirect benefits from space research than we ever think about.
Take things like the ceramics we use to cook with in our kitchens. The cookware and the ceramic surface ovens are a direct result of the same technology that puts tiles on the space shuttle. The epoxy and super-glues that we use around the house are another example of direct developments from the space program. The home is not the only place where the space program has affected the way we live.
Medicine was changed forever because of the space program. Telemetrics (sending information over distances) was key to monitoring astronauts’ bodies during space flights. Today heart patients and others benefit from remote monitoring technologies. This same technology has come into play in another area too.
The science of navigation has been simplified by the use of satellites and remote telemetry. Today anyone can find out exactly where they are and how to get where they want to go using satellite technology. Not only pilots and sailors, but families lost while on vacation trips are able to link to satellites and find their exact location! The technology from space exploration has made it possible to go anywhere on earth and never be lost. Satellites have mapped every inch of the earth's surface. They monitor weather, aid developing longrange weather forecasting. Satellites have also been used to find oil, gold, and other precious resources from space.
Crime fighting is also aided by satellites, which spot drug crops from space, and allow for the monitoring of movement of ships and airplanes by use of eye-in-the-sky satellites. Then of course the military uses of satellite technologies for monitoring development and testing of nuclear and other weapons makes it difficult for any enemy to gain advantage by surprise.
Then of course there is the communication satellite linking the world through radio, telephone and television worldwide. The space race of the 1970's also gave us one more technology that we often don't associate with space exploration, the PC.
Before the Space Race of the 1960's and 1970's the idea of a small lightweight powerful computer was a dream beyond imagining. It was the race to place a man on the moon which drove the need for smaller, lighter components and developed the microcomputer. Today's world of the Internet and the Personal Computer would not be possible, if it weren't for the space program.