In a couple of weeks, Sunday 20th July to be exact, it will be exactly 45 years since the first two astronauts set foot on the moon. The USA and Russia, poured money and resources in to various space programs that pushed back the boundaries like nothing before them. In today’s money, the US spent something like $110 billion on the Gemini, Apollo and Mercury programs. After that were similar investments on the shuttle and the space station, in total something like $900 billion when adjusted for inflation.
Of course many people now think, that we simply can’t afford the luxury of space travel anymore, the budget of NASA has been restricted over the last few years, but it’s still a significant level at $17.5 billion. Is it a waste of money, well many economists would disagree in fact it is estimated that every dollar spent on the space program brings an economic benefit of about $9, a huge multiple. When you compare it with other costs in the American economy it becomes even less daunting – how about the $35 billion Americans spend on pizza every year, or the $250 billion on tobacco – both huge figures of dubious value to mankind (unless you work in the pizza industry of course).
Simply put there are probably two areas that accelerate technological development like nothing other, one are wars and the other is the exploration of space. It’s not only in technology though – science and medicine are also beneficiaries of the drive to explore space.
There are many thousands of examples but let’s just mention a few. After the Apollo fire there was a huge amount of research into creating fire resistant materials. That research is now in use in the mainstream where clothes and vehicle interiors have fire resistant materials now. Satellites provide better weather forecasting which in turn benefits lots of areas including shipping and agriculture.
Computers and the internet have developed too, you can watch so much stuff now through live satellite feeds wherever you are. Logon to the internet and perhaps invest in the best vpn software you can afford and you can be securely and safely connected whilst travelling.
The space program has revolutionized Medication. We learned to track leading to unprecedented advancements in patient tracking, in and out and orbiting astronauts–pioneering telemedicine. Research into astronaut bone calcium decrease has led to better understanding and treatment. Digital mammography is an immediate use of space data reduction procedures. Baby foods are beneficial due to astronaut food research.