The US Space program has usually been less than 1% of the US Budget.
However it provides countless benefits in space exploration, improvement of life technologies, greening of the planet and changing of lives for better stewardship of the planet.
This article and others in this section are provided to teach an awareness of why the US space program is so important, what lessons we can all learn and how we can apply them to our own lives.
One of the burning questions that has been the same for the last 40+ years is:
"Why go into space when we have so many problems here on Earth?"
That is a fair question, and worth answering. There are four primary reasons for space exploration.
1. The exploration of a new frontier.
2. For the amazing technologies that improve all our lives.
3. For the greening of the planet technology advancements.
4. Changing of lives for better stewardship of the planet.
Not only is it fun to learn new things that can help us grow as a species, it is a core need of the human race to explore. Now, let’s explore the other reasons for space exploration in more depth.
There have been thousands of technology “spin-offs” from the US Space Program that that has improved national security, the economy, productivity lifestyles and more.
It is difficult to find an area of everyday life that hasn’t been improved by these spin-offs. Collectively, these applications represent a dramatic return on the national investment in aerospace research.
For example, out of a $2.4 trillion budget for 2005, less than 0.8% was spent on the entire space program! That's less than 1 penny for every dollar spent. And not much has changed from then…except that the technology improvements keep coming.
And that last point is key!
Most people do not know the tremendous advancement of environmentally friendly technical advancements (and other technology advancements) that are a direct offspring from the US Space Program. This article has been written to highlight these facts.
It has been conservatively estimated by U.S. space experts that for every dollar the U.S. spends on Research and Development in the US Space Program, it receives $7 back in the form of corporate and personal income taxes from increased jobs and economic growth.
Besides the obvious jobs created in the aerospace industry, thousands more jobs are created by many other companies applying NASA technology in non-space related areas that affect us daily.
Second, there have been a great number of lives improved lifestyles of the less fortunate directly from the US Space Program. Finally, many lives have been saved by the technology improvements. How do we put a number on those benefits?
In summary: The technology and knowledge gained from US Space Program benefits everyone!
Think Green when you think about the US Space Program:
As you read the following excerpts about the advancements and improvements derived from the US Space Program: “think green!”
Ask yourself: How much money is going to be invested in “going green” this year and the coming years to respect and improve the planet? And, is it being investing in the right areas?
There is no question that proper stewardship of our planet is important. However, the question that needs to be asked is: Where can we get the most leverage for our tax dollars to improve our planet? For more exploration of this question please see: The American Space Program – Why Invest?
Now, here are just a handful of benefits provided by the US Space Program.
Environmentally Friendly Technologies - NASA Spin-offs
Solar Energy – NASA has pioneered photovoltaic power systems for spacecraft applications. Solar energy technology has been developed for space programs to expand terrestrial applications where no other long term energy sources exist.
Forest Management - A satellite scanning system has been developed that monitors and maps forestation. It detects radiation reflected and emitted from trees.
Oil Spill Control – The concept was invented by Petrol Rem, Inc. of Pittsburgh, Penn. Also, Marshall Space Flight Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory helped to design the tiny beeswax balls (microcapsules).
These microcapsules made of beeswax are designed so that water can’t get in, but oil can. , The microorganisms inside release enzymes that digest the oil when the oil seeps through the shell. Once the balls are full of digested oil, they explode. The microcapsules release enzymes, carbon dioxide and water, all environmentally safe. The residue is even eatable fish food!
Fishing from Orbit – A series of satellites were launched in 1972 by NASA to observe the changing conditions of the earth’s surface. The ability to monitor changes to the earth for a long period of time provides invaluable information such as: preserving wildlife, monitoring air and water pollution, mapping the growth of cities, flood control and more.
Feeding Our World-And Prepping to Feed Other Worlds - Disney and NASA are working together in a unique partnership. They are striving to find ways to use human and industrial waste to provide the ingredients needed for growing edible plants. This technology will be needed for establishing human colonies on other worlds.
Other spin-offs include:Environmental Control Sensors, energy saving air conditioning, air purification, sewage treatment, pollution control and measuring devices, a whale identification method, and a earthquake prediction system.
Here are more benefits of the US Space Program
Consumer Benefits NASA Spinoffs
Cordless Power Tools and Appliances - A key technological advance made the battery-powered drill possible -- a computer program was used to design the drill's motor to use as little power as possible.
At Home Smoke Detector - NASA needed a smoke and fire detector for Skylab, which was America's first space station. Honeywell, Inc. developed the unit for NASA.
Home Insulation – Space technology and other high tech ideas have been used to provide significant savings in home heating and cooling costs. A NASA-derived Barrier to Radiation is designed to reflect away 95 percent of the sun's radiant energy.
Clean Water for the Home - During the Apollo program, NASA developed a system to sterilize the astronauts' drinking water. This method included the use of ions (an atom or group of atoms carrying a positive or negative electrical charge) as part of the water filtering system. This and other technologies are used for the in home systems.
Other Consumer Spin-offs include: Scratch resistant lenses, water purification system, high-density batteries, trash compactors, shock-absorbing helmets, home security systems, composite golf clubs, smoke detectors, flat panel televisions, freeze-dried technology, sports bras, hang gliders, quartz crystal timing equipment, and more.
Even more benefits of the US Space Program
Medicine Benefits NASA Spin-offs
Digital Imaging Breast Biopsy System - One of many technology spin-offs from the Hubble telescope is the use of its Charge Coupled Device (CCD) chips for digital imaging breast biopsies. This device images breast tissue more clearly and efficiently than other existing technologies.
More than 500,000 women need biopsies a year. The economic and emotional benefits are huge. This technology greatly reduces the pain, scarring, radiation exposure, time, and money associated with surgical biopsies.
Laser Angioplasty - Laser angioplasty with a "cool" type of laser, doesn’t damage blood vessel walls. It ensures non-surgical cleanings of clogged arteries with extraordinary precision and fewer complications than with balloon angioplasty.
Camera on a Chip - Physicians soon may end up tracking the onset of osteoporosis using "camera-on-a-chip" technology developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. It was originally developed for recording images in space.
Other spin-offs include: Eye Screening, Ultrasound scanners, MRI, cataract surgery tools, arteriosclerosis detection, automatic insulin pump, portable x-ray device and clean room apparel.
The list goes on and on with Technology Spin-offs in manufacturing technology, public safety, transportation and much more.
Other Benefits of the US Space Program
The Greening of the Astronauts:
Beyond just the technology improvements, many of the Astronauts have developed a higher consciousness and a need to help out the planet earth. The impact of their experiences are significantly different however, there is an inevitable consequence of space flight. *3
"You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world and a compulsion to do something about it." ~~ Ed Mitchell (Apollo 14 Moonwalker)
The US Space Program has usually been less than 1% of the US Budget and yet it provides overwhelming benefits in space exploration, improvement of life technologies, greening of the planet and changing of lives for better stewardship of the planet.
Imagine if the other 99% of the US Budget was invested as wisely and provided as many stunning results. Where we would be today?
The early space program did a great job of improving technology and marketing why it was needed. Wernher Von Braun (head of the Marshall Center) and others clearly understood: No Bucks, No Buck Rogers!
In the past few decades the improvements keep coming, but the marketing has been dismal. This information is provided to improve that all important image.
For further Reading:
Why invest in more in the American Space Program? How will it help us solve the problems here on earth? Why not invest that money on Environmentally Friendly Programs instead?