Since the beginning of time there have always been those that have opposed exploration of uncharted lands. This statement holds truth also for the NASA program since the beginning when President John F. Kennedy’s vision was to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade.’ Instead of all the opposition of NASA and questions such as, “Why should we go to space?” I believe people should ask themselves, “Why shouldn’t we go to space?” Christopher Columbus didn’t have to sail over the Atlantic Ocean and discover America, he could have stayed in Europe but then we may not be living in the United States of America. Christopher Columbus and many others human didn’t stop but continued to explore because they are humans. We as humans have an instinctive nature to explore and discover. This is seen especially in children. When toddlers see something such as a shiny object, they investigate it by picking it up, feeling it and maybe tasting it. As we grow, it is only necessary that we as humans continue their search to discover and explore. If the excitement and thrill of exploration isn’t enough for you, there are also many benefits that NASA and space exploration contribute.
The first benefit and almost the most obvious is technology. Getting into space isn’t easy and takes time, money, and research. In order for the missions to be successes much technology is used, which a lot of the time also effects the rest of society. One simple example came from the question, “How do you get rid of excess heat when you’re standing under an open sky with literally nothing between you and the blazing fury of the Sun?” NASA scientists came up with the liquid cool garment which kept the astronauts cool and comfortable from head from to toe. This cooling system was then eventually adopted by firefighters when dealing with dangerous high temperature materials, race care drivers, and soldiers in the desert. Another simple device used in about every home is the smoke detector. The smoke detector was first used and created for the Space Shuttle. These devices quite simply detect smoke which can be caused by fires and saves thousands of lives per year. Of course NASA’s most visible achievements are the ones in space, such as the space shuttle and space stations, but NASA has found itself into everyday living on Earth.
Besides everyday living inventions NASA has helped out the medical field in several ways. The pacemakers used to treat cardiac patients and the remote monitoring devices for intensive care patients came from the telemetry systems that first monitored astronauts on the spacecraft. Also the portable medical equipment on ambulances came from several NASA scientists. I have only mentioned three uses out of f NASA’s 30,000 applications helping Earthlings in hospitals, offices and homes.
NASA also has made fabrics, such as aluminum materials to serve as insulation for satellites, and fire proof clothing. Zeolite soil is another interesting invention attributed to NASA. The study of how to grow plants in the most inhospitable location, like the moon, led to the development of a synthetic soil by JSC researchers that holds promise as a revolutionary fertilizer and soil on Earth. The list of discoveries of NASA is a list that goes on and on and is all due from space exploration. But the NASA discoveries aren’t all so serious and all about saving lives.
For example, in football the reason for people not to get concussions every time the get knocked in the head is the cushioning inside the helmet. This same cushioning comes from aircraft passenger seats made by NASA.
NASA exploration is helps farmers which boosts the economy and keeps us from going hungry. NASA’s Landsat satellites are designed to observe the changing conditions on the Earth’s surface. This satellite series began launching in 1972, and have been in operation for over 20 years. Landsats are used to manage the harvesting of fish in the world’s oceans and also being used to harvest another crop, potatoes. The satellite snaps images of potato crops in a 20,000 square-mile area of Oregon and Washington. The satellite data is used to calculate how well potato crops are doing. This helps farmers because the more potatoes there are, the less money farmers will get for their crop. If the satellite data shows there are too many potatoes, it means the price is going down, so farmers will sell their potatoes right away.
NASA itself is also a benefit because its helps the economy. NASA employs 18,146 men and women across the nation. Not only does its help out only the employees but other companies in the United States especially. When NASA needed to build a space shuttle several companies came to them with ideas, models, and figures of the cost. Whoever they give the job to not only is paid but might need to buy certain materials from another company. That company might then need to buy more material or hire more workers and the chain goes on and on. When a lot of money is being transferred its effects other companies across America and usually for the better.
With the Columbia disaster many people, especially politicians, once again debated the value of human space flight weighed against the cost in dollars and human lives. This can be debated back and forth but the facts are the astronauts know that they have a job to do and every launch may be their last. The reason they know about the dangers and still accept the challenges isn’t because their crazy or stupid, but because they are adventurous, smart, and considerate. The Columbia was going to improve earthquake safety, cleaner air, and continue to better human life. All the astronauts on the Columbia were scientists and performing tasks from tumor growth experiments to global climate change that could only be done in Space. But even the families of the astronauts said the explorers left Earth with “a willingness to accept risk in the pursuit of knowledge – knowledge that might improve the quality of life for all mankind.” The closest people to the astronauts, their families, who were hurt by the tragedy the most also added, “the bold exploration of space must go on.”
NASA and space exploration will continue to go on and I believe the strength behind the program will also grow as more discoveries are made. As humans it is our nature to explore and besides that, thousands of benefits from saving lives to everyday life are attributed to NASA. The possibilities of space exploration are only limited by your imagination and we are only in the early stages of it.