Why Go to Space? (Part Two)
Last post we thought about why the space effort can ultimately prove critical to humankind’s survival in the Universe. But there are hundreds of other ways space program developments are already benefiting us. Here are just a few:
Improvements in Mechanics: magnetic bearings that eliminate friction and thus wear; plasma coatings that eliminate lubricants in moving parts; laser-based welding that’s stronger and more uniform; micro lasers for precision drilling and cutting materials; structural analysis software that’s used extensively in manufacturing; cleaner paint stripping methods; weight reduction materials with increased strength.
Medical and Safety Advances: a voice-controlled wheelchair, ultrasound skin damage assessment; emergency rescue cutters; a self-righting life raft; personal medical alarms; a tollbooth purification system to protect workers; better environmental sensors; an enriched baby food ingredient to enhance infant mental and physical development; improved swimming pool purification; a miniature programmable pacemaker; safer ocular screening for children; a digital imaging breast biopsy procedure that greatly reduces pain and scarring; a fast automated urinalysis system.
High tech advances: highly efficient telemetry systems; semiconductor stacking for faster processing speeds; computer scheduling of complex tasks; scratch resistant and stay-clean lens coatings; interactive computer training methods.
Improved Environmental Systems: great solar energy advances; a device for continuously measuring atmospheric pressure; satellite weather monitoring; satellite scanning for forest management; a more accurate lightning warning device; much improved air quality monitors.
Miscellaneous fields: improved school bus chassis design; a flywheel energy storage system; advances in hydroponics for better global vegetable production; a stronger wing design for jet aircraft along with cleaner, quieter, and more efficient jet engines; studless winter tires; much improved 12v portable coolers and heaters for campers, truckers, and medical transport; improved golf ball aerodynamics.
These are but a few of the advances in almost every field of human endeavor that have spun off from the space program, with more to surely come.
When we send a rover like Perseverance to Mars, for one stellar example, it needs the best solar energy system we can invent, it need stronger, lighter materials, it needs long endurance, it needs advanced robotics, it needs bearings that won’t wear out under the harshest conditions, it needs advanced cameras and telemetry. Developing new materials and products and systems to meet all these many requirements means much of that vastly improved technology can also be put to work right here at home in myriad ways.
Does anybody still think the Space Program is a wasted effort?
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