Whenever one talks about space exploration, visiting moons, terraforming Mars, black holes etc. there is someone who brings up the point that
“Why do we need to spend money in bulks for these projects?”
“Why money from my taxes is wasted on these expeditions?
Here is my answer to these people.
We are the explorers
From the beginning of human era on the planet earth, we were curious about everything. In the beginning, there were greater things to deal with. The early human had to guard themselves against weather, diseases, and wild animals but as we discovered fire about 800,000 years ago, it helped to keep ourselves warm and kept us protected from the wild animals. The warmth of fire created small groups making small societies.
Before controlling fire, every individual needed not to worry about their safety, as the society developed some members were hunters while other have to look after their resources. This assignment of tasks made people think apart from their safety.
As we moved from being hunter and gatherer to become farmers, this process intensified social bonds. And with the development of language, we were able to communicate and share experiences. These experience become knowledge on basis of which people know which plants are edible and which are poisonous. We become more dependent on each other and we developed mutual understanding.
With fewer things to worry, one day a guy may have wondered what lies beyond the horizon. Several would have made ships to look for the possibility of finding new. How many would have lost their lives on to this quest is unknown but we know who was successful. And the success of Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama embarked a new chapter in the human era.
“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”-Columbus.
In the 20th century, when most of the lands of the Earth was explored then people wondered what would be like to fly.
“The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who traveled across trackless lands in prehistoric times.” – Orville Wright.
But we humans always tried to limit our capabilities.
“No flying machine will ever fly from New York to Paris”.
Who do you think would have made such claim? It was said by Orville Wright.
And now we have intercontinental flights daily. We always underestimate what is possible.
In the 40s German rocket engineers and Scientists were trying to create rockets which would cross the edge of atmosphere to visit space.
Russian Space pioneer Konstantin Tsiolkovsky said,
“The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.”
On Oct. 3, 1957, when Soviets launched the world’s first satellite Sputnik 1, they showed that we are not bound to the Earth. And On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin showed that we can leave Earth and return back safely.
John F. Kennedy when announced that NASA is going to put a man on the moon by the end of the 60s. He said
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
When man landed on the moon on July 20th, 1969, not only they visited the moon but whole humanity was with them.
In the words of von Braun
“Don’t tell me that man doesn’t belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to go and he’ll do plenty well when he gets there.”
We went to the moon, we will go to the mars and what lies beyond. The vision of NASA, SpaceX, and humanity lies behind our attempts to explore what lurks in the darkness.
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great – and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.” –Elon Musk.
What we achieved by Space Exploration?
Okay, I will be listing few inventions which are the product of Space explorations.
In the 1990s a team at the Jet propulsion Lab created cameras small enough to fit on spacecraft and scientific quality. 1/3 of all cameras contain this technology.
The Lewis Research Centre attempted to develop diamond-hard coatings for aerospace systems, later creating a technique that was developed and patented for just that purpose.
A space program needs a pretty good digital image, the JPL played a lead role in developing this technology, which in turn helped create CAT scanners and radiography.
Red LEDs are being used in space to grow plants and heal humans on Earth. LED technology used by NASA has contributed to the development of medical devices such as WARP-10.
Nike Air trainer wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for suit construction technology developed by NASA. It was a former NASA engineer that first pitched the idea.
Water Purification Systems-
In the 1960s, NASA created an electrolytic silver iodizer to purify astronauts’ drinking water. This technology is now widely used to kill bacteria in recreational pools.
NASA and Diatek developed an 8-ounce aural thermometer, which uses infrared astronomy technology to measure the amount of energy emitted by the eardrum.
NASA, being one of the forerunners for advancing communication technology, developed these headsets to allow astronauts to be hands-free without wires.
Adjustable Smoke Detector-
While NASA didn’t actually invent the first smoke detector, it did come up with a modern version of the invention, creating the most sophisticated alarm system ever invented.
NASA’s innovations into shock-absorption materials coupled with robotic and extravehicular activities are being adopted to create more functionally dynamic artificial limbs.
In the 60s a NASA researcher was trying to make the computer more interactive when an idea was suggested about how best to manipulate data on a computer screen, leading to the mouse.
The SPOC was created by adopting the GRiD Compass, the first laptop. In its creation hardware had to be modified and new software developed, which propelled the commercial market.
People Watching Moon Landing.
These are only material things but the effect of these space explorations is much more diverse. When man landed on the moon it was not only the achievement of an agency or a nation, it was the achievement of humanity.
TV broadcast of the first moon landing inspired new generations of people to become scientists, engineers showing them that a new dimension of life is opened.
It united people. When images of Earth rising on the moon’s horizon were seen by people, it showed them the bigger picture. That how we are living on the small, fragile and alone planet in space.
International Space Station is another remarkable achievement of humankind. Seven nations worked together to make it possible. It is the largest spacecraft in orbit around Earth. It made possible for people to have an ongoing presence in space. It serves as a base for further space exploration.
It is necessary.
Earth is just a speck of dust in the vast cosmos. It is fragile and life, as we know, is always on the verge of extinction.
With about 1.9 million asteroids larger than 1 kilometer in diameter, and millions of smaller ones. Only one asteroid hurling toward earth can cause mass extinction like which happened to the dinosaurs. By advancement of space technologies, we can deflect any space rock coming toward us.
Nearby Gamma-Ray Bursts, powerful solar flares, and supernovae in our cosmic backyard are few things capable of wiping any life form on the Earth.
With the increase in the population and limited resources, we need to increase resources to feed the needs of increasing population and standards of living.
With becoming interplanetary civilization we are opening doors of opportunity which lies hidden to us. We will be no longer bound to a single planet.
Just think about it, Can you live in a room filled with food and necessary life amenities for your whole life, while out there lies a world full of adventures and amazing things?