As I see yet another space shuttle being prepared for launch, I wonder to myself "What exactly have we gained from NASA and space exploration in general?" I mean, where have the billions and billions of tax dollars gone? Aren't there better things to be spending our time and resources on? So I decided to investigate.
Not to age myself, but the first thing that came to mind was Tang. I remember my parents pumping that sugar filled, tangerine tasting, home made version of orange drink down my throat as a kid. Then they would wonder why I was so hyper. Then I thought about velcro. A great invention that made the necissity for teaching a kid how to tie his own shoes obsolete. Then I got to cell phones. Ya know? That piece of technology no one can seem to get behind the wheel of a car without nowadays.
And that is where my list ended. Maybe I am not as smart as I would like to think I am. So, this being 2009, of course, I decided to google what we have gained. To be honest, I was fairly shocked and felt quite ignorant. Keep in mind, some inventions and luxuries we take for granted are an ancillary repurcussion. So without further a due:
-Anything run off a satellite (phones, televisions, military, weather, etc...)
-This thing you are on right now, the internet (enough said)
-Long life batteries
-Self contained breathing apparatus (i.e. what is used by firefighers and scubadivers)
-Solar Power (which I think we would all agree we have just touched the tip of what it will d0)
-Shock Absorbant Materials
-Smaller computers (do remember the original?)
-CD's and DVD's
...and the list goes on. More importantly, what has this done for the world economy. Think in a larger scope. Think about how many companies have been created due to the small list of achievements above. How many people these industries employee. How many products and services have been created and brought to the public as a result.
All in all, I am still not a huge fan of the space program thinking about how many tax dollars have been pumped into it. However, I have to admit that I was very suprised by what I found and I do believe it has had a very positive impact on society. So if you have the same point of view I do, think about what might be gained by shooting a group of scholars out of earth's atmosphere on a gigantic bottle rocket and how it might be the invention of the next cell phone or laptop computer. They have had a fairly large impact on our society.
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