For those of you who think that the government is wasting billions of dollars on the space program, just consider how different life on Earth would now be without technology developed by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), beginning with the development of sophisticated monitoring systems first used during Project Mercury 1959-1963) to keep track of the physical status of astronauts in space and currently used by medical personnel in intensive care units. Even the precision lasers used in bypass surgery to clear blockages from the coronary arteries were originally created by the Space Agency to monitor gases in the atmosphere of our planet. In addition, satellite TV would never have been possible without the initial launch of the first communications satellite, Telstar, in 1962.
Even everyday items from hand-held vacuum cleaners to Ray-Ban sunglasses (who’s “diamond like carbon coating was originally used to protect helmets used by astronauts from being scratched up by space particles) and Nike running shoes (adapted from material originally designed to pad space helmets) owe their existence to NASA, as do heat reflective blankets used to protect accident victims as well as marathon runners, freeze-dried foods and improved baby formulas; Teflon-coated fiberglass used in roofs; and silicon crystals (first grown in laboratories to convert sunlight into electrical energy) are now used to manufacture solar panels.Another major development was the creation of carbon fiber-reinforced graphite used on the nose cone of the Space Shuttles during their nearly 30-year mission, and now found in everything from tennis rackets and golf clubs to Formula One racing cars and so forth. Even improved breathing apparatus used by firefighters throughout the world owe their development to technology first created for extraterrestrial use by NASA.
Note: Credit for developing carbon fiber actually goes to aeronautic scientists working in Farnsborough, Great Britain during the 1960’s.