Many people wonder what the use of space missions and think that the money spent on the International Space Station could be spent for other useful purposes. Often those people are the ones who most of all use cell phones, watch satellite TV channels and typically use various equipment and products derived from space technologies.
Unfortunately, too often people don’t know the technological developments derived from space missions. In the early decades, for people it was enough to see the astronauts in space and especially on the Moon, now that sense of wonder seems gone and many don’t understand the point of space missions.
To try to overcome this problem, in early March, the various space agencies that have built the International Space Station and work for its maintenance have started putting online on their sites pages dedicated to explaining the benefits that the Space Station International is bringing to humanity in their every day lives.
The amount of information is variable but specific pages are now present on the sites of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA) (in English and French), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) (in English and Japanese), Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) (in English and Russian), and Italian Space Agency (ASI) (in Italian and English).
Many benefits have come from technological developments in the field of medicine. The International Space Station has made it possible to carry out microgravity research on aging, trauma and various diseases allowing scientists to understand physiological processes eliminating the influence of gravity. Those studies are useful in creating new vaccines and drugs.
Research made on the International Space Station also allowed to adapt robots used in various operations for use in surgical applications even very delicate such as brain surgery.
Very important studies concern the prevention of calcium loss in bones and the formation of kidney stones. The problems faced by astronauts during their long missions on the International Space Station are similar to those that afflict elderly people, who will benefit from research carried out in space.
The position of the International Space Station also allows the crew to make observations on the Earth’s environment. This allows them to monitor local and global issues such as climate change keeping an eye on the Venice lagoon or coral reefs.
In case of disasters such as the tsunami in Japan and floods in various parts of the world, from the International Space Station they can take high quality images that show the evolution of the event. This isn’t only to witness a tragedy that could have major consequences for local residents but also to send accurate information to the local authorities about what’s going on for them to be able to intervene in the best possible way.
The International Space Station can also be an educational platform. There are already several projects to provide schools with information on the activities carried out in space to make students understands what the crew are doing. At a time when many people boast of their ignorance and are openly anti-science, only to use the products of scientific research, it’s important to have new generations know what benefit they’ll enjoy thanks to the International Space Station.
If we want a future with a better life quality, we need new scientists and engineers, people who understand the benefits of scientific and technological developments. Understanding the benefits to humanity of the International Space Station will help build a better future.