Around the time of the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing, I was thinking about how applications from space science have come to life. The cold war between United States and the former Soviet Union triggered the exploration of space that, in turn, has led to plenty of innovation and improvements of our lifestyle by using technology knowledge from earlier space endeavors, research and development. In order to get you in the right mood, here is an excerpt from Ayn Rand's essay, Apollo 11:
”What we had seen, in naked essentials - but in reality, not in a work of art - was the concretized abstraction of man's greatness.
The fundamental significance of Apollo 11’s triumph is not political; it is philosophical; specifically, moral-epistemological.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center compiled a fact sheet with the "Benefits from Apollo: Giant Leaps in Technology" (PDF). It is fascinating to read about all the good things that have come out the space flights, (e.g., improvement of athletic shoes, cordless power tools, clocks with electrically stimulated quartz crystals, etc.) For more on different spinoffs, go to NASA's STI (scientific and technical information) site.
That said, my personal viewpoint is that NASA should be run as a private company. Here is a quote from Ron Pisaturo's article, Mars: Who Should Own It:
”As a capitalist and a lover of technology, I judge the nasa space program and a nasa mission to Mars to be morally a far better government expenditure than welfare-state programs such as Medicare, public housing projects, etc. At least NASA is creating something of value that benefits all Americans, instead of just taking money from producers and giving it away to non-producers. And I idolize American astronauts and NASA engineers for their heroic achievements. But we will never know what these same heroic achievers would have accomplished if NASA had been a private company with a chance to own the moon - and if all the money the government spent on NASA had remained in the hands of private citizens and had been invested in other equally heroic ventures that we will never know about; we will never know about these other ventures because they were not allowed to happen - because the money needed to finance them was taken from their rightful owners.”
What do you think will happen during the next 40 years that is related to space technology? Already now you could take a space trip with Virgin Galactic. The ticket price is around $200,000 for the following route: Kiruna, Sweden - space (circa 120 miles up in the air). SpaceShipOne started a new era that we could call space tourism. My guess is that high-tech venture capitalists and space entrepreneurs will come up with new gadgets that we could use in our daily life. I think we will see more of mash-ups between cyberspace stuff, IT and outer space. I can't really put my finger on it in this post, but you may see signs of what will come in the future, if you read Anousheh Ansari's post, Explore the moon in Google Earth.
As a final note, I want to tell you about one of my favorite tools, Fisher Space Pen. I have used this pen on a daily basis since 2003. Read and learn "how a Fisher Space Pen helped Armstrong and Aldrin return from the moon"...
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About the Author: Martin Lindeskog is a "trader in matter & spirit" and a small business entrepreneur in Gothenburg, Sweden. He is a board member of the Swedish National Association of Purchasing and Logistics (Silf, Western Region). Martin also writes a long-standing blog called Ego and has a podcast series, Egoist, on the Solid Vox network.