How the Space Program Spurred Our Economy Part II

Large eras in human history have been defined by the tools we used during the era, i.e. the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and the Industrial Age. The moon exploration conducted by the U.S. Space Program catapulted the human race into the Technology Age. Computers and technology are now our tools.

The journey to the moon and what was developed in order to get there and back safely has dramatically changed history. This was the true benefit of the space program.

The important point is that the people developing space technology in the 1960s could not have imagined that their efforts to miniaturize electronics would lead to inventions such as the iPhone or iPad.

The iPad, a direct result of miniaturization efforts in the U.S. Space Program

The iPad is a direct result of miniaturization efforts in the U.S. Space Program

As a result, there is now hand-held, affordable computer technology in most households today, technology that has changed our lives. Such advances were beyond their comprehension in the 1960s. Similarly, we have no idea what will ultimately be developed if we make space travel practical. What is certain is that dramatic advances will ensue if reaching orbit becomes easy, safe and affordable.

The bottom line is that we can’t envision the dramatic changes that will occur if we made space travel practical, only that they will occur. Ruling out a renewed space effort because we can’t imagine where it will lead us is a failure in forward thinking. Once low cost travel to space is possible, it is certain we will find many new applications for this technology. The result, a new booming economy will develop. Hopefully, just like the domestic aircraft industry has boosted our economy.

The cancellation of the Space Shuttle program and turning-over space launch vehicles to private industry provides an opportunity to advance technological development and thus provide another boost for the U.S. economy. The book “What If We Made Space Travel Practical?” examines the opportunities this new era presents.

Please check out www.StarHorseProject.com to understand more.

Read How the Space Program Spurred Our Economy Part I published on July 15, 2013.

How the Space Program Spurred Our Economy Part I

“Why go into space?” is a common question that many people ask. Many skeptics asked, “What value there was in bringing moon rocks back to earth?” The question shows they missed the true benefit we gained from the space program. Retrieving moon rocks may have been a trivial event in history to all but geologists and astronomers. But the journey to the moon and what was developed in order to get there and back safely has dramatically changed history. This was the true benefit of the space program. It’s not the destination that’s important—it’s the journey.

U.S. Space Program, Apollo 11, Catching Some Sun

Catching some sun and collecting moon rocks in the U.S. Space Program. By NASA on The Commons (Apollo 11: Catching Some Sun) [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

The technology that was developed in order to reach the moon was then further developed to produce dramatic, technologically advanced, consumer and business tools. The quest for the moon rocks has created a vast array of tools that have changed society—its pace and how it qualitatively operates today.

Before the space race, the use of transistors was in its infancy. Existing electronic technology employed vacuum tube circuits that were too heavy and too delicate to handle the demands of space travel. Of necessity, they were replaced by transistors and solid-state electronics, a newer technology that was there, waiting in the wings and ready to explode in usage and growth. They just needed the right door to enter through.

Demands for increasingly complex circuits continued, and obligingly, these transistors were grouped together into integrated circuits, further reducing weight, size and power usage while increasing functionality. As the demands for onboard automatic controllers and computers increased, these integrated circuits evolved in further complexity and were ultimately combined into microchip computers.

The space program (and related military missile programs) forced electronic miniaturization which, in turn, inspired further advances in electronics and birthed an amazing and expansive industry. The burgeoning electronic industry then reapplied the technology developed from the space program into more terrestrial pursuits, like portable transistorized radios, solid-state televisions, the mini-computer and then the home computer. When IBM first introduced the home computer in 1981, many could not imagine why anyone would need a computer at home. That quickly changed as simple and highly useful programs, applications, games and other entertainment and communication functions were added to make home computers an indispensable part of our personal and professional lives today.

Now we feel the need to carry these computers with us everywhere in the form of smart phones, laptops and tablets. Most of us sit in front of a computer at work. The “tool” of our era is technology. The human race has transitioned from the Industrial Age into the Technology Age in an extraordinarily short period of time.

Few of us understand the pivotal role the space program had in propelling this transition.

Watch for Part II to be published on July 22, 2013.

Virgin Galactic Gets Researchers into Space

Not only does Virgin Galactic offer tourists a chance to travel in space, they offer researchers a way to conduct experiments and gather data there too.

As mentioned in my previous post Private Commercial Space Programs a Reality, the general public remains largely unaware of these important plans and accomplishments. Scientists, engineers, educators, and others are invited to participate as part of Virgin Galactic’s core mission. There are two types of research flights available with plans to eventually put another ship to use.

To learn more about this exciting development, read Conducting Research on SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo on the Virgin Galacitc website.

Satellite in space

Satellite in orbit around the Earth, artist’s rendering.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

photo attribution: By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA (Landsat Celebrates 40 Years of Observing Earth) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“What If We Made Space Travel Practical?”
“What If We Made Space Travel Practical?”