By Ron Sparkman | @UpportunityU
How often have you heard people ask “why do we need space?” Or “Wouldn’t it be better if we spent that money on Earth instead?”
Most anyone that you meet in the space community will tell you they have heard these questions more times than they care to count. That’s because the general public is under a few assumptions. They either think that space exploration is overly expensive or they don’t know how it has ever affected their lives. But if we do a little digging, we find out that that is not the case.
The average person usually assumes that NASA is pricey because they hear that the budget came in at 19.3 billion dollars this year. What they may not know is that NASA is well under 1% of the national budget (.486% to be exact). And for each dollar invested in NASA, it brings 7-14 dollars back to the economy.
There’s even a magazine dedicated to technologies the program brings back into our economy called NASA Spinoff. The publication has showcased over 2,000 different advancements in technology since its inception in 1976 and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Moreover, most people are unaware that this program even exists or that NASA isn’t alone in bringing space technology to the regular public. Far from it. The multitude of space companies that make our everyday lives better from the technology that have created grows by leaps and bounds every year. These technologies that are changing the world are made by space, for space, or in space. The Space Foundation noticed this gap in the public conversation; a gap between what people thought space was doing for them and what it was actually doing for them. Enter…the Space Certification program.
From the organization:
Over the last fifty years, many of the technologies developed to us “out there” have come home to help improve life for us here on Earth. As part of the Space Foundation mission to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable, and propel humanity, the SpaceCertification™ program was created in cooperation with NASA to help improve public awareness and appreciation of the many practical benefits that we enjoy thanks to space technology.
Through space, we’re finding a better way to live here on Earth. Through seemingly endless hi-tech advancements, scientists knowledge of the universe is growing by leaps and bounds, especially our knowledge of our home planet. The nation, concerned about the turn education has taken in recent years, is finding creative ways to engage and educate themselves. Space technology is a big part of upgrading the tools we need for this new(ish) digital learning world. And space is endlessly inspiring the dreams of millions of children (of all ages) across the nation. For reasons like these and countless more, the certification program highlights three different styles of certified products: technology, educational, and imagination–UpportunityU.com is in that last category. And it doesn’t end there.
So by now you may be wondering “Ok, so how IS space technology affecting me?”
Well, do you ever use GPS? What do you sleep on at night? Or maybe you’re sporting sunglasses that utilize technology that was developed by NASA? The list goes on, but all over the country today, space technology has improved millions of people’s lives for the better.
And it doesn’t end there. The technologies that are actively changing the world have been inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame during the Space Technology Hall Of Fame gala that closes the yearly Space Symposium. “The separate but related scholarly recognition program, the Space Technology Hall of Fame®, was established in 1988 and has inducted over 70 technologies, hundreds of innovators, engineers, scientists, inventors, and organizations. The program communicates to the public the importance of these technologies as a return on investment in space exploration. 2017 will mark the 30th year of the capstone event of the Space Symposium,” says Rebecca Williams.
So when you think of space and the reasons we need to develop programs for it, think of the technologies that NASA and the dozens of space technologies around the world have brought into our lives. Or you could always just snack on some astronaut ice cream.