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Expect Earthly Dividends from Future Exploration


Expect more on Earth from space as human explorers begin to push beyond the International Space Station to the moon, the asteroids and Mars, the International Space Exploration Coordination Group suggests in a new 21 page white paper, Benefits Stemming from Space Exploration, that addresses the topic.

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The coordination group, comprised of 14 space agencies, produced a Global Exploration Roadmap earlier this year outlining strategies for reaching Mars.

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg at control post for Canadian robot arm aboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit/NASA

“Space exploration will continue to be an essential driver for opening up new domains in science and technology,” according to the group’s assessment, made public on Friday. “This will return immediate benefits back to Earth in areas such as materials, power generation and energy storage, recycling and waste management, advanced robotics, health and medicine, transportation, engineering, computing and software.”

Global Exploration Roadmap link:

The conclusions are based in advances dating back more than a half century to the first human spaceflight.

Artist's illustration of NASA's new Orion crew exploration vehicle, right. Image credit/NASA

“There is no activity on Earth that matches the unique challenges of space exploration,” according to the document. “The first 50 years of space activity has generated benefits for people around the globe. The past record gives strong reason for confidence that renewed investment in space exploration will have similarly positive impacts for future generations.”

For example, after President John Kennedy committed theUnited Statesto the Apollo program in 1961, the educational system responded dramatically by producing unprecedented numbers of PhDs in the physical sciences, engineering and mathematics as the moon exploration initiative drew to a close in 1972.

A 2009 survey found that half of the internationally renowned scientists who published in the prestigious journal Nature over the previous three years were inspired to excel in their fields by the Apollo program. Ninety percent suggested that human spaceflight inspires those younger to study science.

NASA's Mission Control celebrates Apollo 11 lunar landing. Photo Credit/NASA photo

The global partnership pointed to space flight challenges likely to inspire future generations of the technically trained:

*Highly reliable interactive human and robotic systems.

*Long travel times and confinement

*New transportation capabilities.

*Operations in hostile environments

*Limited communications and supply opportunities with the Earth.






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