A few days ago I had one of those drunk conversations on the importance of space exploration. A chunk of it was spent on trying to remember and figure out which technologies do we enjoy now that were initially develop for or during space missions. Today, on this slow Saturday afternoon, I remembered the conversation and had a brief look around. There are plenty of websites that show the top 10 or just a random collection of technologies that improved live on Earth, after being used in space. But I think the better, all around, one is the Wikipedia page on NASA spin-off technologies.
There are quite a few things listed there, grouped and categorized under health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer, home, and recreation, environment and agriculture, computer technology, and industrial productivity.
Chris Hadfield, the retired Commander of the International Space Station, is interviewed by Joe Rogan, who questions everything, in this video podcast. They talk about all kinds of things – space, science, technology, environment, social matters, etc. It’s an hour long, but it’s worth every minute of it.
It’s fascinating in a variety of ways. I particularly enjoyed the bits about stars and light pollution, humans living on a tiny crust, and his feelings during the flight up and coming back down. As a side note, I couldn’t not notice how clean his language is and how well he expresses himself, and how educated he is in a variety of areas. Joe Rogan is by far not an idiot, and yet, the contrast is still there.
Of course we are not alone! Just look up at the night sky – there are thousands of stars you can see with a naked eye. There are billions that you can see with some telescopes and space travel. How many of these have planetary systems – we don’t even know well enough yet (we’ve found 133 with more than one planet, but our tools still suck). Among all of that, what are the chances that Earth is the only one that has arguably intelligent life? I am no mathematician (or statistician), but I won’t be betting any money on us being alone.
Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled today a new $50 billion effort to maintain and extend the country’s space capabilities. Part of this initiative is a new spaceport located in Russia, which will lead to the first manned launches from Russian soil in 2018. Manned launches currently originate from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
On one hand, it’s nice to see that they are at least pretending to pick the good causes. On the other hand, it sad that history shows that very little of these money, if any at all, will make it to the space programs. Most of it will disappear in the same way as before…
By now, everyone has probably already heard about the meteorite that exploded over the Chelyabinsk city in Russia. There are tonnes of videos on YouTube and photos all over the web. I think this one, that meshes a few of them together, is pretty good.
Meteors are the universe’s way to ask hows your space program going.
And the last thing I want to add on the subject is that I’m really glad nobody is dead. A lot of people were injured, and there is plenty of damage to buildings, but that all is repairable. If that trajectory of that thing was slightly different, and it hit the ground before exploding, I imagine the damage would be way greater.
This is so cool! We’ve all seen bits and pieces of space stuff in TV reports. But this is something else – a complete and through tour of the whole thing. Well, maybe not complete, as there might be a few places that a webcam is not allowed. While watching this, I kept thinking of two things.
The first is that there is way more space up there on ISS than I ever thought there was. There is a possibility that my perception was mostly shaped by videos from the Russian modules, which do seem to be a bit less spacious.
The second is that it’s amazing how the whole secrecy has changed with ISS. The top of the top technologists and scientists from different countries work together, experiment together, and discover together. Again, I’m pretty sure there are still plenty of secrets, but there has been a huge progress, I think.
And now that you are done with the video, just pause for the second and think of all the things, all the people, all the technology that had to come through for this even to happen. Given that space stations don’t grow on trees naturally, but are a product of human genius, I can’t be anything but absolutely amazed by it.