The Importance of the NASA Space Program
I am quite certain that everyone reading this article has heard about the space agency called NASA. I am not here to tell you about NASA but about their easily displaced value and why they need more funding. However, for the sake of those who may not really know what the NASA Space Program is, here’s a brief: NASA is an acronym that stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It was established in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower and is responsible for civilian space programs and also aeronautics and aerospace research. Ever since, NASA has made and contributed to groundbreaking discoveries and inventions in major areas of everyday living, most of all – medicine, and global-killer events prevention.
Before we delve into the funding needs and importance of the NASA Space Program, it necessary that we look into how they (NASA) have impacted our lives. Have you ever wondered how space exploration and aeronautic research has affected your life? Honestly, there was a time I didn’t think it had any use; I felt they should be more focused on earth-problems rather than spending all that money building huge telescopes and sending men outside earth just to find out what the Martians had for breakfast. I was ignorant, now I know better.
Importance of NASA in Technological Advancements
Many devices would have been totally useless if it weren’t for hundreds of satellites floating silently in space. Mobile phones, laptops,…hell, the internet itself would be severely limited or downright impossible if satellites weren’t lunched into space.
In addition, these space-floating man-made objects are equipped to read weather patterns improving accuracy in weather prediction. Thanks to the NASA Space Program, we now have concrete information on the formation, movement, and magnitude of severe weather phenomena like tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, global warming, blizzards, etc.
To really appreciate the impact of NASA in healthcare, one has to have been a patient or have a loved one who has been a patient of a life-threatening condition with only a few months/days left to live only to be saved by a device invented by NASA at the ‘last minute’. Take for instance the LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) developed by Engineers at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston in 1995. They worked with Dr. Michael DeBakey to create this artificial heart pump based on the space shuttle’s fuel pumps, which help keep patients in a stable condition as they await heart transplants – it even sometimes makes a transplant unnecessary.
Another device which NASA didn’t invent but contributed immensely to is the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). However, the digital image processor that enhances pictures taken by the MRI (and even CT or CAT scans) was invented by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
I could go on and on describing outstanding inventions by NASA and those whose creation they contributed to but I’d rather just list them below. You may have come across; know someone; even used (or are currently using) one of the following devices enumerated below:
- Programmable pacemakers
- Digital imaging breast biopsy system, developed from Hubble Space
- Telescope technology
- Forceps with fiber optics that let doctors measure the pressure applied to a baby’s head during delivery
- Tiny transmitters to monitor the fetus inside the womb
- Cool suit to lower body temperature in treatment of various conditions
- Laser angioplasty, using fiber-optic catheters
- Voice-controlled wheelchairs
- Light-emitting diodes (LED) for help in brain cancer surgery
- Foam used to insulate space shuttle external tanks for less expensive,
- better molds for artificial arms and legs
- Tools for cataract surgery
So, the next time you happen by or use any of these devices, think NASA.
Above the medical breakthroughs is something else more important that should make NASA one of the top priorities for the US government as far as funding is concerned. And when I say ‘above the medical’, some readers may not be able to think of anything more important than medical inventions, which save lives. But, answer this question, ‘What’s the use of a mind-blowing medical invention if Armageddon comes earlier than scheduled?’
Importance of the NASA Space Program in Global Disaster Prevention
This is the most important role of NASA beyond and above everything else, and the role that is the least appreciated, how ironic. Do you know what would happen to this beautiful blue marble if an asteroid the size of New York City were to collide with it? Well, nothing much…just global wide infernos; earthquakes strong enough to break the Richter’s scale; tsunamis the size of Australia and taller than the balge Khalifa; and enough ash cloud to blot out the sun! Ask the dinosaurs, they know all about very big rocks falling from the heavens, with fire. It is only with adequate funding of NASA that we stand the chance of detecting these global killers on course towards the earth and do something about it before we become Milky Way barbecue.
This year, NASA’s funding increased by $1.3 billion and was $750 million more than what NASA requested, and that’s commendable. However, it’s bat poo when compared to the funding budget for the military. Not to say the military is unimportant. I definitely like to be rest assured that Bin Laden’s cousins won’t be allowed the liberty to amass enough nukes to chargrill my neighborhood. But looking at the big picture, all the nukes in the world will mean nothing if an asteroid of that size is on course to our planet without early detection.
NASA needs adequate funding to continue creating devices that will save and improve countless lives in medicine and healthcare. And also develop better telescopes and other gizmos that will enable them detect meteors, asteroids, and any other rocky stuff heaven hurls at us early enough to do something about. Rather than spending money on senseless wars and violence, and coming up with better ways to kill ourselves……and Bin Laden’s cousins (not that I don’t appreciate that).