Manned Space Flight & America's Future, Vol. I

Who benefits from technology developed for manned space flight?? Everyone…

From geologists to?archaeologists:

Digital topographic data of mountain ranges, which will be available for the first time with the retrieval of Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data, will allow geologists to test new models of how mountains form and determine the relative strength of the forces that uplift and crumple mountains and the erosive forces which polish and reshape them.

The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission will provide archaeologists with a topographic view of both ancient sites and the current landscape, which they can use to help determine the boundaries of original sites.? Shuttle radar data also will enable them to compare large-scale ancient settlement patterns and their distribution around the world. Since many archaeologists working in remote parts of the world rely on outdated maps or no maps at all to conduct these studies, the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission’s highly precise 3-D data will provide many with their first comprehensive tools.

To citizens in the danger zone:

Communities nestled near the bases of active volcanoes or on earthquake faults will be of interest to volcanologists and seismologists as well. Scientists can use 3-D topographic maps from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission to study the potential of natural hazards. In addition to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, regions prone to severe flooding by major rivers will be of interest.

To city planners

Radar imaging?will also be used as a tool for city planners, land management and resource conservation efforts, which require highly detailed topographic maps for monitoring land use patterns. Spaceborne radar imaging systems can clearly detect the variety of landscapes in an area, as well as the density of urban development.

To photo sensitive school girls:

Next Monday may be just the start of another week for most people, but for two little girls, it will be a red letter day as they do something most people take for granted ? the chance to go outside and play on a nice sunny day.? The two girls, Amanda Clanton, 9, from Crosby, Texas and Erica Lumas, 6, from Honduras, both suffer from what is known as xeroderma pigmentosum or, XP disease. The girls can not tolerate exposure to either the sun?s strong ultraviolet light or even bright indoor lighting and are forced to remain inside, in darkened rooms all of the time.? All of that will change when the girls and their families meet Monday with JSC officials along with representatives from the non-profit HED Foundation and Related Disorders of Hampton, Virginia organization and they each receive a special UV protection suit that was developed from space-based technology.? The suits have made a huge impact in the lives of those who have used them, enabling them to go outside in daylight for the first time.

To heart patients:

A miniaturized ventricular-assist pump, developed for heart patients using NASA technology, has been successfully implanted into seven people in European clinical trials. More than 20 additional implants are expected by mid-1999.? The tiny device has functioned normally and to specification, said Dallas Anderson, president and CEO of MicroMed Technology Inc. of Houston, TX, the company to which NASA granted exclusive rights for the pump.


Under a Space Act agreement between Boeing North America (formerly known as Rockwell Space Systems) and BSR Products, Inc., of Mooresville, North Carolina, Space Shuttle Thermal Protection System (TPS) materials that orbit the globe now circle the race track.? BSR has created special TPS blanket insulation kits for use on autos that take part in National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) events, and other race cars through its nationwide catalog distribution system.? NASA’s fleet of orbiters are protected by TPS materials inside and out…The idea of using Space Shuttle TPS to insulate heat-generating areas of stock cars came by way of a tour taken by NASCAR champion Bobby Allison at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Then KSC Director, Jay Honeycutt, a racing fan himself, recommended to Allison that TPS insulation could shield drivers from excessive heat exposure…

Even to tree huggers:

Mapping of the world’s rainforests is an essential ingredient in global protection of Earth in the next century. Another avenue of investigation during the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission will focus on radar-imaging of fragile habitats, such as Earth’s tropical forests, to assess vegetation types and determine terrain characteristics. Terrain data that will be collected during the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission will provide near-global-scale coverage of these ecosystems at a much higher resolution and allow scientists to study tropical rainforests in more detail.

And huge segments of the working public:

In May 1996, the first Boeing 777 stopped by Langley Research Center as a salute to NASA’s involvement in its creation. Several Langley innovations were instrumental in the development of the aircraft, such as:

  • fundamental mathematical procedures for computer-generated airflow images which allowed advanced computer-based aerodynamic analysis;
  • wind tunnel tests, confirming the structural integrity of 777 wing-airframe integration in Langley’s Transonic Aerodynamics Tunnel. Use of the facility was reimbursed to NASA by Boeing;
  • knowledge of how to reduce engine and other noise for passengers and terminal area residents;
  • radial tires that are used on the aircraft underwent strength and durability testing at Langley’s Aircraft Landing Dynamics Facility;
  • and increased use of lightweight aerospace composite structures for increased fuel efficiency and range. The 777’s floor beams, flaps and tail make use of lightweight composites.

At Marshall Space Flight Center, results from tests aimed at improving the performance of NASA’s Space Shuttle engines led to improvements in the Boeing 777’s new, more efficient jet engines. Working with Pratt & Whitney, the U.S. aircraft and rocket engine provider, NASA engineers conducted evaluations of wake patterns flowing through the plane’s turbine engine airfoils.

How important is aircraft manufaturing to the United States?

Briefly, here are just a few remarks on the subject from U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Grant D. Aldonas,?in testimony?before Congress in ’01:

“Our aerospace industry has the highest net trade surplus of all of our manufactured goods and has consistently recorded trade surpluses even as the overall U.S. trade balance in manufactured products has widened.? Last year, when the United States experienced a record trade deficit, the U.S. aerospace industry recorded a trade surplus of some $27 billion.?? These exports sustain hundreds of thousands of high wage, high-tech U.S. jobs.? Export sales help support not only the airframe manufacturers themselves, but many other companies, including small- and medium-sized enterprises who serve as ?indirect exporters.? Manufacturers of complete aircraft rely on over 10,000 U.S. suppliers to provide the millions of individual components that comprise a complete aircraft.?

And truly, I haven’t even scratched the surface as to?why manned space flight is indispensable to America’s future.? Here’s just one link of many from which one may begin to appreciate the HUGE benefits manned space flight has provided to the U.S. and its’ citizenry:


Look for Vol.II of Manned Space Flight & America’s Future, which will be coming?to RS readers soon!