I believe that space activities impact on society on two levels, one practical, the other inspirational. Space activities affect our lives every day, though that influence is so seamlessly and un-obtrusively integrated into the everyday that we are usually unaware if it or take it for granted. Yet the world of 2004 is a very different place from the world of the early 1960s, in no small measure because of the development of satellite networks for communication, weather monitoring, remote sensing and navigation. The changes that these technologies have wrought in our societies are not always obvious, yet they are nonetheless real and wide-reaching: world-wide communications has created a true “global village”; remote sensing enables us to better understand and manage our natural and built environments; weather monitoring assists in disaster preparedness and amelioration; military surveillance during the Cold War helped to avert nuclear conflict. Spinoffs from space research and activities, especially in the medical field, help to save lives, and aid lives, every day. |
The excitement and challenge of space exploration also impact upon society by inspiring us: with a spirit of adventure, with a sense of awe at the beauty and mystery of the universe that it reveals, with a greater awareness of the precious fragility of our own home planet and with a greater understanding of our place in the cosmos. Space activities and the cosmic wonders they help reveal, not only inspire artists, poets and songwriters, they also imbue every one of us with a sense of what Humanity can accomplish as a species, when we set our minds to a task: a powerful antidote to the social depression that arises in times of international tension. A society without challenges to overcome is one that stultifies and stagnates: responding to the challenge of space impacts upon society by helping to keep it alive and vibrant.
Curator, Space Technology