Here’s how the Space Race forever changed the global economy.

Posted on: 2022-09-26 14:42:45

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." said USA President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Only seven years after this speech, Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon and the world celebrated.
The Soviet Union and the USA have always been rivals when it comes to who has more power, better technology, and a better economy. The USA and the Soviet Union were pitted against each other during the Cold War in the mid-20th century and during the Second World War. This led to a series of competitive technology demonstrations between the United States and the Soviet Union, aiming to show superiority in spaceflight. Though the Soviet Union was always ahead of what NASA was doing at that point, the USA managed to put a man on the moon and bring him back to earth safely before the rest of the world.
Some believe that, for J.F. Kennedy, the space race was not just important because he wanted the USA to reach the moon before the rest of the world, but it was important because a lot of countries were becoming independent at that period in history, and JFK wanted those countries to believe that the USA is a much stronger country than the Soviet Union. Winning the Space Race helped America look strong in front of the rest of the world and helped them build ties with many countries, eventually helping their country economically and politically. In the coming decades, space exploration got extremely advanced and many countries, such as India and China, also became successful at competing with space veterans like the USA and the Soviet Union.
The technology developed for space programs is very advanced and complex, and in the next few years, the technology developed for space will be used in the armed forces, the automobile industry, and many others. The automobile industry and the armed forces are a guess when you ask anyone where space technology can be used. But there are a lot of products and technologies that we use in our day-to-day lives that came into existence because of the efforts of space exploration.

Some of the examples are as follows:

1) Artificial limbs:

The innovations in space vehicles, like the Curiosity Rover, have helped the artificial limb industry immensely. Artificial muscle systems, robotic sensors, diamond-jointed coatings, temper foam, and many more technologies are the gift of the technological advancements made for space exploration. According to Grand View Research, the artificial limb industry is about a $6.23 billion dollar industry and it is growing very fast because of the innovations in the artificial intelligence sector.

2) Scratch-resistant lenses:

NASA has done a lot of research to create scratch-resistant and durable glass for space suits. After successfully creating it, Nasa licensed other companies to use the technology, leading to the creation of scratch-resistant lenses used in sunglasses and prescription glasses. According to reports, the scratch-resistant lens industry is a 2.83-billion-dollar industry and is growing very fast because of online sales.

3) Water Filters:

In 1970, NASA developed a water purification system for astronauts so they could reuse the water being used during their stay in space. It is now being used at the International Space Station. This technology later became popular and is now a highly used product. According to a 2018 report, the water filter industry is a 10.8-billion-dollar industry and is estimated to reach 14.7 billion by 2023.

4) Wireless Headsets:

to the invention of wireless headsets, it was extremely difficult for pilots to communicate with each other and the ground team due to the design of space suits. However, Nasa developed wireless headsets that allowed astronauts to communicate with one another and with teams on Earth. This technology became very popular and now it is one of the most important parts of our lives. The global market for wireless headsets and earphones is expected to reach 70 billion dollars by the year 2028.

Tang (dried edibles):

Eating on a spaceship is difficult. Even if we make it possible, the food we eat on Earth will not survive in space. Therefore, space researchers came up with the idea of creating dried food. These food products are light and easy to carry to the space station. One of the most popular and loved dried edibles is Tang Orange Juice. After getting popular for its orange flavors, it is now available in many other flavors too, globally. Kraft Foods announced in June 2011 that Tang had become its twelfth billion-dollar brand, nearly doubling global sales since 2006.

6) Memory Foam:

NASA developed memory foam, a polyurethane-silicon plastic, to reduce landing impacts. The material evenly distributes weight and pressure for shock absorption, and even after being compressed to 10% of its original size, it returns to its original shape. The use of this material in mattresses is now very popular. In 2020, the market for memory foam mattresses was valued at USD 4,765 million, and it is expected to grow to USD 9,281 million by 2027.

7) Smoke detector:

In the event of fire or noxious gases being released in your space environment, you would like to be informed as soon as possible. For this reason, NASA helped develop the first adjustable smoke detector with different sensitivity levels. By comparing them with the ones used in the first American space station, Skylab, you might be able to identify those hanging in your own home. This technology, which was originally developed for space exploration, is now available to the entire human population on Earth, and it has become a multibillion-dollar industry. Globally, smoke detectors were estimated to be worth $1.96 billion in 2020.
These are just a few items that were originally designed for space but are now a part of our daily lives. Taking a look at these inventions collectively and how they have impacted the lives of millions of people, the contribution they have made to human existence might seem insignificant. However, the contribution of these items to the global economy is huge, and our dependency on these items is increasing year on year. What we can learn from this, besides the economic benefits, is that everything that we do has an impact on a bunch of other things, and this is how one thing changes the world and the lives of millions of people.
Written by- Omkar Shraddha Dharmapal Manjrekar
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