Humans have now maintained a continuous present in space for almost 19 years aboard the International Space Station (ISS). During that time, thousands of researchers on the ground in more than 100 countries have conducted experiments in microgravity. Now NASA astronaut Dr James Pawelczyk has exclusively revealed just a few of the real ways space research has contributed to our lives.
Dr Pawelczyk, told Express.co.uk: “Can we see Earth benefits from space technology?
“All you need to do is look around you – they are everywhere.
“Look at anybody wearing glasses and you see the tangible benefit of the US space program.
“That anti-scratch coating was actually built for NASA space visors back in the 1960s – few people realise that.
“Any time you board a commercial aircraft – pretty much all commercial aircraft now in the world are digital fly-by-wire – that is a NASA-created technology.”
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“If NASA was getting the royalties for that, instead of Airbus or Boeing, we would not have a US federal deficit.”
Dr Pawelczyk, a researcher of physiology and Kinesiology who flew aboard the NASA STS-90 Space Shuttle explained NASA has a unique mission.
He said: “Our job is not to make a profit as a government entity – it is to create the enabling technologies and opportunities.
“If you look in the medical world, on my mission for example, we developed the ability to essentially to take a sleep laboratory, for somebody with sleep disorders, and put it in your pocket.
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“And guess what? Now, if you have a potential sleep disorder, you are typically given a home recording system so you can record your sleep at home instead of going into a sleep laboratory.
“So technologies nobody would have thought would necessarily transport to improve life on Earth, actually do.
“The 2014 Noble Prize, which was won by Brit, used technology developed by my particular space mission.
“This was something we didn’t anticipate at all.
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“So things we learn in space flight, in terms of how that bone loss occurs and how we can mitigate it are likely to translate in to some Earth benefit.
“And by the same token, things we learn from treating those individuals on the ground can translate into space benefit. It really is a two-way street.”
US-based space agency NASA added in a statement: “The International Space Station has supported research that supports areas such as ageing, trauma, disease and the environment.
“Advances in human health have been gained from the unique microgravity environment.
“The International Space Station has a unique vantage point for observing Earth’s ecosystems.
“A wide variety of payloads can be attached to the station’s exterior to collect data on things like: global climate, environmental change and natural hazards.
“And farmers can leverage images from the International Space Station to grow crops.”