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Rocket Science

What has NASA done for you lately?

October 1, 2009
Debra Lordan · Editor/General Manager

Many people are not aware of the vast benefits birthed by space research which improve the quality of our daily lives. An enormous number of the things we use each day are based on technology that was designed originally for space flight, for example. Thousands of spin-offs in computer technology, consumer products of all kinds, environmental and resource management, health and medicine, manufacturing technology, and public safety and transportation, which save lives, improve our standard of living, and contribute to national security, the economy, and productivity on our home planet.

Just a few of the thousands of new or improved down-to-Earth applications we use each day include water purification and air filtration technology, smoke detectors, firefighting equipment, cameras developed for the Mars Rovers, athletic shoes, super-fast wireless communication, GPS, memory foam, cell phones, cordless tools, laser angioplasty and swim wear so slick it had to be banned from competitive events. The foods most of us consume have been affected by aerospace technology as well—and we’ve come a long way from Tang. Food safety principles now used industry-wide were derived from the space program.

It is almost impossible to find an area of everyday life that has not been improved by these spin-offs. In addition to the creation of jobs in the space industry, thousands more are available at companies that apply related technology in Earthbound areas that affect us daily. These secondary applications represent a substantial return on our investment in aerospace research.

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Debra Lordan · Editor/General Manager

Even if you think these technological advancements unnecessarily complicate our lives rather than improve our standard of living, consider what may be even more important than the invention of the Dustbuster. The effects of our insatiable curiosity about the final frontier also include good paying jobs in the island’s growing high-tech industries, economic diversity, and inspiration and incentive for learning for Maui’s students.

Education gives us the capacity to look beyond the surface, to understand our universe, ourselves, where we came from, where we are heading. Training offered on Maui through the Akamai Intern Program (page 7), and the applied science and engineering programs at MCC enable local students to obtain hands-on training for the island’s growing high-tech industries.

Understanding our cosmos through education, outreach and involvement are exciting goals for Maui’s high-tech industries and important to sustain our island economy.

The latest turn of economic events has reconfirmed that we shouldn’t keep all our eggs in the tourist-industry basket. Diversification of the economy through high technology can provide the booster rockets we need for our local economy. A rising technological tide will raise all boats.



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