15 July 2009, 18:46

Huge expenditure for space exploration justified

Another attempt to launch the space shuttle Endeavour will be taken in Florida on Wednesday. The start has been postponed five times owing to bad weather and fuel leaks. The delay costs one and a half million dollars a day, while the shuttle’s flight costs hundreds of millions of dollars.

shuttle Endeavour/photo EPA Another attempt to launch the space shuttle Endeavour will be taken in Florida on Wednesday. The start has been postponed five times owing to bad weather and fuel leaks.

The delay costs one and a half million dollars a day, while the shuttle’s flight costs hundreds of millions of dollars. However, these sums are incomparable to dozens of billions of dollars spent for the creation of the most expensive orbital facility, International Space Station. The assembling of the ISS from modules launched into the orbit was started in 1998 after 11 countries, Russia, the US, Canada, Japan and European countries, signed an agreement on the creation of the station. The ISS has been designed as a laboratory to conduct experiments in biology, physics, astronomy and meteorology, which could not be carried out on the ground. None of these countries can built such a laboratory independently. Mankind coordinates their efforts to understand the world surrounding us, says two-time Hero of the Soviet Union, cosmonaut Alexander Alexanderov:

“Alexander Alexanderov says experimental set up, putting a satellite into orbit, carrying out long space flights and sending probes to interplanetary or interstellar space are links of a single chain. Studying environment around a person includes studying earth from outer space, space around other planets and interstellar space”, said Alexander Alexanderov.

In fact, all this is done not for mere curiosity or for the sake of experiments. For one, cosmonauts study combustion on board the ISS although it has been known from ancient times. If the results of the experiments on board the ISS widen our knowledge of combustion this may lead to the appearance of more perfect power stations that consume less fuel and pollute the environment to a low level. In short, this will help saving millions of tons of fuel and achieving clean environment. Another experiment is aimed at developing a superconductor at normal temperature. Such an invention may affect electrical engineering area radically.

An important achievement is satellite navigation system. Today, it’s impossible to think of sea or land journeys and expeditions, drawing up maps and laying routes without this system.

The role of space programmes grows with the developments in science, search for new sources of energy and need for warning and elimination of global disasters. Mankind has started to glance at the consequences of human activity at a global level. And it is ready to pay a high price for these programmes.

Boris Pavlishev


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