Benefits Stemming from Space Exploration: ISECG

Benefits Stemming from Space Exploration

More than fifty years of human activity in space have produced societal benefits that improve the quality of life on Earth. The first satellites, designed to study the space environment and test initial capabilities in Earth orbit, contributed critical knowledge and capabilities for developing satellite telecommunications, global positioning, and advances in weather forecasting. Space exploration initiated the economic development of space that today, year after year, delivers high returns for invested funds in space1. The challenges of space exploration have sparked new scientific and technological knowledge of inherent value to humankind, leading to better understanding of our Universe and the solar system in which we live. Knowledge, coupled with ingenuity, provides people around the globe with solutions as well as useful products and services. Knowledge acquired from space exploration has also introduced new perspectives on our individual and collective place in the Universe. Future space exploration goals call for sending humans and robots beyond Low Earth Orbit and establishing sustained access to destinations such as the Moon, asteroids and Mars. Space agencies participating in the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG)2 are discussing an international approach for achieving these goals, documented in ISECG’s Global Exploration Roadmap3. That approach begins with the International Space Station (ISS), and leads to human missions to the surface of Mars. Employing the complementary capabilities of both humans and robotic systems will enable humankind to meet this most ambitious space exploration challenge, and to increase benefits for society. These benefits can be categorized into three fundamental areas: innovation; culture and inspiration; and new means to address global challenges.