Since the beginning of recorded time, humanity has been fascinated by what lies beyond our atmosphere. The pursuit of space travel and understanding space phenomena has spurred many theories and works of fiction. More significantly, these efforts have inspired the development of other-worldly technologies.
The value that space innovation has created here on Earth is immeasurable. From cellular data and hurricane predictions to robotics and health science, many aspects of our lives are made significantly easier, more efficient, or more enjoyable thanks to the breakthroughs made in space exploration and utilization.
Even with the advancements in various technologies and a growing global economy, the future of human development still hangs on many societal challenges. In an effort to address those challenges, the United Nations has issued the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This agenda is founded on 17 specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 associated targets to improve and implement sustainable actions and policies that will enhance the outlook of climate change, human impact, and stability for future generations.
The United Nations is looking toward space technology and innovation to support these SDGs. This reliance is a significant indicator of just how much potential space technology has to improve our lives and the future of the very planet we live on. Each of the SDGs outlined by the UN can be used to illustrate how space development is beneficial to the planet.
Climate action is one of the most obvious and pressing issues primarily driven by space innovation. More than 100 satellites have been launched to monitor, track and predict climate patterns and changes. As climate change becomes increasingly impactful on every continent, space technologies continue to play a critical role in monitoring and managing its effects.
Space innovation is a key component in climate change monitoring, weather forecasting and disaster management, including search and rescue operations. With the space data being collected and interpreted regarding climate change, we can leverage our best opportunities to mitigate its acceleration and keep a close eye on the progress made in either direction.
In that same grain, efforts to pursue affordable and clean energy are also a derivative of technology designed for space science. These intelligent tools help us monitor energy networks and infrastructure, power grid synchronization, and identify optimal sites for the production of renewable energy. Sustainable energy has the potential to transform lives, economies and the planet, yet there is still so much work to be done.
Space technologies also serve the human quest for good health and well-being. This future-focused goal addresses all major health priorities, from communicable diseases to universal healthcare. Satellite imaging, robotics and bioscience developed for space travel have also provided health-related solutions for mankind.
Health applications that implement space technology include epidemiology, vision, cognition, and disability issues. Satellites can also monitor health-related data like air quality or commercial issues such as space traffic. Wearable devices once created for astronauts now help us track our workouts, the quality of our sleep, and even our social life. Properly applied these devices can help with health promotion and disease prevention. And, of course, remote and mobile healthcare wouldn’t be possible without a ubiquitous global satellite communication capability.
One of the UN’s greatest hopes is that the technology adapted from space innovation can help reduce the number of people below the poverty line by helping to steer direct support to those in need. In that same direction, these technologies are powerful agents in resolving world hunger issues and clean water access and sanitization.