Company NewsMarch 21, 2019

NASA: What humanity’s time in space can teach us?

The great Archimedes is said to have boasted to King Hiero that if he were given a lever and a place to stand, he could move the Earth.
Avatar Charles F. Bolden Jr.

The great Archimedes, one of the forefathers of both modern astronomy and invention, is said to have boasted to King Hiero that if he were given a lever and a place to stand, he could move the Earth. The king called his bluff, giving Archimedes the assignment of launching a beached ship. Undaunted, Archimedes devised a system of levers, fulcrums and pulleys that allowed him to move the ship with only his own strength.

Human innovation is the story of dreamers and doers who have found ways to move heaven and earth – or, in the case of space exploration, to move beyond heaven and Earth – thanks not only to formulas, experiments and equations, but also to imagination, creativity and collaboration. It is the story of dreaming up ideas that seem beyond the realm of possibility and then actually doing them.

Our concept of reality is being expanded every day by people who refuse to be limited by it. More than two thousand years after Archimedes “moved the Earth,” a team of his progeny created a game-changing laboratory off the Earth’s surface. The International Space Station (ISS) is a marvel of human engineering and innovation, providing humanity with a stepping stone to the rest of the galaxy – including Mars, where NASA plans to send astronauts in the 2030s. The ISS is a place where astronauts work off Earth for the benefit of Earth on breakthroughs that are fueling scientific advances and benefiting our quality of life, our health, and the health of the water we drink and the air we breathe.

The station is, quite literally, the stuff of dreams: an orbiting laboratory massive enough to fill the length and width of an entire football field. It is larger than a conventional six-bedroom house, and it travels the equivalent distance of Earth to the moon in just about a day. It has been visited by more than 200 different human beings.

Amazingly, this space station was assembled not within the borders of any one country – but actually in space! It is the product of more than a decade of assembly: 41 space assembly missions comprising portions of more than 115 space flights conducted on five different types of launch vehicles, plus more imagination and human ingenuity than we can quantify. Its on-orbit software monitors approximately 350,000 sensors. In the US segment alone, 1.5 million lines of flight software code run on 44 computers communicating via 100 data networks to transfer 400,000 signals.

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