That huge orbiting laboratory

Published December 14, 2015

Earth and moon

It’s a big responsibility and an honor to work in that huge orbiting laboratory.

Figuring out how to support life in the hostile environment of space has resulted in thousands of down-to-earth spin-offs, from temperature-regulating underwear to heart pumps that rely on Shuttle fuel-pump technology. The concrete benefits and by-products of the science we do in space have touched fields from agriculture to medicine to robotics. Data gathered on the Shuttle and ISS help power Google Maps; experiments with different dietary and exercise protocols have revealed how to ward off, permanently, one debilitating type of osteoporosis; the robotic machinery now used inside the parts of nuclear power plants that are too hazardous for humans is a direct descendent of Canadarm: the list goes on and on.

A lot of times the work isn’t glamorous, but that’s okay. The workplace itself is, after all, in a pretty great location.

Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

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