ESA Columbus Essay Contest winner - Daniela Petrova
The value of human spaceflight for European citizens
That is the value of human
Spaceflight for the European?
Some people perhaps feel detached
From the human spaceflight touch,
Perhaps because they have not been
To the heights beyond our atmospheric screen,
Perhaps because they have not touched
A rocket or its launching pad,
Perhaps because they have never thought
How much we owe to this field wrought.
Yet despite it all, each and every one of us,
Has benefited from this research thus,
Lets remind ourselves in brief
Why we value the human spaceflight leitmotif.
There are benefits innumerable: the societal,
Multi-national, cultural, environmental...
Research, health and education,
Technology, business and innovation.
We value all the things
That would eliminate poverty, disease
And lead to world peace.
So when we look so closely,
At the common values we hold mostly,
It is possible to see revealed
That all our actions in this field
Have led to the improvement rife
For better living standards and quality of life.
Before recounting in more detail
There is a drop of history to feel.
Without the numerous inventors
That have given us the transportation by land, sea and air favours,
The engines and mechanics
On which such as Karl Benz and Felix du Temple worked despite the skeptics;
If it was not for the aspiration to the Moon
In Jules Verne’s De la Terre à la Lune
or Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata’s passion,
Then where would be our inspiration?!
Following our lengthy history
Of exploration and glory
In the post-Apollo mission,
Which made reality out of fiction,
ESA significantly contributed
In Spacelab and subsequently distributed
Work to many an European astronaut
From Thomas Reiter to Ulf Merbold
Moulding the European future
As a leading human spaceflight figure.
Today, with permanent human occupation
Aboard the International Space Station
We have had, still do and will, the opportunity
To utilize the unique conditions of microgravity.
Now to mention more specifically,
The value for our society and industry.
The European Commission rightfully recognized the potential
For economic growth, jobs and industry as essential
In the contribution to international cooperation,
Political and industrial cohesion, and multicultural integration.
With increasing international coordinations
And growing peace between nations
There will be military resource translocation
From the army towards peaceful space exploration.
Human spaceflight has an important action
In all of the above and education.
Not only in scientific principle demonstration
But also in fundamental inspiration,
Offering the future generation
A role-model for aspiration.
Consequently, there have been developed
Education projects that have enveloped
European students in science,
Mathematics, languages and art brilliance
As well as parabolic flights
That will lift them to new heights.
After many decades of human spaceflight experience
We have moved beyond adventure
To acting as a technological aider.
Extraterrestrial research has allowed us to explore
Theories of relativity and origins of life closer
Thanks to Earth observation and successful navigation
Disasters are averted between planes, ships and transportation
Weather prediction and communication
Have allowed emergency evacuation
Avoiding the consequences of natural disasters and loses.
Laser-cooled atomic clock developments
Allow for new, ultra precise measurements
While studies in Interactions
Between Cosmic and Atmospheric Particle Systems
Allow better understanding of pollutants and cloud formation
For future successful manipulation.
Astronauts have played a crucial part to date
To observe, interpret, adjust and update
Experiments for a successful mission,
Which with only robots would go without completion.
Human space exploration
Also provides a unique occasion
For testing interactions
between robotics and humans.
The European Robotic Arm marks a new ERA
Of amplified human strength of a new gear.
The extreme space environment
Has led to the development
Of many high performance materials
For golf clubs, artificial hips and Shuttles
High in insulation, durability
Corrosion and weight stability.
Further valuable spin-offs being
In construction and engineering
Providing better insulation
Air conditioning and water purification
Which is as readily applicable to business centres
As to Third World countries and remote sectors.
Increasing environmental awareness
Has led to questioning of process and resource
Utilisation, so that the closed loop system
Has become a primary concern.
Human spaceflight research
Has led to as much
As seventy percent success
In recycling excess.
Regeneration of air and clean water
With some food production (even better)
Will be applicable in any extreme
Or closed environment for many
Whether in remote Antarctica, Africa, Sahara
Further than Mars, in a submarine, plane or tundra.
In addition, human spaceflight
Has helped develop new medicines to fight
Negative physiologic adaptations
Both in space and for Earth’s millions.
Portable and automated devices
Lead to new diagnostic choices
For cardiovascular disease
To prevent its incipient malice;
The ESA Flywheel Exercise Device
Offers new rehabilitation and athletics exercise
While Euromir-95 mission’s ‘Osteospace’
Offers a safe ultrasound alternative to X-rays;
Ophthalmological and neurological examination
Has benefited from the VOG and 3D-eye tracker detection;
Respiratory Gas Analysers
Efficiently predict disfunctions,
And ultraviolet protection is now available
For children with Xerodema Pigmentosum,
While the Mamagoose suite preserves the breath
Of babies from cot death.
Such remarkable scientific advances,
Due to human spaceflight rises,
Have led to increasing numbers
Of European centarians.
Like a feedforward reaction
Human spaceflight attraction
Returns its investment many times over
By preventing disease or early death after.
The saved money in return
Can be used for a further space concern
So it becomes cheaper and cheaper
To carry out missions in our favour.
The value of human spaceflight until now is unquestionable
And with Columbus’ laboratory it will grow increasingly valuable.
Beyond the low Earth orbit
The future holds a further field,
That of explorations,
Of new worlds and destinations:
Initially to the Moon, Mars and Europa
Then to satellites and planets much further.
For there are many promises in the lands around us
Ice and water, stones and precious dust,
Like Helium-3, which will likely provide,
In future, clean and efficient energy might.
Our planet is like a rocky island
Suspended by an invisible hand
Into an ocean of space
Within which there are paths to trace.
Like Columbus and many others,
Who ventured across unprecedented expanses
And braved unknown perils
So that we may conquer the riddles,
Like the tamers of the land and sea
We tame the values in air and space we see!
Last update: 14 November 2007