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September 8, 1978

Health-related spin-offs of space exploration

JAMA. 1978;240(11):1119-1125. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290110017002

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Leonardo da Vinci might have forecast a future that included airplanes, for he was known to have designed flying machines modeled after birds. Copernicus, who reasoned that the earth is a moving planet, might have speculated that ships could fly between the planets and beyond the solar system at speeds approaching the velocity of light. But these pioneers of the 1500s had no appropriate engines, computers, or technology with which to work. Nor did they know what space was composed of or how fast light traveled, if indeed it did.

Now that the space age is reality, with shuttles and other new space vehicles on the horizon, there is a new renaissance. More significant treasures may lie ahead, although the benefits of space exploration to such fields as industry and medicine are already vast.

A number of reasons exist for going into space. Among them are these:

  • To orbit satellites