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The Risks, Dangers and Issues of Space Exploration. Section 4.1 and 4.3. The Risks and Dangers of Space Travel. From cancer treatments and pacemakers, to Teflon and flat-screen televisions, the technological benefits created by space research are now everywhere in our daily lives.

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The risks and dangers of space travel
The Risks and Dangers of Space Travel

  • From cancer treatments and pacemakers, to Teflon and flat-screen televisions, the technological benefits created by space research are now everywhere in our daily lives.

  • At the same time, the study of space has made us aware of the many hazards that lie beyond Earth’s protective atmosphere and the dangers of manned space travel.

Many dangers of manned space travel
Many Dangers of Manned Space Travel

  • Strapped into a small cockpit with several hundred tonnes of highly explosive fuel

  • Poor weather conditions, malfunctioning equipment and even birds or Styrofoam can be a danger

  • Outside Earth’s atmosphere, solar and cosmic radiation can burn up equipment or damage human organs and bone marrow.

  • Re-entry must be perfect: too shallow an angle and you bounce of earth’s atmosphere (like a rock on a pond); too steep and you move to quickly and burn up

Space junk
Space Junk

  • Another legacy of human presence in space is “Space Junk”

    • Pieces of debris that have fallen off rockets, satellites, space shuttles and space stations and remain floating in space.

    • Includes small flecks of paint, loose bolts, dead satellites, lost antennas, lost cameras, etc.

  • This space garbage can stay in orbit for thousands of years

  • So who put it up there??

Space junk1
Space Junk

  • A small washer or screw may sound insignificant but remember they are moving at over 20 000 km/h!

  • Even the smallest object moving at these speeds would be devastating.

  • Most space junk will burn up if it passes through Earth’s atmosphere, but until it does, it is a very real threat to anyone or anything travelling in space

  • But what about on Earth??

    • In January 1978, a nuclear powered Soviet satellite crashed into the Great Slave Lake area of the NWT.

    • On re-entry it disintegrated showering radioactive debris over 124 000 km2. No one died, but the clean-up took eight months and cost $15 million (Cd.)

Space junk webquest
Space Junk WebQuest

Issues related to space exploration
Issues Related to Space Exploration

  • Debate rages over the money, time and resources spent on sending equipment and people into space.

  • Some people argue there are so many problems on earth to be solved (poverty, hunger, pollution, epidemics) – the money should go towards relieving suffering on own planet

  • Other argue that we learn by exploring and it could help us find ways of improving life on Earth. Also as our population continues to grow, technology is allowing scientists to look for resources elsewhere.

Are space resources valuable
Are Space Resources Valuable?

  • Yes!!

    • One 200 000 t asteroid would yield more than $350 billion worth of mineral resources

    • If materials for making space vehicles, supplies and fuel were found in space – we wouldn’t have to spend the money to get them up there

    • Moon rock can be used to make hydrogen and oxygen – which could be used for life support and to make water

Some of the pros
Some of the PROS…

  • Right now, America’s human space flight programs cost around $7 billion a year. That’s pennies per person per day. In 2006, according to the USDA, Americans spent more than $154 billion on alcohol. We spend around $10 billion a month in Iraq. And so on.

  • Studying humans living in the microgravity of space has expanded our understanding of osteoporosis and balance disorders, and has led to new treatments.

  • Observing Earth has provided G.P.S., meteorological forecasts, predictions and management of hurricanes and other natural disasters, and global monitoring of the environment, as well as surveillance and intelligence.

  • Satellite communications have changed life and business practices with computer operations, cell phones, global banking, and TV

  • The debate rages
    The Debate Rages…

    • Think of how you would answer the following questions:

    • Who owns space?

    • Who will determine how space is used?

    • Do we have a right to alter materials in space to meet our needs?

    • Who is responsible for protecting space environments?

    • Who is responsible for cleaning up space junk and who should pay for it?

    Videos dangers of space travel
    Videos: Dangers of Space Travel

    • The Challenger, 1986

    • Columbia, 2003