One former NASA astronaut’s view on what is next in space exploration

As the world of aerospace continues to expand to include private companies that are now able to send people into orbit, space tech can help life on Earth. The advancement of space and medical technology is something orthopedic surgeon, oncologist, chemical engineer, and astronaut, Robert Satcher knows about first hand.

“A lot of the imaging technology we use on cancer patients: MRI, CT Scans owe part of that technology to what was developed at NASA,” Satcher said during a conversation with PBS NewsHour’s Nicole Ellis. From modern day aircrafts, to cell phones, and video chatting services like Zoom and Skype that have become surrogates for human connection during a global pandemic, solutions initially sought to make interplanetary travel and communication possible are now integral parts of everyday life, Satcher said.

Watch the interview with Robert Satcher in the live player above.

The aerospace industry has become more commercially accessible in the years since Satcher’s NASA Mission to space in 2009. Non-astronauts can now visit space on privately owned and operated space ships through companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin. “It’s a good time to be a human being because, you know, these things are starting to open up and everybody is going to be able, or more people at least are going to be able to see what it’s like to be in space,” Satcher said.

Despite companies like SpaceX setting its sights on building human settlements on Mars, our journey towards becoming a multi-planet species is in its infancy. Scientists are still figuring out how to make the 3-year journey survivable. However, one of the more significant developments in commercial space exploration is affordability by creating reusable spacecrafts.

Another crucial part of development over the years has been the diversifying of the aerospace field, while still slow, Satcher said that having people of different trades, genders, ethnicities and backgrounds will be an essential part of making our galaxy more accessible to humans. “No particular group has a monopoly on either perspective or capability. So you got to get all of these different perspectives and everything to to really maximize what you get in terms of development and research and technical advancement,” he said.