Institute of Adaptive & Spaceflight Physiology
 Graz, Austria
Institut für Adaptive und Raumfahrtphysiologie

Why Space?

The high cost of human space flight is often used as an argument to call for a different use of resources. But by comparison to other fields of investment, only a small part of the taxpayer’s money is spent on space flight. Spending money on space flight is an investment into the future because of the humanitarian, scientific, cultural and technical significance involved. Space flight opens the door to new perspectives, it presents superb challenges and fosters innovations in numerous fields.

The cost of the ISS, including development, assembly and running costs over a period of at least 10 years, is shared over a period of almost 30 years between all the ISS participants: The United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and 10 of the 15 European nations who are part of ESA. The European share amounts to approximately the price of one cup of coffee
per year per European citizen.

There is a deeper dimension to all this. Looking down from orbit at the only known life-supporting spacecraft in the Universe -- our Earth -- best helps us to realize our responsibility for life on Earth, and stimulates the wish to protect it. This emotion is the starting point for innovations to better understand and protect our ecosystem ('Earth does not have an emergency exit' - B. Lötsch). And the issue of life support during long-term missions is far from being solved, as evidenced by the many problems that surfanced during the Biosphere-2 endeavour.

Astronauts get the chance to see our planet from an outside point of view, as a precious ecosystem within the huge dimensions of space that might quickly be destroyed by human activity. In fact, astronauts having experienced this kind of emotion, change their way of thinking and living (Overview-Effect). Earth is home to every one of us, and every single one of us shares the responsibility for our common home. 

Space life sciences creates important ideas and concepts in the context of life within Biomes and Biospheres, its exploration, understanding and protection. It also sets the stage for scenarios of making our neighbor in the Solar system a life-supporting planet, ­ i.e., to terraform Mars, and possibly other heavenly bodies as well, in centuries to come. There is hardly a more challenging peaceful mission for mankind that could be imagined for the future of humankind.