Common reasons for exploring space include the advancement of scientific research, national prestige, the union of different nations, the guarantee of the future survival of humanity and the development of military and strategic advantages over other countries. The exploration of space and the innovation that it entails are essential engines for opening up new domains in space science and technology. They drive new partnerships and develop capacities that create new opportunities to address global challenges. The exploration of space also motivates young people to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the STEM disciplines).
This is the objective of the Euclid mission, of which Thales Alenia Space is proud to be the prime contractor on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA). The strong influence that space travel has always had on the imagination may explain why both professional astronauts and laymen accept, at their great risk, as Tom Wolfe said in The Right Stuff (197), to sit “on top of a huge Roman candle, like a Redstone, Atlas, Titan or Saturn rocket”, and wait for someone to light the fuse. Another space application that began under government sponsorship but quickly moved to the private sector is the transmission of voice, video and data through satellites in orbit. The co-chairs of the action team emphasized the importance of the report, which represented the first time that the United Nations had comprehensively examined human and robotic exploration beyond low Earth orbit, and provided a basis for further consideration of how the United Nations system can contribute to a new era of exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
For example, Thales Alenia Space is the prime contractor of ExoMars, one of the main partners in BepiColombo's space exploration mission dedicated to exploring Mercury, and played a key role in the Cassini-Huygens mission to explore Saturn. The full list of all manned space flights, with details on the achievements and crew of each mission, is available in the Timeline of Manned Spaceflight section. All these activities of discovery, scientific understanding and application of that understanding in the service of human purposes are elements of space exploration. Although the advantages and disadvantages of stationing force-delivery weapons in space have been discussed, at the beginning of the 21st century, such weapons had not been deployed, nor had space-based anti-satellite systems, that is, systems that can attack or interfere with satellites in orbit.
NASA will continue its unprecedented work with the commercial industry and will expand an entire industry as private companies develop and operate safe, reliable, and affordable commercial systems for transporting crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station and low Earth orbit. Lagrange points — places in cislunar space where the gravitational influences of the Earth and the Moon cancel each other out — are advantageous areas for exploration and research in which almost no propulsion is required to keep an object or spacecraft stationary. While the precise nature of the future benefits of space exploration is not easily predicted, current trends suggest that significant advantages can be found in areas such as new materials, health and medicine, transportation and information technology. Thanks to space exploration, countless innovations have been possible in sectors ranging from metals and alloys to biology and medicine.
A related, but economically much smaller, commercial space business is the supply of private and government satellite launches. Governments realized early on that the ability to observe the Earth from space could provide significant benefits to the general public, apart from military and security uses. It may also explain why space exploration has been a common and enduring theme in literature and art. .