The term “aerospace” first came into use in 1958. That was the beginning of the American quest to explore outer space. In January of that year, the U.S. launched its first satellite, Explorer 1, into low-earth-orbit.

In May of 1961, Alan Shepherd became first American to enter space. The Russians were the first to achieve this milestone with the flight of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. He left the earth’s atmosphere in April of 1961.

The origins of the aerospace industry can be said to have begun with the flight of the Wright Flyer in 1903. That was the first airplane built by Orville and Wilbur Wright. It’s astonishing to note that it would be just 66 years later when flight technology advanced sufficiently to place two men in the moon on July 20, 1969.

Aerospace in the combination of the “aero” which stands for “air” or “atmospheric” flight and space which denotes travel outside or above the atmosphere of the planet.

Today, the aerospace industry is among the largest of any kind of industry in the world. Furthermore, the breadth and scope of the aerospace industry has had an incredible effect on producing spin-off industries. That is, the technologies that were developed to support space flight found numerous applications in literally thousands of earth-bound sectors, from medical and computer technology to materials applications and even food packaging.

Since the 1960s, NASA has maintained that for every $1 spent on the space budget, $8 has been returned to the general economy. That makes investment in space science and travel among the most beneficial enterprises in world history.

One of the ways that happens is through so-called spin-off technology. Here is just a short list of items that were made possible thanks to original research and design by NASA:

* Memory foam

* Freeze-dried food

* Cochlear implants

* Dust busters

* MRI machines

* Light emitting diodes

* Scratch resistant lenses

… and that’s just a few of thousands.

The advancement in computer technology alone that resulted from system developed by NASA translates to trillions of dollars for the global economy.

Consider also the supreme importance of satellite technology. Space-based imaging platforms revolutionized our ability to accurately predict the weather, locate new ground-based resources and make things like smartphone and global-wide internet access a common feature of daily life.