From racing on your computer in real-time against real Formula One drivers, to improving your football game, to letting you know when a day at the beach will turn into a day at home watching TV, space technology has vastly changed the way we spend our free time.
If you don’t know how to get to your ski pista, you search for it on Google maps or put it in your Dutch Tom Tom. If you don’t know where to have a nice meal in a new town, not only can you look up reviews online, you can get walking directions – and all of this potentially with your telephone. If you are simply staying in for a day, your TV uses telecom satellites and so do your telephone and your internet.
Organizing a barbeque? You can look up what the weather will be like and choose a good day, or even know that over an hour you’ll have to bring the cushions inside for 5 minutes, but that the rain cloud will pass. If you’re a sports fan, you might or might not be happy to hear that Dutch football team PSV Eindhoven paired up with TNO to develop a space age training system that constantly tracks player positions during practice. Special shirts send GPS signals out and coaches can see what happened with extreme accuracy and determine how to further optimize play. Space technology also has potential not only for other football teams, but also for other sports, so whatever team or sport you like, space technology will be there.
For race car enthusiasts, the chance to race live against the pros has been made possible by space. At the exact moment the A1 Grand Prix or Formula One are occuring far away, GPS links with the cars allow you to race against real drivers in real time – a concept that had its start in the Netherlands. If you like to be active yourself a GPS locator can help your family track you as you participate in the Vierdaagse Nijmegen or even help you track your distance and speed.
As the first tweets from International Space Station are posted on Twitter, it’s worth a pause to think of the time as the Apollo missions went behind the Moon when no one on Earth could contact them in any way. And that was little over 40 years ago.