NASA has provided a great deal of information on the question of
benefits to society. For example, here is a page on benefits from the
Space Shuttle, including accurate topographical maps of the Earth, a
miniaturized ventricular-assist pump based in part on shuttle fuel
pumps, and aircraft control systems for the Boeing 777.
"Space Shuttle Benefits" (updated 08/17/2004)
NASA Human Space Flight
NASA has compiled a list of resources, including web pages, on
benefits of space exploration:
"Benefits of Space Exploration" (revised July 2001)
NASA even has a site devoted to "spinoffs" from its programs, akin to
the page that omnivorous has cited. This site includes a searchable
database of spinoffs.
NASA Scientific and Technical Information
For an extended discussion in the mid-1990s of the benefits of space
"What is the Value of Space Exploration?: A Symposium (July 18-19, 1994)
NASA Center for Mars Exploration
Search strategy --
Searched on Google for:
site:nasa.gov velcro benefit [Note: I learned in this research that
Velcro was not developed by NASA as I had thought.]
site:nasa.gov "value of space"
site:nasa.gov "benefits of space"