Friday, April 20, 2012

1,650 reasons to continue NASA Space Program

The Space Shuttle Discovery is now at it's final resting place at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.  It's a sad end to one of the most successful programs in U.S. history.

Many people over the years have complained NASA is a waste of time and money.  Yet I would like to contend the opposite is true.  As a result of the NASA program, there have been over "1,650 documented NASA technologies that have benefited U.S. Industry," according to Daniel Lockey, "NASA's Space Shuttle:  Perspectives on Technology Transfer (1).

One hundred and twenty of the "NASA Spinoffs" have been a direct result of the Space Shuttle Program, which is now extinct.

Look around you wherever you go and you'll see something you can thank NASA for.  Innovations an research for NASA have benefited:
  • Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Communications
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Public Safety
  • Consumer goods
In honor of the NASA program, and in hopes our next president acknowledges the benefits of space research on society. Here is a partial list of NASA spinoffs that benefit us all:
  1. Memory foam (which may be the beds of the future, sports helmets to absorb shock, motor cycle seats, etc.)
  2. Scratch proof lenses for glasses and sunglasses
  3. Smoke detectors
  4. Carbon monoxide detectors
  5. Molded soles for sneakers (from moon boots to improve shock absorption and stability)
  6. Water filters
  7. Paper thin radiant barrier blankets 
  8. Home insulation
  9. Freeze dried food
  10. Air purification systems
  11. Solar screens (for green technology)
  12. Computerized solar water heaters
  13. Emergency lighting systems
  14. Prosthetic limbs
  15. Kidney dialysis 
  16. Physical therapy equipment
  17. Robotic arms used for delicate surgery
  18. MRIs
  19. Ear thermometers
  20. Invisible braces
  21. Blood analysis
  22. Heart pumps  (based on Shuttle fuel pump technology)
  23. LED cancer therapy
  24. Therapeutic drugs and antibiotics
  25. GPS
  26. Weather monitoring systems
  27. Panoramic imaging systems to improve photography and video imaging
  28. Low light technologies to improve photography and video imaging
  29. Sensitive infared cameras used to detect forest fires
  30. Cool suits to protect people from heat and treat some medical conditions 
  31. Demolition explosives to take down unsafe buildings and bridges
  32. Monitors to detect gases
  33. Monitors to detect mechanical failures
  34. Monitors to detect changes in air pressure
  35. Robots that can be used to enter potentially unsafe environments and detect danger
  36. Jaws of life
  37. Superelastic golf club technology to allow golfers to hit the ball farther
  38. Satellite television
  39. Google Earth
  40. Virtual Reality
  41. CAT scans
  42. Breast Cancer Screening
  43. Ultrasound to detect skin damage (used in burn units)
  44. Attention getters used to improve attention spans of  kids with ADHD was created by equipment used to monitor brain activity of astronauts
  45. Safer roads created by technology needed to make runway safer for space shuttle (traffic accidents have been cut by 85% since new technology applied to U.S. roadways.
  46. Improved radial tyres created by Good Year (made of material five times stronger than steel to help use in parachutes to land Viking explorers on Mars)
  47. Landmine removal equipment
  48. Ribbed swimsuits
  49. Aerodynamic golfballs
  50. Personal alarm systems used by the elderly to call for help
  51. Space pens that do not depend on gravity
  52. Cordless power tools
  53. Insulation barriers to protect cars and trucks and dampen engine and exhaust noise
  54. Biodegradable lubricant used for cars and sporting goods
  55. Video stabilization software (used to clarify launch video now used to clean up crime scene video)
  56. Improved ventilator technology
  57. Technology to convert gas vehicles to hybrids
  58. Advisory systems to same time and fuel for airlines
  59. Computerized solar water heaters save energy
  60. Cryogenic liquid methane tanks store aircraft fuel
  61. Emergency and night lighting systems save energy
  62. Wire and rod grounding systems prevent corrosion
  63. Negative pressure techniques relieve respiratory distress in infants
  64. Radioactive waste disposal
  65. etc.  
If you can think of more please list them in the comments below.

References:
  1. Lockney, Daniel, "NASA's Space Shuttle:  Perspectives on Technology Transfer" ( AIAA SPACE 2010 Conference & Exposition (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics)0 August - 2 September 2010, Anaheim, California
  2. Phillips, Martin, "What has NASA ever done for us?" The Sun, http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/1752963/Top-25-things-NASA-has-done-National-Aeronautics-And-Space-Administration-celebrates-50th-anniversary.html, accessed April 19, 2012
  3. Spinoff.NASA.gov, "Spinoff," http://spinoff.nasa.gov/, accessed April 20, 2012

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