NASA showcases ‘spinoff’ technologies

February 9, 2012 By Ray Sanders, Universe Today
NASA showcases ‘spinoff’ technologies
Orbital Technologies Corporation developed vortex combustion technology representing a new approach to rocket engine design. Orbital’s NASA work led to advancements in fire suppression systems. Credit: NASA/HMA Fire.

Contrary to popular belief, Tang, Velcro and Teflon (along with the zero-gravity “space” pen) aren’t derived from NASA technology. NASA has, however, developed numerous technologies over the years, which are featured in annual “Spinoff” reports. Yes, “memory” foam mattresses are in fact one such product developed from NASA technologies.

NASA’s latest Spinoff edition features over forty of NASA’s most innovative technologies. The origins of each technology within NASA missions are provided, as well as their “spinoff” to the public as commercial products and/or technologies beneficial to society.

What new technologies have made their way this year from NASA labs and into our homes?

Generally, NASA spinoff technologies have proven useful in health and medicine, transportation, public safety, and consumer goods. Additional benefits from NASA spinoff technology can be found in the environment, information technology, and industrial productivity sectors. Experience has shown that these NASA technologies can help stimulate the economy and create new jobs and businesses in the private sector.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden states, “This year’s Spinoff demonstrates once again how through productive and innovative partnerships, NASA’s aerospace research brings real returns to the American people in the form of tangible products, services and new jobs. For 35 years, Spinoff has been the definitive resource for those who want to learn how space exploration benefits life on Earth.”

A few highlights from NASA’s “Spinoff 2011″ include:

• A new firefighting system, influenced by a NASA-derived rocket design that extinguishes fires more quickly than traditional systems, saving lives and property.

• Software employing NASA-invented tools to help commercial airlines fly shorter routes and help save millions of gallons of fuel each year, reducing costs to airlines while benefiting the environment.

• A fitness monitoring technology developed with the help of NASA expertise that, when fitted in a strap or shirt, can be used to measure and record vital signs. The technology is now in use to monitor the health of professional athletes and members of the armed services.

• An emergency response software tool that can capture, analyze and combine data into maps, charts and other information essential to disaster managers responding to events such as wildfires, floods or Earthquakes. This technology can save millions of dollars in losses from disasters and, more importantly, can help save lives when tragedy strikes.

The 2011 spinoff report also includes a special section celebrating commercial technologies derived from NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. Additionally, NASA lists spinoff technologies based on the construction of the International Space Station and work aboard the station. One other section in the report outlines potential benefits of NASA’s future investments.

“NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist has more than a thousand projects underway that will create new knowledge and capabilities, enabling NASA’s future missions,” NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck adds. “As these investments mature, we can expect new, exciting spinoff technologies transferring from NASA to the marketplace, providing real returns on our investments in innovation.”

Explore further: NASA adds technologies Web feature

More information: If you’d like to learn more about NASA’s “Spinoff” program, visit: spinoff.nasa.gov/

Curious about what NASA technologies affect your daily life? Visit: www.nasa.gov/city

Related Stories

NASA adds technologies Web feature

February 26, 2008

The U.S. space agency has added an interactive program to its Web site, allowing users to discover some of the space technologies that now impact daily life.

Creating green aviation technology

March 31, 2011

"Green" research has become a burgeoning field at NASA, and Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., is definitely on board. Scientists, engineers and researchers at Ames conduct a variety of green projects in relation ...

SpaceX pushes for mission to space station on next flight

July 27, 2011

NASA and SpaceX have “technically” agreed to allow the Dragon capsule to dock with the International Space Station this fall, according to SpaceX’s Twitter feed. The Dragon capsule is currently – and tentatively ...

Good and bad news comes with NASA’s 2012 budget

December 1, 2011

On November 14, President Obama signed an Appropriations bill that solidified NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2012. The space agency will get $17.8 billion. That’s $648 million less than last year’s funding and ...

NASA looking for more space taxis

February 8, 2012

NASA is looking for more ways to get astronauts to the International Space Station. The space agency put out a call today for commercial space companies to submit bids as part of the latest round of the Commercial Crew Program, ...

Recommended for you

Astronomers detect the farthest galaxy yet with Keck telescope

September 4, 2015

A team of Caltech researchers that has spent years searching for the earliest objects in the universe now reports the detection of what may be the most distant galaxy ever found. In an article published August 28, 2015 in Astrophysical ...

"Hedgehog" robots hop, tumble in microgravity

September 4, 2015

Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can't operate upside-down. But ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

coryatjohn
1 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2012
If NASA is trying to justify their existence by the nature of and usefulness of spin-off's, then they are in trouble.

NASA and manned space are at a end. The future lies in private, commercial ventures partially supported by government subsidies.
antialias_physorg
1 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2012
I do think NASA is important, but when they argue like this
providing real returns on our investments in innovation.

that's walking out on thin ice.

Returns of (unspecified) 'millions' at an annual budget of 19 billion is NOT "providing return on investment" by any standard.

That said: NASA's job is not to provide return on investment. So that is not what they should be measured by.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.