NASA Spinoff

Innovative Tools Advance Revolutionary Weld Technique

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution The iconic, orange external tank of the space shuttle launch system not only contains the fuel used by the shuttle’s main engines during liftoff but also comprises the shuttle’s “backbone,” supporting the space shuttle orbiter and solid rocket boosters. Given the tank’s structural importance and the extreme forces


Methods Reduce Cost, Enhance Quality of Nanotubes

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution For all the challenges posed by the microgravity conditions of space, weight is actually one of the more significant problems NASA faces in the development of the next generation of U.S. space vehicles. For the Agency’s Constellation Program, engineers at NASA centers are designing and testing new vessels


Gauging Systems Monitor Cryogenic Liquids

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Rocket fuel needs to stay cool—super cool, in fact. The ability to store gas propellants like liquid hydrogen and oxygen at cryogenic temperatures (below -243 °F) is crucial for space missions in order to reduce their volumes and allow their storage in smaller (and therefore, less costly) tanks.


Voltage Sensors Monitor Harmful Static

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Anyone who has ever experienced an unpleasant jolt from a doorknob after shuffling across the carpet on a dry morning knows that static electricity—also known as triboelectric charging—can be a nuisance. However, many computer enthusiasts are too familiar with how built-up triboelectricity can actually cause major problems when


Compact Instruments Measure Heat Potential

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Without the insulating protection of Earth’s atmosphere, orbiting space shuttles, space stations, and satellites are subject to thermal damage from radiation. This damage varies with different orbital parameters, solar activity, and the vehicle’s angle to the Sun, so these external surfaces must be designed to resist degradation and


NASA Innovation Builds Better Nanotubes

Originating Technology/NASA ContributionOne of the basic nanotechnology structures, the carbon nanotube, is a graphite sheet one atomic layer thick that is wrapped on itself to create an extraordinarily thin, strong tube. Although carbon nanotubes were discovered more than 15 years ago, their use has been limited due to the complex,

Polyimide Boosts High-Temperature Performance

Originating Technology/NASA ContributionPolyimides are a class of polymers notable for chemical, wear, radiation, and temperature resistance, characteristics that have led to applications as diverse as aerospace engine housings and electronics packaging. Other applications include electronics, ranging from insulation for flexible cables to use as a high-temperature adhesive in the semiconductor

NASA Design Strengthens Welds

Originating Technology/NASA ContributionThe Welding Institute (TWI), a nonprofit professional organization based out of the United Kingdom and devoted to the industry of joining materials, engineering, and allied technologies, developed a novel form of welding in the 1990s. Friction stir welding (FSW), the name under which it was patented, has been

Portable Device Analyzes Rocks and Minerals

Originating Technology/NASA ContributionBuilding on the success of the two rover geologists that arrived on Mars in January 2004, NASA’s next rover mission is being planned for travel to the Red Planet before the end of the decade. Twice as long and three times as heavy as the Mars Exploration Rovers,

Sensors Increase Productivity in Harsh Environments

Originating Technology/NASA ContributionA team of scientists at Glenn Research Center, operating under the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Aviation Safety and Fundamental Aeronautics programs, developed a series of technologies for testing aircraft engine combustion chambers. The team, led by electronics engineer Dr. Robert Okojie, designed a packaging technique and chip fabrication


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