NASA Spinoff

Personal Aircraft Point to the Future of Transportation

In the late 1970s, general aviation (GA) in the United States was experiencing its heyday. In 1978, as many as 18,000 GA aircraft were produced. But only 15 years later, the industry was on the verge of collapse, with fewer than 1,000 aircraft produced in 1993.

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Ducted Fan Designs Lead to Potential New Vehicles

From the myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the Sun on wings made of wax, to the designs Leonardo da Vinci drew of flying machines that mirrored the wing patterns of birds, people have always dreamed of personal flight. In 1903, on a cold December morning in

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Winglets Save Billions of Dollars in Fuel Costs

Anyone who has made a paper airplane knows that folding the wingtips upward makes your plane look better and fly farther, though the reasons for the latter might be a mystery. The next time you snag a window seat on an airline flight, check out the plane’s wing. There

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Sensor Systems Collect Critical Aerodynamics Data

The next time you blow out a candle, watch how the smoke behaves. You will see that it rises first in an even stream. At a certain point, that stream begins to break up into swirls and eddies as the smoke disperses.

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Coatings Extend Life of Engines and Infrastructure

Every time a jet engine is started, it goes through a thermal cycle of extreme temperatures, reaching as high as 2,700 °F within the engine’s combustor. Over time, the expansion and contraction of engine parts caused by this cycle lead to cracking and degradation that shortens an engine’s lifespan

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Tools Lighten Designs, Maintain Structural Integrity

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution While working on designs for a new high-speed aircraft, a group of software engineers at NASA’s Langley Research Center developed a program that helps create lighter weight vehicles, while still maintaining strength and structural integrity. Part of the National Aerospace Plane project, the software was necessary to allow

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Insulating Foams Save Money, Increase Safety

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Researchers at the Advanced Materials and Processing Branch at Langley Research Center created a superior polyimide foam as insulation for reusable cryogenic propellant tanks on the space shuttle. At the time, the foam insulation on the tanks had a limited lifetime: one launch, which did not suit NASA’s

Polyimide Resins Resist Extreme Temperatures

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution Spacecraft and aerospace engines share a common threat: high temperature. The temperatures experienced during atmospheric reentry can reach over 2,000 °F, and the temperatures in rocket engines can reach well over 5,000 °F.

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Sensors Locate Radio Interference

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution While many air travelers are accustomed to rules against electronic devices during takeoff and landing, they might not be aware that these devices are banned because they can cause electromagnetic interference (EMI) with navigation equipment. Because similar problems can occur near launch sites for space missions, NASA began

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Surface Operations Systems Improve Airport Efficiency

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution As part of its research to make air travel safer, NASA began collaborating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2005 to develop what are now called surface traffic management systems (STMS). Both agencies have expressed a need to gather and organize data on airport surface operations, the

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