NASA Spinoff

NASA Technology

Even under the most unfortunate circumstances, NASA continues on a path of innovation. After the Space Shuttle Columbia reentered the atmosphere on February 1, 2003, it experienced a catastrophic failure, and the entire crew and vehicle were lost. For the two weeks prior to the accident, Columbia STS-107 was on a mission to perform physical, life, and space sciences research in the unique environment of microgravity.

NASA Technology

Successful space missions can rarely be attributed to a single thing. Rather, they are the result of a system of systems: integrated elements functioning effectively in their individual roles and together with related components, then those systems interacting with and supporting other systems to form a collaborative whole—from the spacecraft itself to the engineering and research teams that design and build it.

NASA Technology

Fast forward to 2035. Imagine being part of a community of astronauts living and working on the Moon. Suddenly, in the middle of just another day in space, a meteorite crashes into the surface of the Moon, threatening life as you know it. The support equipment that provides oxygen for the entire community has been compromised. What would you do?

NASA Technology

Have you ever felt nauseous reading a book in the back seat of a car? Or woken from a deep sleep feeling disoriented, unsure which way is up? Momentary mixups like these happen when the sensory systems that track the body’s orientation in space become confused. (In the case of the backseat bookworm, the conflict arises when the reader’s inner ear, part of the body’s vestibular system, senses the car’s motion while her eyes are fixed on the stationary pages of the book.) Conditions like motion sickness are common on Earth, but they also present a significant challenge to astronauts in space.

NASA Technology

As the International Space Station (ISS) travels 17,500 miles per hour, normal is having a constant sensation of free-falling. Normal is no rain, but an extreme amount of shine—with temperatures reaching 250 ˚F when facing the Sun. Thanks to a number of advanced control systems onboard the ISS, however, the interior of the station remains a cool, comfortable, normal environment where astronauts can live and work for extended periods of time.

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

One of the forces that propels scientific and cultural advancement is exploration. The mission of NASA is to pioneer the future of space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. Through this mission, NASA leads the Nation in pushing the boundaries of exploration and discovering new frontiers, and, as a secondary benefit, pushing scientific and cultural advancement.

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Sport fishing is an uncertain pastime. Some days the fish are biting; others, not. But for captains of charter fishing boats and recreational fishermen making the most of a day off from work, returning without a catch is more than just a disappointment—it can have a financial impact as well, from wasted gas to frustrated clients taking their business elsewhere. Thanks to an evolving commercial partnership, oceanic data gathered by NASA satellites is now helping take the guesswork out of finding fishing hotspots.

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

In order for NASA astronauts to explore the solar system, they will need to travel not just as pioneers but as settlers, learning to live off the land. Current mission needs have NASA scientists exploring ways to extract oxygen from the lunar soil and potable water from human wastes. One of the basic goals, however, will be for pioneering space travelers to learn to grow and manage their own crops. This requires the development of space-age greenhouses where astronaut farmers can experiment with harvesting large-scale food crops.

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Beginning in 1968, NASA began researching garments to help astronauts stay cool. The Agency designed the Apollo space suits to use battery-powered pumps to circulate cool water through channels in the inner layers of the garments. This led to commercial cooling vests for patients with heat control disorders (first featured in Spinoff 1979) and for workers in heat stress occupations (featured in Spinoff 1982).

Originating Technology/NASA Contribution

Since designing the first space suits in the 1950s, NASA has been interested in developing materials to keep astronauts comfortable and cool. In order to protect an astronaut from the extreme temperatures in space, engineers at Johnson Space Center created liquid-cooled garments that run water in small channels throughout the suit in what is called an active control system. However, in the 1980s, NASA began to investigate passive control strategies—fabric that could control temperature without pumped liquids—building on work by the U.S. Air Force.

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