We wanted NASA Tech Briefs readers to be a part of our special issue celebrating NASA's 50th anniversary. So, we asked you to tell us how NASA, and NASA Tech Briefs, have inspired you over the past 50 years. We wanted to know how NASA helped you in your career or business, or improved your everyday life. What benefits have you derived from NASA technologies?

Although space prohibits publishing every comment here, we thank all of you who shared your stories of inspiration with us.

When I was 6 years old I stood on the observation tower at Cape Canaveral and watched Apollo 13 blast off. The astronauts of my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood were my heroes. I graduated with a degree in aerospace engineering in 1986. Watching the technical marvels that defined NASA unfold over the years inspired me to become the best engineer I could be. I was privileged to be a NASA engineer at Lewis Research Center in the early 90s working for the benefit of all mankind.

-Bonnie Kee-Bowling, Minneapolis, MN

I was just a kid when NASA started. I remember hearing people talking about the waste of money in trying to put a man on the Moon. What good would ever come out of it? If those same people are alive today, they can see the amazing things that would not have been possible without NASA.

-William M. Fisher, Laredo, TX

I was 10 years old when the first lunar landing occurred. The application of technology and the discovery of new and useful materials helped inspire me to become an electrical engineer. When my NASA Tech Briefs comes in the mail, it's always a welcome opportunity to sit back for a few minutes, relax, and read about new technologies and new applications. As an engineer, I can appreciate the degree of precision necessary and the difficulty involved in designing, operating, navigating, and landing on a planetary object so far away. And thetechnological advances that came out of basic research into new materials and their applications that were sparked by the needs of NASA missions should be admired, too.

-Andy Braverman, Port Jefferson Station, NY

I grew up in the Houston area in the 1960s, and we ate, slept, talked, and dreamed NASA. What has NASA shown me? That anything is possible, even the impossible. The second most important thing I still take with me is that we were one nation. We were unified in our acceptance of JFK's challenge. NASA, thank you for 50 wonderful years and the promise you give our youth.

-Steve Tant, Hayesville, NC

I deal with the mess that we call medicine every day. Recently, I was driving to work and was thinking, in my lifetime, what has our government set out to do, done right, and followed through to a stated objective? Nothing came to mind. Then it dawned on me that there was one shining moment; one unbelievable, "we did it" moment, in my lifetime. We went to the Moon. That one achievement is probably what led me to be a scientist and physician. Thank you, NASA, for being the one thing in this country that stands out as something done right and for the right reasons, and for being the greatest inspiration this country has had in the past 50 years.

-Mark A. Martin, D.O., Evansville, IN

Regardless of their origins, nationalities, and religions, human beings have this in common: they are all awed when they raise their eyes toward the sky. In any language, the dream is always the same: what's out there. NASA is hope. It is the human realization that when we all pull together toward a common goal, we can make it happen. For me, NASA symbolizes the human spirit, the endless possibility of our intelligence. I saw it one day when I was four years old and Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder.

-Erick Brethenoux, Chicago, IL

I was born in 1960, and my early years were filled with images of NASA regularly performing what seemed like miracles. Little did I know that my Marine Corp father was involved in early Mercury at-sea recovery system development. Growing up in the ensuing decades only cemented my future in physics and electronics as NASA led the technological way, spawning countless technologies. I am ever grateful for the small, but not insignificant, role NASA played in my formative years, and the role it still plays in my life. Now, as we embark on a second crusade to the Moon and onward to Mars, I know that this same effect on millions of young Americans, some yet to be born, will again provide the world with bright, optimistic, can-do people.

-Robert Bowman, Memphis, TN

As a child, I got so excited by the Apollo program that the name NASA inspired great dreams of conquering the seemingly impossible. It contributed to my decision to go into engineering. Not only was I inspired to do well in math and science, but I also started reading more. As an adult and an engineer, NASA Tech Briefs has kept me aware of many more possibilities for conquering even more incredibly complex problems. It has also helped me think of the interconnectedness of many areas that I hadn't considered before.

-David Freitag, Rockville, MD

It would be difficult to underestimate the effect that the Apollo 11 moon landing had on my career and life. From the moment I saw Neil Armstrong stand on the Moon, I knew I was going to become an engineer. The race to the Moon inspired in me a lifelong interest in both rockets and airplanes; it was only later that I realized what a psychological boost the Moon landing gave to the democratic free world, and what an economic boon the entire space program was to industries such as computers and medicine that currently drive our economy.

-Scott Prost-Domasky, Florissant, MO

I have worked on aero-derivative gas turbines for about 30 years. My experience shows that NASA is about 10 years ahead of the gas turbine industry when it comes to materials, coatings, and telemetry. I have had a number of situations over the years in which I found technology, processes, or vendors through NASA Tech Briefs that directly addressed my issue. Keeping current with NASA has kept me ahead in my career.

-Brian D. Hulse, Jacksonville, FL

I was working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) when the Soviets launched Sputnik. It was both a frightening and inspiring time. As a kid, I always wanted to be part of a space program and suddenly I was thrust into the middle of it. I worked on Explorer 1, The Ranger and Surveyor Lunar Missions, Mariner missions to Venus and Mars, and finally the Space Station and the shuttle. NASA helped me achieve my childhood dream — it doesn't get any better than that.

-Charles Ivie, Apple Valley, CA

As a technician in the early 80s, I subscribed to NASA Tech Briefs. I was fascinated by the various electronic advances occurring. I also enjoyed reading about how these circuits worked. On leaving the Air Force, I moved to a company building space hardware. After starting, my new boss handed me several prints for the project I would be working on, and told me to study them. After studying them, I could not help but think I'd seen this stuff before. That night, I took out some of my old NASA Tech Briefs and sure enough, in one of them I found detailed descriptions on how each circuit worked and how they were designed. This information helped me succeed on this project and cemented my career with this company.

-Bruce Lane, Tempe, AZ

In the classes I teach on high-performance computing, I am always looking for "real-life" applications that can capture the imagination of my students. NASA has always been able to provide me with rich examples of data analysis, visualization, and simulation.

-Bebo White, Menlo Park, CA

I have always been inspired by the work of NASA. From the beginning, NASA's exploration of space has inspired me to study hard in math and science. These interests led me to become an electrical engineer. Today, I work for the US Air Force as a civilian engineer and volunteer with middle school and high school students in science fairs. NASA Tech Briefs is extremely useful in keeping abreast of the latest science and technology. Reading about the latest advances in NTB also allows me to share the never-ending quest for new technologies with my students.

-Mark Swann, Warner Robins, GA

It would be impossible to list all the ways NASA has influenced my life, from more reliable products in everyday life, to inspiration from seeing the accomplishments of NASA that no one could have dared to imagine. One of the greatest stories of human resilience would have to be the successful return of the Apollo 13 astronauts. I feel that NASA has been one of the greatest things that has ever happened to this country. The reciprocal benefits to mankind are truly endless.

-Alan Hyer, West Valley City, UT

From a young age, I have been engrossed in the adventure of spaceflight. As I grew up, my interest in science and technology grew with me. While researching energy technology for our debate team in high school, I discovered NASA Tech Briefs, which significantly aided my research efforts. Once in the work world, I discovered that it had become a magazine, and I have been a subscriber ever since. The technologies keep me up to date, and often spark ideas for new ways to solve old problems. I can say that my experience as an engineer in a state-of-the-art broadcast facility has been significantly enriched by NASA Tech Briefs.

-Tim Stoffel, Reno, NV

Since the '60s, I've been inspired by space exploration and the new discoveries NASA has brought to humanity. In 1974, at the age of 15, I visited Kennedy Space Center, and it was the most important moment of my life, keeping me interested in space and aeronautical technology. Today, as an engineering project manager in San Juan, I keep one important message in mind: save our planet. NASA and NASA Tech Briefs bring us the updates and information to keep aware of the important quest and mission of NASA and their affiliates to help protect our planet, inspire the next generations, and bring new discoveries for a better life at home and on our planet.

-Edwin V. Collazo, San Juan, Puerto Rico

I have parts of the space program in my hip. The materials used and the adhesive bonding hold my artificial hip firmly in place. I have actually worked on projects directly related to the space program, and components on the Moon have my initials scratched into their interior surfaces. I am a firm believer in the value of exploration, and when NASA has proven to return 1,000-fold the investment in technology advances that are ancillary to the actual launch, this makes it profitable as well. My personal contributions have been very small, but when you have tens of thousands of people doing just a small part, this creates something very special. We are all a family. And seeing what is really out there helps us to understand how important that "Human Family" is.

-Anthony Lang, Delray Beach, FL

Since my work involves innovative application of manufactured items, it is always refreshing to open the pages of NASA Tech Briefs and see what is to become tomorrow's shopping basket. Ideas that become useful are a great inspiration. As there are so many products that have been developed by NASA, it is difficult to name all that have touched my life.

-Michael G. Muse, Knoxville, TN

As a woman scientist, I pride myself on mentoring young girls to look at science and math for their future. My husband and I work with local schools and do hands-on chemical experiments with the children. I consulted with NASA's Technology Transfer group, which provided us with wonderful handouts for the kids that year. The practical nature of the applications of the technology were such that the children could relate them to things that they see daily. Their eyes were opened even more to science and math.

-Nancey Maegerlein, Williams, IN

NASA's influence on my career began in grade school in the 1960s. All classroom activities stopped briefly and a small black-and-white TV was rolled into the room. It was lift-off time for Apollo 11. I knew then I somehow wanted to be a part of it all. I sit here today in my early 50s as an independent product development, design, and manufacturing consultant with 33 years of American industry experience. Is there one example of inspiration? There are way too many. NASA was an influence on my career and I do not know what I would be doing today if it were not for those moments watching NASA reach for space.

-John Conte, Prospect Park, PA

From an early age, I've been an avid reader of both science and science fiction. I still am thrilled with the news about the latest developments in space discoveries and exploration. There is no doubt in my mind that our lives have been greatly enriched by the spinoff technologies that the space program has shared with us under the auspices of NASA. I think it's sad that most of us are unaware of, or have forgotten, how it all started and how far we've come in a relatively short period of time.

-M. Gregory Goldbogen, Antioch, IL

I work at home and receive NASA Tech Briefs. When my son was a toddler, after I read the magazines, I would gather them in a pile and give them to him to destroy. As he got a bit older, he began to tear out the pictures. Slightly older, he began to look at the words. As the years passed, he understood more and more. I never fully realized the impact one magazine would have on him. Currently he is an intern at NASA's Jet Proulsion Lab, and in the fall will return to Cornell to pursue a Masters in Aerospace Engineering.

-Howard Epstein, Gilford, NH

In 1958, while working as a draftsman with an engineering firm in the Washington, DC area, I was assigned to lay out a new chain-link fence around some existing buildings that were being transferred to a new agency created to explore space. We found out that the new agency had a name: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. We felt a faint sense of history in the drafting room; the sense that something new and very different was on the horizon, and that we would be hearing more about the buildings behind the fence. Now, 50 years later, the spectacular successes of NASA are universally known. We have become so used to new and extraordinary technology that at times we may feel there is nothing left to surprise us. However, when I read through NASA Tech Briefs, I am surprised again, and I feel that sense of history, that our creativity is alive and well, and that all these little steps will continue to grow for years beyond the fence.

-Carl A. Scholz, San Francisco, CA

Having literally grown up with NASA has had quite an influence on me. I remember sitting with my family when our astronauts first walked on the Moon. Since my eyesight is bad and I knew I would never be an astronaut, I went the engineering and science route. I read an article that outlined all the things we take for granted that were made possible by the work NASA did to put man in space. Heart valves, plastics, computers, and food preservatives owe their widespread use to NASA. Given this impact, it is a shame that our nation doesn't pay greater attention to what NASA has done and is continuing to do for us each day. I can't wait to see what the next 50 years bring.

-Terry Duepner, Georgetown, TX


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the October, 2008 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.