NASA Spinoff

Transportation

NASA Technology

Nearly 20 years ago, Pieter Buning was in the early stages of his career with NASA, working on an interactive graphics program called Plot3D. “Life...

NASA Technology

These days computers handle a lot of the work for designing an airplane, but when it comes to seeing how well the new design will really handle in...

NASA Technology

In the late 1990s, as computers were becoming vastly more powerful, Stuart Rogers began working on Pegasus 5—software that made use of this...

NASA Technology

At a time when cell phones and automobile features are outdated after a few short years, it may seem impossible that any technology would...

NASA Technology

Ethernet computer networks date back to the 1970s and are now used virtually everywhere, including in space. Inexpensive, ubiquitous, and easy to use,...

NASA Technology

It wasn’t Walt Silva’s job to invent a technique to dramatically speed up computational modeling of aircraft. But the NASA researcher did it...

NASA Technology

Facilities for mechanical loads testing of aircraft and spacecraft are often jungles of cables, wiring, and hoses.

NASA Technology

Life on Earth is surrounded by, and dependent on, carbon dioxide (CO2). Plants need it for photosynthesis; people and animals exhale it; industry and...

NASA Technology

No human venture into space is a success until craft and crew have safely returned to Earth.

NASA Technology

Sukra Helitek Inc.’s simplified, user-friendly computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software package began with Ganesh Rajagopalan essentially trying...

NASA Technology

It’s been more than 70 years since an airplane first broke the sound barrier, and yet supersonic flights remain mostly out of reach for civilian passengers, in large...

Born out of a desire for aircraft to be able to take off and land capably at airports with shorter runways to alleviate congestion at the major hubs, the circulation control wing...

NASA Technology

The old saying about the inability to build a better mousetrap could also apply to aircraft design tools. For years, the best, and maybe only, way to...

NASA Technology

Consider any component of a modern passenger airplane, and you’ll discover a remarkable amount of engineering complexity that went into its...

NASA Technology

In June of 1991, Japanese scientist Sumio Iijima had been studying fullerenes, man-made molecules made up entirely of carbon, when he discovered under an...

NASA Technology

There’s some wizardry involved in sending a rocket or other spacecraft beyond the oppressive reach of Earth’s gravity. Long before the first...

NASA Technology

Since its founding in 1958, NASA has made profound contributions to aviation, including advancing our understanding of flight mechanics—the study of forces that affect aircraft in flight—and devising ways to improve aircraft performance.

NASA Technology

To permit safe and reliable aircraft navigation over North America using the Global Positioning System (GPS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has developed the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), which improves the accuracy, availability, continuity, and integrity of...

NASA Technology

Just 12 years after the Wright brothers became the first to take to the skies in a powered airplane, in 1915 Congress established the National Advisory...

NASA Technology

By the time he was visiting what is now known as Armstrong Flight Research Center to witness the first tests of his latest creation, Richard T....

NASA Technology

Typical cruising altitudes for business and commercial aircraft are up to 50,000 feet or more. At such altitudes, the oxygen concentrations in the air are much lower than on the ground. Occupants could not survive in this environment without pressure inside the aircraft...

NASA Technology

In the beginning, safety trumped comfort in spacecraft designs for human space travel. Mihriban Whitmore, a manager in the Human Research Program at NASA’s Johnson...

NASA Technology

When an aircraft experiences catastrophic failure, it’s not difficult to tell that something has gone wrong. But even if an airplane reaches its destination...

NASA Technology

James M. Patton Jr. completed a whopping 8,000 spin turns throughout his career at NASA. As a research pilot at Langley Research Center, Patton and his...

NASA Technology

Comets are beautiful, and apparently it’s a youthful kind of beauty, because they look about the same from the time they were born. Often referred to as dirty...

NASA Technology

It was Henry Ford who said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Following such an adage,...

In the winter of 2009, Washington, DC, workers faced the prospect of a difficult commute due to record-setting snowfalls. But thousands of the city’s Metrorail riders found the public transportation system fully functional, thanks in part to a NASA technology invented years before.

NASA Technology

Successfully building, flying, and maintaining the space shuttles was an immensely complex job that required a high level of detailed, precise engineering. After each shuttle landed, it entered a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) phase. Each system...

NASA Technology

The rotors of certain helicopters can spin at speeds as high as 500 revolutions per minute. As the blades slice through the air, they flex, moving into the wind and back out, experiencing pressure changes on the order of thousands of times a second...

NASA Technology

For 6 years prior to the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program, the shuttles carried an onboard repair kit with a tool for emergency use: two tubes of NOAX, or “good goo,” as some people called it. NOAX flew on all 22 flights following the Columbia...