Nasa / Space

NASA tech breakthroughs that led to innovations

Semiconductors

NASA has long been one of two major government science and technology incubators (the other is DARPA). One of the best things about the space agency is also one of the least known outside the scientific community: NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program has allowed the organization to share many technologies with the private sector, spurring other technological breakthroughs and helping to commercialize these innovations. The NASA Spinoff site will give you an idea of the scope of this program, which has existed since 1976. This gallery features some of the modern inventions for which the space agency is ultimately responsible.

Many semiconductor and integrated circuit manufacturers were able to experiment on the public dime. The fact that parts for the Apollo program had to be precise, error free, and durable made for extremely high-quality manufacturing and taught the industry many lessons.

Photo credit: CNET

75 comments
PaulWPickering
PaulWPickering

Weight Watchers take note: this would be an ideal method to demonstrate how running would feel at an ideal weight - used as an incentive!

suthross
suthross

Hmm I was trying to reply to another post but the upgrade doesnt like eight indents. No reply option.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

is some of my american peers were currently communicating from off earth. This article is a rationalistaion of failure. You should be up there, on the moon, mining asteroids, terrorforming Mars, etc. You're not because people would rather syphon off the funds supposedly allocated to those goals for their own personal bank balances and a bunch of greedy politicians. Still at least you are paying the idea lip service, which is more than we are doing in the UK... The entire thing will never get off the ground while it's managed by self serving wimps.

ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898
ByteBin-20472379147970077837000261110898

Mark Tilden used to work for NASA and he took the biomorphic robotics technology to the consumer market creating the WowWee RoboSapien series of hobby and toy consumer robots. These humanoid robots were ahead of their time when they came out. I have 4 of them (two Version 2's and two RS Medias). The RS Media was specifically designed to be a learning tool for hobbyists and students as it has an accessible, programmable embedded Linux operating system and the FreeScale DragonBall board.

DesertJim
DesertJim

Dehydrating food saves space, helps preserve it but they still have to carry water to rehydrate it, so no saving unless a) they have discovered water in space; or, b) they recycle their waste water. Certainly earlier flights dumped any waste overboard, conservation and recycling would be a must for long haul, (interplanetry) and I assume the Space station. at some point there must be a trade off between the cost of recycling (energy, weight) and just hauling the water.

sboverie
sboverie

The list of things that came out of the space program is impressive. It was extra ordinarily expensive to pursue a space program during the 60's and 70's; but the returns are greater than the costs. During the late 60's, there was grumbling about what a waste of money space exploration was and that the money would be better spent on fighting poverty and disease. From our current perspective, the money spent for space exploration has helped improve the lives of most. NASA and space exploration epitimizes the best of all us. The challenge to send a man to the moon demanded collaboration by the government, univerities and business. The embarrassing fact is that the US no longer has that dynamism. After the space shuttles are retired, NASA will have to hitch hike on other countries and even private industry to get to space. If the US or another country can put together that kind of alliance between different industries and government, then think of possibilities to expand human knowledge and abilities for the benefit of all.

maj37
maj37

Jets hat joy sticks long before NASA had anything to do with them. Maybe they did help in the development of them for computer simulation but they didn't help invent them. maj

naske_m
naske_m

Are we forgetting sir Arthur C. Clarke, The inventor of the communications satellite. Long before NASA was born.

blarman
blarman

Philo T. Farnsworth invented basic TV. And he wasn't working for NASA at the time.

jor55
jor55

The 'breakthroughs' are of such a magnitude it is hard to fathom that they are the result of consistent research and development. The degree of 'innovation' is such that one could almost use the term 'magic', and of course there is no magic, so where is the technology coming from? NASA and DARPA are at the cutting edge of implementing new technology. If this technology is so out of place, at levels that even 10 years ago that we could have called it 'science fiction', then where did it come from? Perhaps NASA and DARPA and other organizations have themselves had or have access to technology of an extraordinary source? Where there is smoke there is fire.... Have these agencies been 'leaking' advanced technology into our economy in measured and calculated increments, and to what REAL level of technology do they have access? What's coming next?

techrepublic
techrepublic

Air Purifiers...Ecoquest, now Vollara, took their air purification technology to help scrub the air inside the spacecraft and made it available for residential use. This has been featured by the NASA Space Foundation, which as certified it as the only NASA Space Foundation Certified air purifer. See this little purifier at www.PureLife.us or MoreVollara.com

Burp
Burp

And don't forget who invented the space blanket. Carried by almost all hikers and used in emergency recovery situations. There are many inventions that could be attributed to more than one source. Take flying. In the US we say the Wright brothers invented flying but in France you will get a completely different story.

artlife
artlife

Interested parties should visit Nasa's websites as there are literally hundreds of technological advancements attributable to Nasa.

dave.stafford
dave.stafford

Ivan Sutherland at MIT invented the first computer controlled head-mounted display called the Sword of Damocles. The CT scanner was a British/SA invention. The first satellite was Russian, and first mooted by Arthur C Clarke. 3D modelling was driven by the semiconductor industry NASA may have used these technologies, but they certainly didn't invent or make the breakthroughs. They did do the million dollar space pen though. The russians used a 5c pencil:-)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Scroll up to the parent post and reply to that.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

[i]The entire thing will never get off the ground while it's managed by self serving wimps. [/i]

interested bystander
interested bystander

If NASA collected royalties on all those inventions, we could balance the budget. Btw hground, wikipedia is not usually considered a reliable source.

MLFManager
MLFManager

Jets of that era did not have joy sticks, they had control sticks, which allowed them to mechanically control their aircraft through a direct physical connection, the joy stick used on the moon lander provided an for an electrical, not mechanical connection to the vehicle.

bwrynn
bwrynn

Mr Clarke certainly published a paper how Communication Satellites could relay signals in Wireless World, October 1945. However the idea of satellites preceded Clarke by many years. Geostationary satellites were described in Hermann Oberth's 1923 book Die Rakete zu den Planetenr?umen. Note that George O. Smith published many SF stories about interplantetary communications satellties years before Clarke's article - Venus Equilateral. So Mr. Stafford is incorrect about the Clarke part of "The first satellite was Russian, and first mooted by Arthur C Clarke

dave.stafford
dave.stafford

John Logie Baird FRSE (1888-1946) was the inventor of the world's first practical, publicly demonstrated television system, and also the world's first fully electronic colour television tube. Baird's electromechanical system was eventually displaced by purely electronic systems (such as those of Philo Farnsworth) Baird also didn't work for NASA.

joeller
joeller

The TV's of my youth had 15 inch screens on a big box filled with tubes that the repair man was always in to fix because it was on the fritz. Later on it was a huge piece of furniture that took up the entire living room to provide you with a 21 inch screen. And still was full of tubes. Then came the inverntion of intergrated circuitry like that used in Gemini and Apollo. Suddenly you started getting larger screens on smaller and cheaper sets that did not break down all of the time. Cameras became small enough to be hand carried rather than being this big huge thing on wheels. Video tape became available to the public instead of being the province of the broadcasting companies. Thanks to the need to put light weight electronics into space.

JCitizen
JCitizen

their is good evidence, and a test done by the Smithsonian, that an English gentlemen by the name of George Cayley successfully built and had a manned-heavier than air glider tested, that was launched by runners and flown by an operator(pilot - who promptly resigned). A replica built by the Smithsonian was successfully launched by counter weight and spring(rubber band essentially). Although this isn't self powered flight, another replica was flown by Derek Piggott in 1973 with ground tow. Though Cayley was a mathematical. mechanical, and flight physics genius; he wasn't able to develop a light enough propulsion system before his death. It is easy to imagine, that if another technology that could have theoretically been accomplished back then had wedded with his invention, the whole world would have been very different: http://www.flysteam.co.uk/recent.htm I've read but can't find online links to an American coach company that built lightweight flash steamers for light carriages in the late 1700s. This all runs full circle to precisely what you said about the French with this very interesting study: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cl%C3%A9ment_Ader

dave.stafford
dave.stafford

I agree, there are many genuine NASA led inventions. That's why it is such a shame this article tried to appropriate some that were not.

Jymbul
Jymbul

Did NASA also invent the Internet??? Come on someone must think they did. The US Miltary invented ARPANET which eventually became the Internet. However ARPANET was very slow and often did not work it took British experts from Bletchly Park (the people who broke the enigma code) to invent TCP/IP... then it worked. Also the WWW another Brit (Tim Berners-Lee) invented that. So the fact I can write this and you guys can read, respond and no doubt flame (me) is because of good old Blighty... God Bless The Queen!!! ;o)

howletrc
howletrc

NASA used ultrasound to find small-micro cracks in the shuttle wings and that translated to medical ultrasounds used for imaging different parts of the body like the heart, abdomen, etc...

dave.stafford
dave.stafford

Well this has been an emotive subject. But a lot of people have missed the point. There was no suggestion by myself (or anyone else that I've seen) that NASA has not been innovative, or contributed immensely to technology. My issue is with Techrepublic and their article, which implied that NASA had invented or been responsible for several key technologies. And I am sure NASA would be the first to refute the particularly outrageous claims made. Whether this article was due to poor or lazy research, or simply jingoism I don't know or care. But the wording of the article was sloppy enough to imply something very different to the truth. By the way I had the privilege to work very closely with NASA during my time with the European Space Agency. I have the utmost respect for the scientists and engineers I worked with. And I am pretty certain they would be embarrassed with both the article, and some of the pretty excitable comments made.

bwrynn
bwrynn

"NASA never approached Paul Fisher to develop a pen, nor did Fisher receive any government funding for the pen's development. Fisher invented it independently, and then asked NASA to try it. After the introduction of the AG7 Space Pen, both the American and Soviet (later Russian) space agencies adopted it." Also "NASA programs previously used pencils... but because of the danger that a broken-off pencil tip poses in zero gravity and the flammable ... wood present in pencils." It was the Fisher Company that did this not Parker. It is not hard to look these things up before folks act obnoxious and create more internet trash.

ed.quinlan
ed.quinlan

Calling this "rubbish" indicates that you don't know the time frame. Talking about the 40's 50's 60's and 70'. You are referring to the tail end. When JFK made his speech about getting to the moon in 10 years (NASA actually beat that by almost 3 years he was told by the scientific and tech community that 40% of the technology was not yet available or would have to be invented. That took place between 1959 and 1967. NASA may be many things now, but the next time you are in an ICU watching the machines monitor vital signs that came out of NASA and it's many contractors.

artlife
artlife

Nasa is not claiming to have invented various things (like the CT scanner). And you don't understand how many technological advancements arise, apparently. Nasa's contribution to many advancements is in the core technologies, or, because of special need, the refinement of existing technology. Without Nasa's partnership with private industry, what good would come of some technologies beyond space (or perhaps military) use? You mention Russia's satellite...The claim is not that Nasa invented the satellite, but that their extensive use and sharing of satellites has greatly benefited the public. As for the CT scanner, it was Nasa's digital signal-processing techniques, originally developed to enhance pictures of the Moon for the Apollo Program, that became indispensable part of CAT and MRI technology.

mork451
mork451

Mr. Stafford, who was most likely yet to be born when this technology came about, seems to have a love for revisionist history. Next, he will be telling us apartheid was a myth. He is mistaken on just about every point in his comments. While it is true that the inventions were not created within NASA facilities, NASA paid the contractors to develop technology that was necessary to make the space program possible. I have read every novel and many other works written by Mr. Clarke. He definitely did his share to promote the exploration and utilization of space. He did not, however conceive of the concept of satellites, which predates his birth by a generation or two. While Allan Cormack (who published the -theoretical papers- leading to the CT scan was born in South Africa, his work leading to those papers was done after his move to the United States. As to 3-D modeling...where do you think the impetus (not to mention the financing) for the development of semiconductors came from? Government contracts from the military and NASA. As to his not-so-subtle dig regarding the space pen, the research into capillary action and fluid mechanics in zero-g, zero pressure environments that led to its creation was hardly wasted! The article does fail to mention a number of more basic technologies, such as the personal computer, which were direct derivatives of the space program...and without which his ill-considered diatribe would not have been possible.

n_egii
n_egii

Spot on. Completely agree with you on everything, but the pen and pencil hoax. This article is definitely rubbish. Tell me about twisting the history.

Mark.Moran
Mark.Moran

Unfortunately the NASA $Million pen vs Russian 5c pencil is an urban myth. Lets hope that more of your facts posted aren't equally as wrong.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Imagine US history if the founding fathers had got back on the boat and said don't like the look of the natives, or there are no towels in the Hotel...

hground
hground

From article: "The first electrical 2-axis joystick was probably invented around 1944 in Germany. The device was developed for targeting the glide bomb Henschel Hs 293 against ship targets. Here, the joystick was used by an operator to steer the missile towards its target. This joystick had on-off switches rather than analogue sensors. The signal was transmitted from the joystick to the missile via radio. This invention was picked up by someone in the team of scientists assembled at the Heeresversuchsanstalt in Peenem?nde. Here a part of the team on the German rocket program was developing the Wasserfall missile, a variant of the V-2 rocket, the first ground-to-air missile. The Wasserfall steering equipment converted the electrical signal to radio signals and transmitted these to the missile. In the 1960s the use of joysticks became widespread in radio-controlled airplane modelling systems such as the Kwik Fly produced by Phill Kraft (1964). Kraft Systems eventually became an important OEM supplier of joysticks to the computer industry and other users. The first use of joysticks outside the radio-controlled aircraft industry may have been in the control of powered wheelchairs, such as the Permobil (1963). During this time period NASA used joysticks as control devices as part of the Apollo missions. For example, the lunar lander test models were controlled with a joystick."

seravilo
seravilo

As a former NASA (Goddard) engineer/inventor, I can only recall the utter FRUSTRATION I and my peers underwent to try to move that Behemoth to a point at least on par with Germany, Japan, and our own Air Force! NASA could never touch the contributions of DARPA. By the mid-80s, CAUTION became the watchword for the Agency, yet the failures increased in magnitude and frequency despite all the "QA" and heritage-only technology mandates for our spacecraft and instrumentation. YOU are correct, sir!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Al Gore... Ok Jymbul before you flame spray me for this, You are correct I just couldn't help myself.

mbrown
mbrown

And Arthur C. Clarke was a Brit as well, until he moved to Sri Lanka I guess! Someone mentioned he did not invent the concept of artificial satellites...true; it was geo-synchronous satellites he first postulated and they enabled cells phones, GPS, etc...Viva la Clarke!

tommytully
tommytully

OK, I am an American. Not a "USA#1" fanatic, but I like my country. I lived and worked in Birmingham, UK for 3 years and learned much about the rivalry between which culture invented what. Even kids shows talk about "Thomas Edison didn't invent the light bulb, it was Sir Blah Blah Blah." Does it really matter? I mean, there are few true innovations that can be traced to a specific person at a specific time. Modern culture has seen innovation through an evolutionary process happen for years. Ideas play on each other. Taking the internet and saying that it was British guys that made it work right, is s bit silly, mate. I mean, ARPANET was a US thing, WWW was British, Japan perfected the manufacturing processes to make all the stuff used to run the internet and many others have taken the internet to where it is today. And so on, and so on. My long-winded point? We are all humans. We are natural evolutionary innovators. Read the article! It is merely saying that many modern commonplace items we use were partly developed in some way by NASA funding and research. It doesn't say that "USA is #1 and all other nations are crap at innovation!"

richard
richard

Wow guys, galls you really went off the wall! The article is good PR for HP and TRUE inventions are EXTREMELY rare. All these are the result of many collaborative parties and I think that it is not a bad story to summarize these great breakthroughs whether inspired or promoted by NASA. And stay humble. Don't forget Sputnik was first up there ;-)

Andy J. Moon
Andy J. Moon

...by my mother, who has worked for NASA's JSC for two and a half decades and whose husband rose from Mission Control during Apollo into NASA's upper management. They did not refute a single claim and both indicated that they thought the article was spot-on. As far as my research, I relied heavily (almost exclusively) on NASA publications. I will admit a pro-NASA bias that stems from much of my immediate family having worked for NASA or its contractors as well as my proximity to JSC. I didn't mention satellite technology because it seemed like such a no-brainer (NASA contributed to satellite technology, no way ;) ) and didn't mention computers because of an extensive article on that topic from 2007.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

[i]NASA has long been one of two major government science and technology incubators (the other is DARPA). One of the best things about the space agency is also one of the least known outside the scientific community: NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program has allowed the organization to share many technologies with the private sector, spurring other technological breakthroughs and helping to commercialize these innovations. [/i] I really don't see how you get revisionism out of that paragraph. Nowhere does it say NASA invented any of the technology that was mentioned, nor can I read those sentences in any way that even implies such.

c-tom.matthews
c-tom.matthews

over 3,600 patents to its name. This article doesn't even scrach the surface. What is the greatest achievement of USA history in the 20th century? Breaking the Axis of evil? Breaking the sound barrier? How about first to the moon with people who lived to tell about it? Rather than bag on NASA, we need another JFK-style challenge, this time to get to Mars. Just like JFK did, fund it, set a date and make it happen! Go back to all your leftover segregated signs and marvel over the fact that you USED to have a few puny fission bombs. Can you blow out lights from 1500 miles?

dave.stafford
dave.stafford

Let's try and leave the nastiness out of this. You don't know my age or my politics, but I'll tell you this: apartheid, like the Ku Klux Klan, was an abomination. But at least apartheid is a thing of the past. And I'm Irish, so try not to jump to conclusions, or use crude emotional levers. As for revisionism, for example the first commercially viable CT scanner was invented by Sir Godfrey Hounsfield in the United Kingdom, at EMI Central Research Laboratories. Hounsfield and Cormack were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in 1979 - or perhaps you don't think that's true as well? And as for my 'diatribe':-) My point was not to have a pop at NASA, but at TechRepublic's revisionism. So please try and read a little more carefully in future.

BRS
BRS

I don't really Care who invented what. I only know I was lucky enough to witness a launch from the Cape. That to me says it all.

shunya
shunya

so what is the myth.The russians spent only 1c or what?.

dave.stafford
dave.stafford

Go check the facts for yourself, it'll only take a few minutes. Or perhaps you believe everything you are told. The $1M pen is not entirely urban myth. Parker developed the pen, reportedly costing about $1M to do so. NASA later adopted the pen, paying 6$ each. NASA has spurred the development of a lot of technologies, and even invented some as well. But it certainly did not invent all of the things this article tries to take credit for.

vdesilva
vdesilva

the example you give is facile and puerile. It show the complete lack of imagination. The NASA budget is cheap money for industry to develop and innovate. If private industry had to borrow this money the Russians would not be making cheap pencils they would be growing potatoes to feed their population if they cared.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

That or Canada would include the eastern seaboard and probably the northern plains, Mexico would include the southern plains, and Japan and Russia would still be fighting over the west coast.

Jymbul
Jymbul

I have no problems with who invented what... hopefully we all benefit. My beef really was the fact that the main article was reasonable in its spirit but the inaccuracies within it help to perpetuate ignorance... and extend the "received wisdom" as though it is fact... Overall the debate that has ensued is good and well humoured. Cheers James ps. whereabouts in Brum were you based.?.. I went to University in Birmingham and now live in Walsall.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

The company founded by C.W. Post. Tang was invented in 1957.

robo_dev
robo_dev

surely NASA invented the god-awful orange sugar concoction that would stain our tongues bright colors as children??

richard
richard

Ok guys, enough is enough! This dialog is getting out of hand. Dave made his point and other their comments. Bottom line : these were great breakthroughs that benefits humanity. Who cares really about who did what to whom when? NASA didn't "invent" all of these but certainly contributed a great deal and accelerated the maturation inventive process. And we should have more of it in the future. I am off now!

dave.stafford
dave.stafford

> it was of necessity a popularized (read 'dumbed down') Ah, but you are so wrong. You say it is necessary to dumb down the article. Why? Why are you so accepting of moronic pap? Why not demand higher standards? This is a technical forum, do people really need it dumbed down? And does 'dumbed down' mean simpler, or as in this case 'not true', or perhaps 'occasionally true'? I think in America people do not realise just how much it annoys non-Americans when they see poorly written articles like this that seek to steal credit where it is not due. The film U-571 is a perfect example, depicting Americans capturing the Enigma machine. Of course it was not true at all. It was British personnel from HMS Bulldog who first captured a naval Enigma machine, from U-110 in the North Atlantic May 1941. (Before the United States entered the war) Hollywood one can understand, however unpalatably, portraying fiction as fact. But this forum should aim a bit higher than Hollywood's lamentably low standards. And finally none of this is an attack on NASA. It's an attack on poorly written, sloppily researched articles like this one.

joeller
joeller

Obviously you missed the point of the whole article, which is that NASA's research into space has resulted in technological and other benefits. Next time you secure something with velcro thank NASA. When you are reading this on your PC or Laptop, thank NASA. When you answer your cell phone thank NASA. When you check the GPS in your car thank NASA. Next time you hop on a 747 or an air bus to take a trip thank NASA and it's predecessor NACA. In addition just compare the 6000-12000 deaths suffered in the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 with the 1836 deaths in Katrina thanks to the warnings available due to NASA. So if you have any relatives who live on either the US East Coast or the Gulf Coast then thank NASA for their safety. I remember life before the Space Program. Flying was for the rich and famous, TV's took up the entire living room. When the calculator came out in the late 60's only the rich could afford this big bulky thing 5 times the size of smart phone. The rest of us used slide rules. So one can not give enough credit to NASA's impact on the world of today.

mork451
mork451

I may have let my annoyance at your comments get the better of me; for that I apologize. The article does not, however, contain a single untrue statement. While you are entirely correct regarding the origins of the CT scan, they also neglected to credit Edison for his research in electricity, even though the technologies mentioned would not have been possible without his (and others')work. The TR article was not meant to be an exhaustive treatise on the origins of all the technologies discussed; it was of necessity a popularized (read 'dumbed down') effort to point out by example how much our modern lifestyle owes to work done for, even if not directly by, NASA.

joeller
joeller

1. The benefits of Satellite prediction of Hurricanes has more than made up for the cost of the entire space program. Compare the 6000-12000 deaths as a result of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 because they didn't know it was coming with the 1836 deaths from Katrina, many of which came from failure to heed warnings which were not available for Galveston. 2. NASA emplifies the drive to explore the History shows that a society needs to grow. History shows that any society that ceases to explore and expand goes into decline. Look ant the Romans. Consider China from 1425 - 1900. As another example, between 1600 and 1800 the Netherlands was one of the Great Powers of Europe with a world-wide empire. Now the Netherlands is most noted for Joran Van Der Sloot.

gardoglee
gardoglee

Among the many things the author did not mention (and should have) is weather technology, both in terms of saving lives and saving literally hundreds of billions of dollars in crop losses each year. And yes, someone else might have first thoughtof looking down at weather from space, but NASA has made huge leaps in the capability, and has shared the results freely with industry. If they had accomplished nothing else over the years that would have been enough. And then there are advances in aviation...

n_egii
n_egii

History is not to be cared, but to be learned, so that we can learn from our mistakes and achievements. Biased view of history (which is definitely present in this article) is never a good thing.

howletrc
howletrc

Spent a million rubles developing a pencil for space!! (or was that the Polish?).

bwrynn
bwrynn

"NASA never approached Paul Fisher to develop a pen, nor did Fisher receive any government funding for the pen's development. Fisher invented it independently, and then asked NASA to try it. After the introduction of the AG7 Space Pen, both the American and Soviet (later Russian) space agencies adopted it." Also "NASA programs previously used pencils... but because of the danger that a broken-off pencil tip poses in zero gravity and the flammable ... wood present in pencils." It was the Fisher Company that did this not Parker. It is not hard to look these things up before folks act obnoxious and create more internet trash.

suthross
suthross

Sorry I misspoke, I meant to say available fuel sources that contributed to fantastic speed of the fatal conflagration. That the fire started in an arcing wire loom is a likely assumption made from the forensic teardown of the next command module (once the panels where off the team found all sorts of defects and a shifting wrench) and since everyone is claiming revisionist history. I will let you actually read the senate committee report in penance of failing to even acknowledge those lives spent and the grief of the families. Those who dont study history are doomed to repeat it. Might be a better joke than pernickety comments on the insulation properties of Velcro that says nothing about its flammability.

HavaCigar
HavaCigar

The fire at complex 34b was caused by arcing. Velcro doesn't arc. It was a metal access panel under the seating area that scraped insulation off of wires.

suthross
suthross

I remember that the idea of being able to stick everything down in a zero G environment lead to an exuberant abundance of Velcro adding to the ignition sources available in the command modules Oxygen rich environment. Perhaps a pause to remember that NASA was not just spending money on technological development but lives as well. On January 27, 1967, tragedy struck the Apollo program when a flash fire occurred in command module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle being prepared for the first piloted flight, the AS-204 mission. Three astronauts, Lt. Col. Virgil I. Grissom, a veteran of Mercury and Gemini missions; Lt. Col. Edward H. White, the astronaut who had performed the first United States extravehicular activity during the Gemini program; and Roger B. Chaffee, an astronaut preparing for his first space flight, died in this tragic accident. A seven-member board, under the direction of the NASA Langley Research Center Director, Dr. Floyd L. Thompson, conducted a comprehensive investigation to pinpoint the cause of the fire. The final report, completed in April 1967 was subsequently submitted to the NASA Administrator. The report presented the results of the investigation and made specific recommendations that led to major design and engineering modifications, and revisions to test planning, test discipline, manufacturing processes and procedures, and quality control. With these changes, the overall safety of the command and service module and the lunar module was increased substantially. The AS-204 mission was redesignated Apollo I in honor of the crew. Source: NASA Historical Reference Collection, NASA History Office, NASA. Headquarters, Washington, DC. Excerpts from The Apollo 204 Report

TechRepublic
TechRepublic

It was invented by the Vulcans. ;) LLAP!

Recce1
Recce1

jgeorge, good catch. You're right, Velcro was invented in 1941 by a Mexican engineer living in Switzerland. He patented by the mid 1950's but it didn't find wide acceptance until the 1960s when its use by NASA made it popular. As an interesting side note regarding computers, they were available more that 2000 years ago. One surviving example is the Antikythera mechanism made possibly around the 1st or 2nd century BC and was used to calculate astronomical positions. Of course the semiconductor made computers much more useful. while found in 1900, resistance to believing the ancients were intelligent or advanced enough to create such a device delayed our recognizing it for what it was, a sophisticated analog computer.

ARAHIGIHS
ARAHIGIHS

In the caption for the very first picture, it says that through the Innovative Partnerships Program they have shared technologies with the private sector. Although it says that these inventions are ultimately due to the space program, it doesn't say that NASA invented the products. They routinely fund R&D projects in the private sector. Even if they didn't do the work themselves, they funded the project that may not have happened without their vision and money. As to the pen, it's only a million dollar pen if they charge a million dollars for it.

jgeorge12001
jgeorge12001

No, Velcro predates the space program. It was invented in the 1940's, I believe. Look it up. There are enough real benefits from space research without having to make some up, as others noted. Before the first space shuttle flew, the ceramics research used to construct the tiles was finding application in lining blast furnaces, as I recall.

Al_nyc
Al_nyc

Those $6 pens were well worth the money spent. It's good to see our tax money spent on stuff that will benefit all of us and not just spent on secret stuff that only benefits the bank account of the defense contractor and costs us taxpayers a ton of money.

joeller
joeller

According to you Parker developed the pen for NASA, which they then sold to Nasa. However, they then made beacoup de bucks selling to the public (remember the Seinfeld episode). But some of the most interesting and most used technologies were not mentioned or underemphesized. Velcro for one. As a benefit of Satellite technology compare the 6000 - 12000 lives lost in the 1900 Gaveston Hurricane with the 1836 lost with Katrina, and the very low death toll from Hurricane IKE. The ability to predict Hurricanes and their tracks has returned benefits that more than make up for the entire cost of the Space Program. In addition, the drive to miniaturization in computers was driven by the need to develop computers to fit into the Gemini and Apollo capsules and particularly the LM. So if you are reading this, you are benefiting from NASA research. If you think the computer industry would have done this on their own, then look at the fact we are still using piston driven gasoline engines for our cars to see how much private industry will innovate on their own.

JCitizen
JCitizen

"inwented", don't you? ;)

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

All I could think of while reading the rants was Checkov - who always said, "no sir, it was a Russian who invented that..."

vdesilva
vdesilva

... and not political.. Most OECD economies (to be neutral) invest this way, including SA exporting armoured vehicles that are bomb-proof.

dave.stafford
dave.stafford

Not sure where "imagination" or lack of it came from. The only imagination shown was by the author of the article trying to appropriate other people's work. As for your political views on Russia or elsewhere, it's not really relevant this this discussion.