Photos: 10 patents for invention and innovation in outer space
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It speaks for itself — here’s the patent for the Mars rover, granted to California Institute of Technology in 2013.
Here’s NASA’s 1989 patent for a reusable Earth-to-orbit vehicle. The US shuttle program ran from 1981 to 2011.
Space helmet venting device
Needless to say, this NASA patent from 1969 didn’t come to fruition, or at least in the form illustrated. The patent describes a venting device on the faceplate of the helmet for “purging the interior of the helmet and spacesuit,” including “vomitous elimination.” So, built-in barf bag?
Knee restraint strap system
Getting into space can be a somewhat turbulent, violent experience. These knee straps from this 1965 patent are meant to prevent astronauts from submarining, which is when a person wearing a seatbelt slides underneath it, causing injury.
Space suit with improved waist and torso movement
This 1972 NASA patent sought to improve movement around the waist and torso of the space suit by using a canted rotary joint.
Space suit attitude control and thrusting device
This is definitely not the system NASA uses, but this 1963 patent outlines a device astronauts could use to maneuver themselves in space using nozzles near their gloves to propel themselves in a direction. Money quote: “In the very near future it is reasonable to assume that astronauts will be required to exit the confines of his space vehicle…” Very true.
Personal propulsion unit
Here’s a NASA patent, granted in 1971, for a personal propulsion unit meant to assist astronauts in jumping across the surface of the moon.
Capturing orbiting spacecraft
This 1987 patent, which NASA was involved with, talks about a grapple system for retrieving an orbiting spacecraft. For example, the patent referenced using it to bring satellites into an Orbiter cargo bay for maintenance.
System for long-term remote medical monitoring
This patent from 2001 talks about a medical monitoring system for astronauts who are in space for extended periods of time. The system uses a body transceiver and a sensor under the rib cage. It would collect data like pulse and environmental temperatures and send it back to Earth.
Here’s the 1968 patent filed by NASA for the space suit designed for the astronauts in the Apollo Space program.