NASA has created various technologies that became the basis of most items that we use today. Since 1976, more than 1500 documented NASA technologies have been the reason for improving our quality of lives and creating many new industries. According to NASA, the Space Shuttle Program has generated more than 100 technology spin-offs. They also created a fun and intuitive website which you can explore and find the NASA techs around your home and city. Following are the ten items which were developed by the NASA engineers. The company has led to the development of various spin-off technologies over the years. Watch the list below and get ready to be amazed.
One NASA Engineer, Richard Whitcomb, developed an unconventional design during the late 1950s to mid-1960s to overcome the problem of drag when planes approached the sound barrier. NASA states, “In the 1950s, Whitcomb created the area rule (wasp waist) design that gave supersonic aircraft the “pinched look” to reduce aerodynamic drag and increase transonic speed without added power. He then turned his attention to investigating different airfoils to weaken the shockwave and reduce the boundary layer separation.”
The development led to the creation of an F-8 Crusader to test the design.
NASA found the solution to the problem of 3D drag or induced drag in the mid-70s by the introduction of winglets. Winglets first appeared on the commercial aircraft in the mid-1980s when Boeing began to introduce them on the 747-400 jetliners. Since then they became common and continued to be used on commercial airlines and have saved 4 billion gallons of jet fuel that were previously wasted due to the drag. Winglets also help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as the result of the reduced fuel use and assist in reducing aircraft noise during takeoffs and landings.
In 2008, NASA was trying to standardize their website. This lead to a solution that inspired cloud computing technology. Their answer was the development of NASA.net which provided a standard set of tools and methods for web developers. This technology developed very quickly and an interface was designed soon after. The NASA Team realized that they needed to create a ‘cloud computing service’ which has now opened services for use by millions of people on a daily basis.
The invisible braces were a product created as a collaborative work between NASA’s Advanced Ceramics Research program and Ceradayne. Despite their application in cosmetics these days, the technology was initially developed to be used in war.
Polyimide Thermal Insulating Foam
TEEK or Polyimide Thermal Insulating Foam was the winner of NASA’s 2007 Commercial Invention of the year. The material is lightweight, fire resistant, and can be given any shape. The material was created in Langley Research Center while the team was working with a new substance for fabricating composites to use in supersonic aircraft. NASA states, “Weiser explains, polyimide foams perform well across a broad range of temperatures, noting that the NASA TEEK foams provide effective structural insulation up to 600 °F and down to cryogenic temperatures.”
The foam was initially designed for customizable seats for astronauts as their body shapes vary a lot. Engineers figured that the significant variability between the astronaut’s physique could cause problems. The solution was to produce a material which can mold and fit the astronaut’s shape and return to a ‘rest’ position when it is not in use. The technology was released in the 1980s. Now the memory foam has various applications from mattresses to other cushioning.
Geared Turbofan Engine
When the gas prices were on the rise in the mid-2000s, NASA established the Subsonic Fixed Wing Project to overcome the problem and improve the fuel efficiency while reducing noise. The solution appeared to be a paradox. Modern turbofan fans are more efficient the slower they spin, however; the turbines are more efficient at higher rates of spin. The Geared Turbofan Engine was the solution to this problem. NASA and Pratt and Whitney worked together to develop Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower Geared Turbofan (GTF) family of engines which were later on certified by the Transport Canada in 2013.
Space blankets were developed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center at first where they succeeded in producing a new material called metalized polyethylene terephthalate (MPET). They found that the blanket was an excellent insulator and capable of reflecting 97% of radiated heat. The blanket is now also included in the first aid kits, camping equipment and many other applications where thermal energy is required.
NASA collaborated with the Pillsbury Company during the 1960s to develop a means of ensuring any food which is sent into space was utterly pathogen-free. This research led to the development of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety testing which is an integral part of Food Safety Guidelines around the world. The process is highly effective and is used as a standard of food safety testing in more than 150 countries across the globe.
Cochlear implants were developed and designed by Adam Kissiah during the mid-1970s. He worked on this new technology during his lunch breaks at Kennedy Space Center. He was able to convert acoustic speech signals into electrical impulses which were transferred to the auditory nerve of the patient. This completely bypasses the patient’s defective natural hearing apparatus.