NASA brings space to Earth

An article I wrote for Electronic Products.

American lives are touched by space technology every day

Since 1976, over 1,600 documented NASA technologies have worked their way into everyday life, creating jobs and improving the quality of life in the United States. The Space Shuttle Program, which was the United States government’s manned launch vehicle program from 1981 to 2011, has generated at least 120 technology spinoffs that many Americans rely on every day.

Unexpected Discoveries

Among the most outstanding spinoffs developed from the Space Shuttle Program are life-saving medical innovations, energy-conserving insulation and design elements, and protective eyewear.

Some of the most important discoveries were advances in medical technology, such as the creation of heart pumps. The lives of more than 200 people were saved with tiny heart pumps developed from space shuttle fuel pump technology.  The miniaturized ventricular assist pumps were a result of collaboration between doctors and NASA engineers. The pumps are one inch in diameter, weighing less than four ounces, and have kept hundreds of patients alive as they waited for transplants.

NASA Heart Pump

NASA’s artificial heart pump. Image via nasa.gov.

One of the shuttle’s most flexible spinoffs is NASA’s form of aerogel, the world’s lightest solid and one of the most effective insulators, that was used to keep liquid hydrogen fuel for the shuttle below -253 degrees C. Now aerogel is used to protect homes and industrial equipment, warm the feet of mountain climbers, and treat painful circulatory disorders.

NASA Aerogel

NASA’s aerogel. Image via nasa.gov.

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