People all over the globe watched as the space shuttle Atlantis took its last trip into space last week. This marked the conclusion of NASA’s space shuttle program however the thousands of technologies which were born from the program will remain with us far into the future. We use technologies from the space program at home, work, and while driving.
What comes to mind whenever you consider technologies developed by NASA? Probably rockets, spacesuits, and freeze-dried foods. It will surprise you to learn just how many common uses they have found for technologies originally developed for the space program. NASA releases an annual periodical, called Spinoff, which is devoted to educating the public about the variety of technologies with origins at NASA that have become commercialized worldwide.
Here are a couple of common items that may surprise you to know would not exist without NASA’s technology.
Athletic Shoes – A process called blow rubber molding was developed to produce space helmets and it is now used in many running footwear. This technique allows manufactures to make hollow soles in order to fill them with a shock absorbing substance. Nike Air is one common shoe that uses this method.
DustBusters – Engineers at Black and Decker created a computer program which allows motors to perform well even when using very little power. Thus the cordless power drill and DustBuster was created.
Smoke Detectors – These were first created for Skylab, America’s first space station, in 1970. They are now so common that you cannot legally build a house without installing them.
The desire to explore space has inspired humans throughout time. The space shuttle program pushed these inspirations into the development of incredible technologies. We’ll miss the space shuttle however the desire to build bigger and better technology for space travel won’t fade. We’ll probably see many more technologies produced by NASA turning up within our homes, hospitals, and lives for years to come.