Everyday Products That Were Actually Invented For Astronauts
Over the last 50 years the advanced technologies developed for space exploration have benefited our everyday lives. Here are 12 commonly used products that you might be surprised to learn have their origins in space tech.
Cordless vacuums: For the Apollo Moon landings, NASA needed a portable drill to extract samples from below the lunar surface. Black & Decker was given the contract, and developed a computer program that optimized the drill’s motor design for minimal power consumption. That same program was used to develop a cordless mini vacuum cleaner ? the DustBuster.
Freeze-dried food: Every ounce counts when you?re launching astronauts to the Moon – even today it?s important to reduce the weight of consumables as much as possible. For the long-haul Apollo missions NASA did a lot of research into space food. Freeze drying was one technique used as it eliminates as much water content from foods as possible. Foods are cooked, then quickly frozen, and slowly heated in a vacuum chamber to remove ice crystals formed in the freezing process. Next time you take a freeze-dried meal camping, imagine you?re Neil Armstrong, snacking amongst the stars.
Swimsuits: In March 2008 athletes wearing wind-tunnel tested swimsuits broke 13 world records. The suits were developed using fluid flow analysis software designed by Langley Research Center. This is a great example of how space-age tech eventually filters down to us earth dwellers.
Digital cameras: Did you shoot a selfie today? You can thank NASA for that! NASA scientist Eric Fossum invented the CMOS sensor. That?s the gizmo that?s used to miniaturize the cameras inside smartphones. This innovation was originally developed for interplanetary space missions. The CMOS sensor is one of NASA?s most used spinoff technologies.
Craft beer: Next time you take a crafty sip of a refreshing IPA, take a moment to savor the bubbles ? they might be space bubbles! Some microbreweries are using an adapted version of a system created to convert Mars?s carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into rocket fuel as a means of carbonating their beer. Cheers!
Infrared ear thermometers: Aural thermometers ? the thermometers frequently used to measure baby and infant body temperatures ? were developed in cooperation with NASA. Originally, the technology was used to measure the temperature of stars and planets.
Scratch-resistant sunglasses: NASA-developed technology for scratch-resistant lenses and helmet visors has been licensed for use in sunglasses.
Space blankets: That emergency space blanket in your first-aid kit is aptly named. They were first developed in 1964 for the space program. Their purpose? To reflect infrared radiation. Today we use them to reflect body heat, not only in emergencies, but also for athletes after high exertion exercises.
Car tires: When the Viking Lander drifted down to the surface of Mars, it used a special fibrous material in the parachute that was five times stronger than steel. This same technology has been used to produce radial car tires with an expanded tread life of 16,000 kilometres (10,000 miles).
Memory foam: You might know memory foam as the springy material that makes super lush pillows and mattresses. It was developed in 1966 by NASA’s Ames Research Center to improve the safety of aircraft cushions, but since then it?s also been used in military and civilian aircraft, automobiles and motorcycles, sports safety equipment, amusement park rides and arenas, horseback saddles, archery targets, furniture, and human and animal prostheses.
Baby formula: Some of the nutritional enrichment ingredients in baby formula have their origins in NASA-sponsored research into the uses of bread mold for recycling on long-haul spaceflights.
Cloud storage: Today, we increasingly use cloud-based internet services to store and synchronize data. Many of these services use an open source code base from an early cloud platform developed by NASA, called Nebula.
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