MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fifty years ago this week, American astronauts landed on the moon. That huge leap came about due to incredible advances in technology created by NASA.
Before and since that time, much of that technology has turned up in products here on the ground. So, what everyday items do we have because of NASA? Good Question.
There are some examples at the Bell Museum in St. Paul. It has on loan from NASA a breathing machine used by firefighters that was inspired by space suits and small wireless microphones used by astronauts to communicate to mission control.
“Technologies have gotten lighter and smaller because you had to pack as much as you could in on the space vehicles,” says Holly Menninger, director of public engagement and science learning at the Bell Museum.
Menninger’s favorite NASA contribution is the dustbuster. That happened because of a partnership between NASA and Black and Decker to invent a cordless tool that didn’t use much power. It would be used to extract core samples ten feet below the surface.
“NASA brings its space and aviation technologies back down to Earth by encouraging businesses, entrepreneurs and individuals to use NASA technologies to develop new ideas and products,” says NASA technology transfer program executive Daniel Lockney.
Those products and ideas are called Spinoffs. NASA has a list of 2,000 Spinoffs on its website that range from the GPS, to shock absorbers on bridges, scratch resistant sunglasses lenses, invisible braces, to water filtration systems and the world’s first endoscope used in brain surgery.
Also included are some of the list are three things NASA often is credited with inventing, but were actually created somewhere else: Velcro, Teflon and Tang.