Spinoffs from The Space Shuttle Program
National Aeronautics andSpace Administration
Public Affairs OfficeCode P300 E Street SWWashington, DC 20546
NASAtechnology touches the lives of Americans everydayin a variety of ways. More than 1,300 documented NASAtechnologies have benefited U.S. industry, improved our quality of life, and created jobs for Americans. The SpaceShuttle program alone has generated more than 100 technol-ogy spinoffs. Some of the ShuttleÕs contributions are:
The technology used in Space Shuttlefuel pumps led to the development of a miniaturized ven-tricular assist pump by NASAand renowned heart surgeonDr. Michael DeBakey. The tiny pumpÑtwo inches long,one inch in diameter and weighing less than four ouncesÑ is currently undergoing European clinical trials where ithas been successfully implanted into more than 20 people.
ÑMaterials from the SpaceShuttle thermal protection system are used on NASCAR racing cars to protect drivers from the extreme heat gener-ated by the engines.
¥Balance Evaluation System
sÑDevices built to measurethe equilibrium of Space Shuttle astronauts when theyreturn from space are widely used by major medicalcenters to diagnose and treat patients suffering headinjury, stroke, chronic dizziness and central nervous sys-tem disorders.
ÑDeveloped for Space Shuttle medicalresearch, this rotating cell culture apparatus simulatessome aspects of the space environment, or microgravity,on the ground. Tissue samples grown in the bioreactor are being used to design therapeutic drugs and antibodies.Some scientists believe the bioreactor will routinely pro-duce human tissue for research and transplantation.
ÑNASAtechnology was used tocreate a compact laboratory instrument for hospitals anddoctorsÕoffices that more quickly analyzes blood, accom- plishing in 30 seconds what once took 20 minutes.
ÑAgas leak detection system, originallydeveloped to monitor the ShuttleÕs hydrogen propulsionsystem, is being used by the Ford Motor Company in the production of a natural gas-powered car.
ÑAsensitive infrared hand-held cam-era that observes the blazing plumes from the Shuttle alsois capable of scanning for fires. During the brush fires thatravaged Malibu, CAin 1996, the camera was used to pointout hot spots for firefighters.
ÑInfrared sensors developed toremotely measure the temperature of distant stars and planets, led to the development of the hand-held opticalsensor thermometer. Placed inside the ear canal, the ther-mometer provides an accurate reading in two seconds or less.
ÑJewelers no longer have to worry aboutinhaling dangerous asbestos fibers from the blocks theyuse as soldering bases. Space Shuttle heat shield tiles offer jewelers a safer soldering base with temperature resistancefar beyond the 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit generated by the jewelerÕs torch.
¥Land Mine Removal Device
ÑThe same rocket fuel thathelps launch the Space Shuttle is now being used to savelives Ð by destroying land mines. Aflare device, using left-over fuel donated by NASA, is placed next to the uncov-ered land mine and is ignited from a safe distance using a battery-triggered electric match. The explosive burnsaway, disabling the mine and rendering it harmless.
ÑSpecial lighting technology developedfor plant growth experiments on Space Shuttle missions isnow used to treat brain tumors in children. Doctors at theMedical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee use light emit-ting diodes in a treatment called photodynamic therapy, aform of chemotherapy, to kill cancerous tumors.