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NASA Facts Benefits From Apollo Giant Leaps in Technology

NASA Facts Benefits From Apollo Giant Leaps in Technology

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Published by Bob Andrepont

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Apr 30, 2011
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The Moon, a luminous object in thenight sky that once inspired limitlessspeculation, afforded the inspirationfor scientific discoveries in space and onEarth – thanks to the Apollo Program.The world was captivated on July20,1969,when hundreds of millions watched through the lens of acompact camera built specifically for space as man plantedhis first step onto the lunar surface. Astronauts recordeddetails of the momentous occasion with special pens thatallowed ink to flow freely in low gravity. Other technologieslike breathing apparatuses, fabric structures, communicationsand protective coatings that made man’s step on the Moonpossible soon led to giant leaps in technology on Earth.NASA’sOffice of TechnologyTransfer and Commercializationlicenses space-age technologies and connects with the privatesector through business-to-business partnerships for thecreation of products that improve lives here on Earth. Beloware a few of the many viable commercial products Americaenjoys today with roots that reach as far as the Moon.
Playing with the Pros
Sports and recreation manufacturers looked to NASAuponlanding on the Moon in pursuit of improving their game.
Walk, jog or run like an astronaut
“Moon Boot” material has revolu-tionized athletic footwear, improvingshock absorption and providingsuperior stability and motioncontrol. Al Gross, a NASAApolloProgram engineer, used his spaceexpertise to improve athletic shoes.He substituted DuPont’s Hytrelplastic for foam materials in theshoe’s mid-sole to eliminate cushioning loss caused by bodyweight. An external pressurized shell and stress-free “blowmolding” process adapted from NASAspacesuit technologywas also used. The resulting compression chamber mid-soleallowed the popular shoemaker, AVIAInc., to reconfiguredesigns for specific sports and provide a “first step” toward adurable, foamless, non-fatiguing mid-sole.
Spinoff 1991
To the Moon, through the roof
Houston’s Reliant Stadium features the first retractable roof of its kind, made possible by NASAtechnology. NASA’sspacesuit fabric has fostered many new innovations, includinga permanent structure fabric developed for the Apollo Programand produced by New York-based Birdair, Inc. Pound forpound, the material is stronger than steel and weighs less thanfive ounces per square foot. Its translucency value, whichranges from four to 18 percent, reduces lighting needs andhelps maintain the natural grass playing field. Its reflectivitylowers cooling costs, and the Teflon coating reducesmaintenance costs by increasing the fabric’s resistance tomoisture, temperature extremes and deterioration. Thesefactors combine to lower initial costs and speed construction.There are two applications for Birdair’s fabric; tensionstructures that are supported by a network of cables andpylons (used in the Reliant Stadium), or temporary air-supported structures that consist of an outer membrane andan inner liner. On average, the use of fabric covering, whichcan last up to 20 years, can help reduce building costs by asmuch as 30 percent.
Spinoff 1978 and 1990
Rearranging furniture in a stadium
Together, NASAand General Motors developed a way tomove heavy loads more easily by lifting them onto a thin aircushion. Rolair Systems, Inc. was formed by former GeneralMotors’engineers and has found commercial uses for theinnovation. Hawaii’s Aloha Stadium uses this technology tore-arrange the stadium seating by moving an entire 7,000-seatsection on a cushion of air. Asingle operator can repositionthis huge section in just half an hour.
Spinoff 1978
National Aeronautics andSpace Administration
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
FS-2004-07-002-JSCJuly 2004
Benefits from Apollo:
Giant Leaps inTechnology 
SafeguardingYou andthe Environment
Technologies guarding astronauts on the Moon now protectyou and the environment on Earth.
Astronaut flight suitsfighting fires on Earth
Fire hazards are muchgreater in atmospherescontaining a high percentageof oxygen under pressure.After the 1967 Apollo fire,NASAneeded to find newways to protect astronautsand their vessels. TheMonsanto Companydeveloped a chemicallytreated fabric calledDurette that does not burn.ANational Bureau of Standards/NASAprojectresulted in a lightweightbreathing system includingfacemask, frame, harness and air bottle marketed by ScottAviation. Aluminum composite material was used to reducethe weight of the overall apparatus, and the frame andharness were designed to be much easier to put on and takeoff. Today nearly every major manufacturer of breathingapparatus incorporates NASAtechnology in some form,helping to reduce the incidence of inhalation-related injuries.
Spinoff 1982
Safety in security systems
Technology developed by NASAled to an intruder detectorthat helps prevent burglaries. Before prowlers can break in,vibration-sensing detectors pick up movements of anyonewithin range and relay warnings to portable radio receiversthat alert guards or residents. Encased in a stainless steeltube, the detectors are implanted in the ground outside thefacility being protected - home, bank, industrial complex orother facility.
Spinoff 1978
Solar Panels: morepower, less pollution
Innovations developedwith technology fromNASA’s Apollo lunarmodule program hascreated a renewableenergy resource used onEarth and in space. Solarpanels collect electricityby absorbing light when itstrikes the surface andtransfers it to a semiconductor. These solar panels are usedon calculators, street lights, houses and on the InternationalSpace Station. The solar array surface area currently on orbitis 9,600 square feet, nearly half (40%) the size of a footballfield (24,480 square feet). The skyscraper-sized solar arraysharness energy from the sun to power the Space Station.
Spinoff 1981
Chlorine-free pools
NASA’s silver ion technology has been used to create anautomatic pool purifier. Caribbean Clear Inc. system offersan alternative to chemicals, such as chlorine and bromine.Purifiers use silverions, as used inApollo PurificationSystems, to killbacteria, copper ionsand algae. Theyproduce spa or poolwater that exceedsEPAStandardsfor drinking water.
Spinoff 1994
Apollo innovation shakes up seismology
Through a contract with NASA, Wyle-3S built anenormously forceful shock and vibration system to simulateliftoff stresses on the launch pad. In addition to earthquaketesting, the company has adapted its shaking technology toevaluate railway cars, rail- or road-transported cargo, truck refrigeration units and highway pavements withoutdestroying or harming its surroundings.
Spinoff 1979
Medical Marvels from the Moon
Apollo-based technologies launched major medicalbreakthroughs on Earth.
Shocking heartmonitors
NASA’s Apollotechnology was usedby Medrad to developthe AID implantableautomatic pulsegenerator, whichmonitors the heartcontinuously,recognizes the onsetof a heart attack anddelivers a correctiveelectrical shock. Thepulse generator is, in effect, a miniaturized version of the defibrillator used by emergency squads and hospitalsto restore rhythmic heartbeat after fibrillation. Onceimplanted, it needs no specially trained personnel oradditional equipment and consists of a microcomputer,a power source and two electrodes that sense heartactivity.
Spinoff 1980
Apollo sets the pace
St. Jude Medical’s CardiacRhythm ManagementDivision used Apollotechnology to develop aprogrammable pacemakersystem. Aphysician cancommunicate with apatient’s pacemaker bymeans of wireless telemetry signals transmitted through thecommunicating head held over the patient’s chest. Whereearlier pacemakers delivered a fixed type of stimulus onceimplanted, this system enables “fine tuning” of the device tobest suit the patient’s changing needs.
Spinoff 1980
Easier treatments for dialysis patients
Technology originally developed under NASAcontract byMarquardt Corporation, a chemical process was developed toremove toxic waste from used dialysis fluid. This discoveryled to the development of a kidney dialysis machine using“sorbent” dialysis, a method of removing urea from humanblood by treating a dialysate solution. The process saveselectricity and gives the patient greater freedom of movement during treatment.
Spinoff 1992
Cool ideas from Apollo
NASA’s Cool Suit technology — originally designed tokeep astronauts cool during launch using a water circulationsystem — is now used by hazardous materials workers,armored vehicle crews, firefighters and NASCAR drivers.Multiple sclerosis patients and children born without sweatglands and a disorder that causes extreme sun sensitivitywear built-in water circulation vests that provide them coolcomfort. Asurgical personal cooling system has also beendeveloped for medical personnel working in hot operatingroom environments. And, horse saddle pads made with thistechnology can lower the horse’s temperature by 4 to 6degrees. Another innovation includes a liquid-cooled bra thataids in the detection of cancer using infrared thermography.By increasing the temperature difference between normaland cancerous tissue through cooling, differentiationbecomes more apparent on thermograph.
Spinoff 1979, 1982 and 1989
Precise prescription doses
Under one of the earliest contracts awarded during theApollo lunar landing program, Parker Hannifin Corporationdeveloped and produced equipment for controlling the flowof propellants into the mammoth engines of the SaturnMoonbooster. Today, Parker is supplying the huge valvesthat control propellant flow from the Space Shuttle’s externalfuel tank to the engines of the Shuttle Orbiter as well as the“peanut valve,” named for its small size. In 1977, NASAandParker created the Programmable Implantable MedicationSystem (PIMS) for continuous, computer-directed deliveryof precisely metered medication — insulin, for example —within a patient’s body.
Spinoff 1988
At Home with Apollo
Many everyday home and consumer products today tracetheir roots to technologies born during Apollo missions.
No cords attached
Utilizing NASA’scordless innovations,Black & Decker createdcordless, lightweightbattery-powered precisioninstruments designed togive surgeons optimumfreedom and versatility inthe operating room. Italso led to today’s electricscrewdrivers, drills and other portable and chargeabledevices. Cordless power tools are also used to help build theInternational Space Station on orbit.
Spinoff 1981
Clocks with rocks
To keep missions on time, GeneralTime Corp. developed electricallystimulated quartz crystals. Quartzprovides a stable time base,giving clocks an accuracy of oneminute a year. By vibrating up to4,194,304 times a second, theseclocks keep millions of people ontime around the globe.
Spinoff 1976
Busting the dust
Apollo astronauts needed a portable self-contained drillcapable of extracting core samples from 10 feet below thelunar surface. Black & Decker used a specially developedcomputer program to optimize the drill’s motor andminimize power consumption. Refinement of the technologyeventually led to the cordless vacuum cleaner called theDustbuster. It has no hose, no cord, is 14 inches long, andalso comes with a storage bracket that also serves as arecharger.
Spinoff 1981

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