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You see it in advertising, in articles, and on Web sites about memory foam products: “NASAdeveloped technology”, “developed by NASA”, “NASA-invented”. These are impressive claims, but just what is the connection between NASA and the visco elastic memory foam used in mattresses, pillows, and pads and other consumer products of today? Here’s a little history lesson to help explain. To Improve Safety in Aircrafts It began over forty years ago, in 1966. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) contracted with Stencel Aero Engineering Corporation to develop a product that would improve the safety of aircraft cushions for crash and vibration protection. Two aeronautical engineers who worked together on this project, Charles A. Yost and Chiharu “Chuck” Kubokawa, came up with an open-cell, polymeric foam material that had high-energy absorption. They discovered that this special foam not only offered better impact protection, it also improved passenger comfort. NASA was very pleased with this discovery, but this memory foam formulation was not yet suited to consumers. Three years later, in 1969, Charles Yost formed Dynamic Systems, Inc. to develop and commercialize this temperature-sensitive, “temper-foam”, technology. Moving beyond aircraft seating, the company later developed medical cushions and seating systems for the severely disabled. The company’s product sales came mainly from the medical industry. However, in 1974, Dynamic Systems sold the original manufacturing rights to this technology but continued to develop improved second and third generation visco elastic memory foam materials for other industries. Formulation Released to the Public The big turning point was in the early 1980’s when NASA released the visco elastic foam formulation to the public. Fagerdala World Foams of Sweden was one of a few manufacturers willing and able to work with the difficult foam manufacturing process. In 1989, after almost 10 years of research and development, Fagerdala perfected the visco elastic foam. They began production of consumer products made from this unique Tempur® material – in particular, the Tempur-Pedic® Swedish Mattress. It was successfully tested in Sweden’s hospitals before being introduced to the citizens of Sweden in 1991. The success of the Tempur-Pedic® Swedish Mattress in Sweden led to further successes in Europe and North America. In 1998, NASA publicly recognized Tempur-Pedic® for its “significant contribution to transferring aeronautical and space research technology into the private sector to save lives, promote economic opportunity and help improve the quality of life for humankind.” Thus, the United States Space Foundation, in cooperation with NASA, inducted Tempur® Foam into its Space Technology Hall of Fame. Who Gets the Credit? Was visco elastic memory foam invented by NASA? Charles Yost later remarked, "The chemistry (for visco elastic memory foam) was bouncing around in the labs (at NASA) but it never got developed". Yost and Kubokawa came along and changed that, so, technically, the foam was not invented by NASA - it was invented for NASA. What about the visco elastic memory foam of today, was it developed by NASA? Again, the answer is no. Fagerdala improved upon the formulation that Charles Yost created at Dynamic Systems and Fagerdala further developed the formula for its now-famous Tempur-Pedic® Swedish mattresses. The credit for visco elastic memory foam's invention and development is a little misplaced when you see the claims, "NASA-developed technology" and "NASA-invented". However, NASA does deserve credit for paving the way for Yost, Kubokawa, and Fagerdala - the true inventors and developers of viscoelastic memory foam.