Jim Cast Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1779


April 10, 1996

David Morse Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA (Phone: 415/604-4724) RELEASE: 96-69 NASA LIFE-SAVING TECHNOLOGIES ENTER SPACE HALL OF FAME Three technologies originally developed by NASA to improve pilot and astronaut safety will be inducted into the United States Space Foundation's "Space Technology Hall of Fame" on April 11 to honor their contribution to enhancing the quality of life on Earth. The technologies being recognized are those for antishock trousers, flame retardant seat materials and the radiation barrier. Two of these technologies were developed by engineers in the Space Technology Division at the Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA. The radiation barrier was developed for the Apollo program through the Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX. The anti-shock trousers are an adaptation of the anti-gravity flight suits originally developed for pilots and astronauts. They were modified to combat internal bleeding in trauma victims in emergency situations. The flame retardant seats are an outgrowth of research on the flammability of polymeric materials that followed the tragic on-the-pad fire that killed three Apollo astronauts in January 1967. The radiation barrier was developed for protecting the Apollo crew capsule from the extreme temperature ranges of space, and has become a successful commercial insulation material. "We are thrilled that these NASA-developed and inspired technologies have found such wide adaptation and helped to save the lives of so many of our citizens," said Ames' center director Dr. Henry "Harry" McDonald. "We refer to these dual uses of our technologies as spinoffs," he said. "But, in fact, they are not merely secondary applications. They provide direct, quantifiable and invaluable benefits to the American taxpayer and the domestic economy."

One of the hazards that astronauts encounter during space travel is associated with the internal shifting of body fluids during transition between varying gravity levels, from zero to many times normal, according to Dr. Bruce Webbon, chief of Ames' Extravehicular (EVA) and Protective Systems Branch. Pilots of -more -2high-performance aircraft also are subject to such fluid shifts during maneuvers. To counteract the resulting effects, trousers or flight suits containing pneumatic bladders can be worn to prevent such fluid shifts. Ames engineers have been conducting research on the design, use and effects of such garments for nearly thirty years. In 1969, a physician at Stanford Hospital urgently requested the assistance of Ames medical and engineering personnel in controlling the internal bleeding of a dying patient. Using an anti-gravity pilot's suit and a device that applied external pressure to the legs and abdomen, the Ames team were able to stop the bleeding and save the patient. Today it is estimated that this life saving technology has now been used over two million times and that commercial sales of the anti-shock medical garments currently top a cumulative total of over $50 million. Research into polymeric materials following the deadly Apollo fire indicated that many materials can be protected from direct ignition by the use of a fire-resistant material which essentially "encapsulates" the more flammable material, according to Ames' Demetrius Kourtides, inventor of the flame resistent seat technology. Subsequent tests of this Ames-developed concept of using a fire blocking layer of fabric, which is thermally stable and fire resistant around existing seat cushion material, were conducted and the procedure validated in both civilian and military aircraft. More than 600,000 seats have been retrofitted since a resulting 1984 FAA regulation was instituted, and the technology is now credited with saving an estimated 25 lives each year.

The radiation barrier is a thin polymeric film that is used on virtually all spacecraft because of its unique capability to insulate and radiate in situations where delicate instruments need protection from temperature extremes. The radiation barrier is being used commercially to insulate office buildings, manufacturing plants, new homes, and automobiles. These three technologies will be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame during a gala celebration to be held in conjunction with the U.S. Space Foundation's 12th National Space Symposium on April 11 at the Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO. In addition to Webbon, Vic Vykukal and Dr. Ralph Pelligra, both of Ames, will be honored for their part in the anti-shock trousers technology. Kourtides will be recognized as the inventor of the flame resistant seat technology. With the latest selections, 25 technologies will have been inducted into the Hall since the awards began in 1988. This induction will represent the second occasion on which Webbon has been honored; he was previously cited in 1993 for his work on liquid cooled garments. -end-