An effort at Ames Research Center to standardize NASA websites unexpectedly led to a breakthrough in open source cloud computing technology. With the help of a private company, the resulting product, OpenStack, has spurred the growth of an entire industry that is already employing hundreds of people and generating hundreds of millions in revenue.
As NASA plans for long missions, it explores ways to provide astronauts with nutrition equivalent to fresh produce. Johnson Space Center worked with a business to develop a multivitamin and other supplements for astronaut health. By 2011, the company commercialized its NASA-derived products in multivitamins, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Partnering with Langley Research Center, one business developed better pressure-sensitive paint technology for gathering essential aerodynamic data from high-speed, unstable surfaces such as rotorcraft blades. The efficient, cost-effective spinoff innovation has generated approximately $200,000 in revenue for the company so far.
Early in the space program, Johnson Space Center developed a vacuum-deposition method for applying ultra-thin coatings of metal to substances. The technology spun off into commercial applications, such as the manufacture of dichroic glass. Jan Lewczenko makes use of dichroic glass in his crystal sculptures for dignitaries such as popes and presidents.
To alter the shape of aircraft wings during flight, researchers at Dryden Flight Research Center worked on a fiber optic sensor system with a private business. The company has since commercialized a new fiber optic system for monitoring applications in health and medicine, oil and gas, and transportation, increasing company revenues by 60 percent.