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Spinoff 1996


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By their challenging nature, NASA programs are particularly demanding of technological input. Meeting the aeronautical and space goals of the past four decades has necessitated leading edge advancements across a diverse spectrum that embraces virtually every scientific and technological discipline.

Technology is simply knowledge and, like other forms of knowledge, it is often broadly applied and transferable. For that reason, the vast storehouse of technology NASA has built is a national resource, a bank of knowledge available for commercial applications and enhancements to the quality of life-"spinoff"-to new products and processes of benefit to the national economy, industrial efficiency and human welfare.

Multiple use of technology has never been more important. Budgetary stringency is reducing the amount of government funding available for new research and development, but at the same time intensifying international competition demands increasing technological innovation to strengthen the U.S. posture in the global marketplace. Reuse of technology offers a relatively inexpensive supplementary means of partnering with industry focused on bringing new products and processes to the market.

More than a thousand of spinoff products and processes have emerged from reapplication of technology developed for NASA mission programs. Each has contributed some measure of benefit to the national economy, productivity or lifestyle; some bring only moderate increments of gain, but many generate benefits of significant order with economic values in the millions of dollars.

Other technologies with moderate economic return have added measurably to the quality of life of U.S. citizens. Collectively, they represent a substantial dividend on the national investment in aerospace research.

By Congressional mandate, it is NASA's responsibility to promote expansion of spinoff in the public interest. Through its Technology Transfer Program, NASA seeks to encourage greater use of its technological resources by providing a link between the technology and those who might be able to put it to advantageous use. The program's aim is to broaden and accelerate the transfer accomplishments and thereby to gain national benefit in terms of new products, services, and new jobs.

This publication is an instrument of-and documents the outcome of-that purpose. It is intended to heighten awareness of the technology available for transfer and its potential for public benefit.

Spinoff 1996 is organized in three sections:

Section 1 summarizes NASA's current mainline programs, whose objectives require development of new technology and therefore replenish and expand the bank of knowledge available for reapplication.

Section 2, the focal point of this volume, contains a representative sampling of spinoff products and processes that resulted from secondary application of NASA technology.

Section 3 describes the various mechanisms NASA employs to stimulate technology transfer and lists, in an appendix, contact sources for further information about the Technology Transfer Program.

I hope you enjoy reading about NASA's newest spinoffs.

Dr. Robert L. Norwood
Director, Commercial Development
and Technology Transfer Division

National Aeronautics and
Space Administration

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