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Spinoff 1997

Aerospace Research and Development

We, NASA, will stick to our vision... We like stretching the boundaries. We like proving that things that couldn't be done yesterday will be done tomorrow. We like making the extraordinary happen..

-- Daniel S. Goldin NASA Administrator

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For the past 25 years, NASA Spinoff has covered successful technology transfer from NASA to private industry. In 1973, then called simply the Technology Utilization Program Report, the first issue of the annual publication featured a story on an automated bacteria detection system derived from one used on NASA's Mars-Voyager spacecraft. In this issue, DiaSys Corporation's automated workstation for microscopic analysis also incorporates technology from space research but in a smaller, faster, easier-to-use model. Recycling nonferrous metals from discarded autos featured in 1973 has been updated by the 1997 story on Cryopolymer's application of NASA cryogenic techniques for extracting and recycling rubber from tires.

The original technologies that were eventually transferred to commercial industry would not have existed but for the initial aerospace research and development. Without the Apollo program, cooling systems for the disabled or rechargeable pacemakers would not be the same--or might not exist at all. Materials used in astronaut space suits are now used to protect firefighters on Earth. Technology from the Hubble Space Telescope makes breast biopsies quicker and more accurate, and helped scientists decipher previously unreadable portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Although the Space Station is still a twinkle in NASA's eye, spinoffs from research for long-duration space travel are already appearing. Studies of algae as a food source, recycling agent and oxygen source resulted in a highly nutritious baby formula. Materials research for the space station led to metals used in faucets that prevent scalding from hot water; as illustrated in this issue, these materials also offer improvements in golf clubs.

This section gives a brief description of what NASA Headquarters and each of the ten field centers are doing to contribute to American scientific and technological growth, comparing the years 1973 and 1997 in tribute to the 25th year of spinoff coverage. Just as the Apollo program, Mars-Voyager, and past NASA expertise have led to practical benefits on Earth, it is likely that the current research and development featured in these next pages will lead to tomorrow's revolutionary new commercial products.


NASA log - Link Office of the Chief Technologist Image of cover Spinoff 2010 NASA Hallmarks of success videos