Portrait of Merle McKenzie, Acting Director, Innovative Partnerships Program
Merle McKenzie
Acting Director

Innovative Partnerships Program

As we begin our journey to establish a sustained human presence in the solar system, we continue to be excited by the technical challenges NASA faces today. NASA Administrator, Michael Griffin, put it best when he said, “The President’s directive for the Vision for Space Exploration gave all of us who are privileged to work in this business a challenge bold enough to last a lifetime.”

Since 1976, NASA has produced Spinoff magazine. It was created to highlight the Agency’s most significant research and development activities as well as the successful transfer of NASA technology. It shows not only the cutting-edge research being done by the Nation’s top technologists, but also the practical benefits that come back down to Earth in the form of tangible products that make our lives better. The stories in the Partnership Benefits section focus on NASA technologies being used by the public today.

How, then, do these spinoffs originate? Each spinoff starts with a NASA mission, which drives the development of new technologies in order to make the mission a success. NASA partners with industry, academia, and other Federal entities to jointly develop technologies, and mature and test the technologies using shared laboratories, test beds, and facilities. Through these partnerships, all sides can leverage one another’s ideas and investments that lead to new capabilities and benefits. One benefit of such partnerships is that the technologies can often be applied outside of a mission in various markets.

Many talented people at NASA and its partnering entities are responsible for making these partnerships successful. Those working on behalf of NASA include NASA researchers, engineers, and contractors who create technologies for NASA, plus the Innovative Partnerships Program staff, licensing agents, and legal counsel who make the partnerships work. NASA’s partners are technologists, new business developers, and the business talent who conceive opportunities and create new products. These experts bring with them a wealth of information from diverse backgrounds to help transfer the technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace. They are the experts with the technical and business acumen needed to bring these industry partnerships to fruition.

When the combination of NASA and industry technology culminates in new uses for technologies, these applications evolve into the jewels that become spinoffs. For example, a Space Shuttle pump component found application in the development of a heart pump; a charge coupled device developed for the Hubble Space Telescope found application in noninvasive breast biopsy procedures; and alternative energy sources pioneered by NASA are leading the way in advances in the use of renewable resources.

Developing technologies of interest to NASA and the commercial marketplace is an exciting joint venture. The results form a bond among NASA, industry, and the American public. The outcome of this innovative, entrepreneurial process creates value that is a concrete dividend for America’s investment in the Space Program. Spinoff captures many of these examples.

It is with great pride that we present to you Spinoff 2005. Each year, we feature NASA’s most significant technological achievements, made possible not only through the research and development, but also through the many talented individuals behind the scenes. We hope you enjoy reading this year’s edition and learning how space research and exploration have had a positive impact on the economy and on our lives.

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