|Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Since NASA’s inception in 1958, the Agency has been charged with ensuring its research and development activities can be shared and applied beyond the space community. NASA spinoffs are one result. These are the technologies and products the Agency has successfully shared with industry, which in turn has developed and refined them for many benefits, including medical advances, a cleaner environment, safer households, and more convenience in our daily lives.
NASA is always finding ways to bring the benefits of space exploration back to Earth. You will find NASA in the average household in many ways. It might not be obvious that the air purifier in a refrigerator or a hand-held cordless vacuum came about as a result of space missions, but they did.
In fact, NASA’s research and development has had a major and positive impact on public welfare. Technologies we can trace to the earliest days of the Space Program have improved water purification systems. NASA innovations have brought us advanced home insulation and fire-resistant fabrics used by firefighters and soldiers. NASA technology can even be found in infant formula and modern semi truck design. The list is expansive. As a Nation, we have received a significant return on our investment in space, and we have advanced our capabilities in many areas thanks to this ongoing flow of NASA ideas and technology.
NASA defines a spinoff as a commercially available product, service, or process that takes NASA-related technology and brings it to a broader audience. While the original purposes were mission-related, the technologies now are filling needs in everyday life. From robotics-based nutrition programs to better swimsuits and other sports equipment, NASA innovation has advanced our standard of living.
Since 1976, NASA has been documenting these spinoffs. It is an interesting and varied history. We are pleased to present to you this annual report on our latest innovations and ways we are inspiring people beyond our science and exploration missions.
We see it this way: NASA provides a spark of inspiration, a seed of technology, and then industry carries the ball forward and transforms it into something the general public can use. Water purification technology originally developed for the International Space Station, for instance, can bring clean water to people in remote areas where there is none. The things we learn in the coming decade on the station and in the development of new systems for reaching deep space will have far-reaching benefits. In this sense, spinoffs are representative of the new era of global exploration.
The new age of exploration will require innovative and robust technology development. NASA will continue to pursue fresh innovations and partnerships, and the Agency’s renewed commitment to research and development will bring benefits to people everywhere in the decades to come. We truly can make life better for everyone on the planet.