Introduction

James L. Reuter
Associate Administrator
Space Technology Mission Directorate
James L. Reuter
Acting Associate Administrator
Space Technology Mission Directorate

The images of Jupiter are arresting. The updates from Mars riveting. We are daily learning new details about our changing climate, watching hurricanes form, and getting ready to peer deeper into our universe than ever before. All this groundbreaking work requires NASA’s scientists and engineers to continually innovate and create advances in technology, techniques, and capabilities.

But all that innovation doesn’t stop here at NASA. Thanks to the efforts of the Agency’s Technology Transfer Program and the many companies, small and large, that partner with us, the same technology created to understand our planet and explore the universe is applied to challenges right here on Earth.

For more than four decades, NASA’s Spinoff publication has documented more than 2,000 of these “spinoff” stories, from the NASA missions they originated with to their successful launches as commercial products and the benefits they’ve brought the public. In the following pages, you can read our 49 latest. Some of my favorites include:

  • Real-time precision GPS: Raw GPS data can be off by 30 feet or more, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) developed Real-Time GIPSY code to correct for these errors. Shortly after the U.S. Air Force’s GPS satellites went live in 1994, JPL received funding from NASA to figure out how to use GPS data from a network of ground stations to make real-time corrections to signals from space craft. Further collaborations with industry and government improved the technology. Now emergency responders can trace a 911 caller’s precise location—and get updates if the caller keeps moving—thanks to the JPL algorithms. (Go to page)

  • Bowflex Revolution: With no gravity weighing on them, astronauts have to work to maintain muscle mass and bone density in space. Unfortunately, traditional weight-lifting techniques and machines don’t work in microgravity. Inventor Paul Francis, with funding from Johnson Space Center, designed a “weightless weight trainer” that uses elastic resistance instead. It launched to the space station in 2000, and a commercial version of the technology launched in 2005 as the Bowflex Revolution, which quickly became a phenomenon in the home gym market. (Go to page)

  • Internet ad auctions: What most Internet users may not know is that, every time they see an online ad, they are seeing the result of a near-instant auction that began when the webpage started loading. Millions of these auctions occur every second. One leading company in the ad-bidding market got its start planning NASA missions to the Moon and Mars—developing software that could instantly evaluate thousands of possibilities and choose the best one. (Go to page)

As you can see, some of these spinoff products are household names, and some you may not have heard of—but together they change our lives every day.

In addition to these success stories, this issue of Spinoff also features 20 NASA technologies identified by the Technology Transfer Program as promising future spinoffs, available to you or your business through licensing and partnership opportunities.
(Go to page)

Ensuring every innovation made at NASA benefits the maximum number of people is an important part of NASA’s mission, written into the original congressional mandate that created the Agency. Spinoff 2019 demonstrates the continued success of that mission, as well as highlighting the many varied ways technology gets transferred into the private sector and across other Federal agencies.

Over the decades, NASA spinoffs have saved tens of thousands of lives, generated tens of thousands of new jobs, created billions of dollars in revenue, and saved billions more in costs. We hope you enjoy reading this year’s edition and learn more about the vast benefits America’s investment in aeronautics and space brings to everyday life.



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