Last week we watched as the space shuttle Atlantis took its last trip into space. This marks the end of the space shuttle program but if you look around your home or office you can observe proof of the impact the program has had on our lives. Thousands of technologies developed for the space shuttle program have been commercialized and implemented in a number of ways to improve our daily lives.
When I think about NASA technology, I used to imagine space ships, rockets, highly magnetic boots, last but not least freeze-dried ice cream. After doing some research, I realize just how many technologies have found their way into regularly used things within my life. There is a NASA periodical called Spinoff that is dedicated to teaching people about all of the commercialized ways technologies from the space program are employed.
Here are just a few surprising things that have been developed due to the NASA space shuttle program:
Athletic Shoes – Blow rubber molding is a process developed to make helmets for NASA. It is currently used in many running shoes as manufactures can make hollow soles and fill them with a shock absorbing substance. One common shoe that utilizes this is the Nike Air.
DustBusters – NASA commissioned engineers at Black and Decker to develope a computer program that would allow a motor to perform well without using much power. Black and Decker brought it into our homes with the cordless power drill and the DustBuster.
Smoke detectors - First created in 1970 for Skylab, America’s first space station, these devices have become so vital that legally they must be installed in newly built homes.
Space exploration has inspired many things throughout time. Through the desire to improve and create new technologies for this purpose, NASA inadvertently improved our everyday lives. I’m sure in years to come NASA will continue to commission or develop new technologies that will impact us. But as we say good-bye to the space shuttle program we can rest assured that it will forever live on in our everyday lives.