NASA Spinoffs: there is more space in your life than you think.

Did you know the ubiquitous smoke detectors that help preventing catastrophic fires were conceived for NASA’s Skylab mission in the seventies? or that the wireless drill you can buy in your local hardware store was an invention driven by NASA space exploration? or the Apollo program relationship with the quartz watch you have probably worn in your wrist? The list of NASA inventions that touch our everyday life goes on and on and will continue to do so for years to come, as explained by David L. Brown, Senior Scientist with the Chief Technologist’s Office (CTO) of NASA Johnson Space Center, in a technical presentation sponsored by the IEEE Houston Section.

Following the Monthly Executive Committee Meeting of the IEEE Houston Section, this technical presentation was a unique opportunity for attendees to know details of what NASA calls “Spinoffs”, directly from a NASA insider, and how they have impacted humanity at everyday levels. In the context of NASA, and contrary to the most commonly perceived definition (revolving around TV shows and movies), the word “Spinoff” refers to technology developed for space exploration that has, however, found a way to be useful for human life down on earth.

A few examples of Spinoffs explained by the speaker included smoke detectors, quartz watches, freeze-dried food for long shelf life, memory foam and air tanks used by firemen, among others. The speaker was generous enough to pass through the public actual samples of such technologies, for a truly interactive experience which all attendees felt very excited about. The 2019 issue of NASA’s magazine “Spinoff”, also provided by the speaker to the audience, highlights other interesting items put to the service of humanity directly from space: compact aircraft battery packs, flat tire sensors (nowadays in our vehicles from the Space Shuttle days), water filtering systems, paintball gun air tanks, and many others. The speaker concluded the presentation with an overview of the future of space exploration.

Toy fact: have you noticed the patch of Mission Apollo 11, which took the first humans to the moon in 1969, does not show any names on it? This is because the crew (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) wanted the merits of the mission to be credited not only to them, but to the countless people that contributed to the success of Apollo 11. Read the full story here.

Credits: NASA

Did you miss this awesome NASA presentation? No reason to worry, check here to see the calendar of events of the IEEE Houston Section, and join us on the next great presentation.


Article by Fabian Pineda Houston Section Newsletter team

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