Aug 16, 2019

Space Program Benefits

Here are some great NASA spinoffs that many are not aware of.
Water purification — In the closed environment of space, keeping water clean is vital. If and when we colonize the Moon, or Mars, water purification will be all the more critical.
    Air purification —  \Clean air is just as important as clean water, and so air scrubbing was a priority for NASA. Boosted by NASA technology, air scrubbing is a big business, both for the home and for the planet. It is possible that NASA’s efforts to enlist bacteria in an air-purification push will prove to be the biggest breakthrough of all.

    Carbon capture — As NASA notes, “Metabolic wastes—mainly evaporative water loss, urine, utility water, expired carbon dioxide, and feces amount to 10 to 14 pounds per man per day.” In space, such accumulation is an enormous burden. NASA knew that carbon is also an energy source, and so with good science, carbon waste can become carbon fuel. Thus carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere could become, potentially, the basis of a new energy source, clearing the air while powering human civilization. In other words, this new system could become a closed loop of abundant, and clean, energy.
    Temper Foam —  NASA started out trying to keep astronauts from being crushed or killed by G-forces and impacts. “The material now known as Temper Foam­, not only provides better impact protection, but also enhances passenger comfort on long flights because it distributes body weight and pressure evenly over the entire contact area.”
    Shock absorbers for buildings — NASA’s efforts to cushion astronauts and their rockets have turned into a new technology that cushions people and their buildings: “With NASA funding, North Tonawanda, New York-based Taylor Devices Inc. developed fluidic shock absorbers to safely remove the fuel and electrical connectors from the space shuttles during launch. The company is now employing the technology as seismic dampers to protect structures from earthquakes. To date, 550 buildings and bridges have the dampers, and not a single one has suffered damage in the wake of an earthquake.”
    Freeze-drying food — One of the early challenges NASA faced was bringing food into space. Such nutrients had to be kept minimal, had to be kept clean, and had to be easy to clean up. At the same time, they had to be satisfying and tasty and now it is a new terrestrial industry.
    3-D food printing — Even now, the 3-D printing of anything is difficult  to understand. Fortunately, we do not have to understand how it is done; we can just get the benefits.
    Advanced ceramics — As NASA wrote in 2006, “To meet the requirements of the next generation of both rocket and air-breathing engines, NASA is actively pursuing the development and maturation of a variety of ceramic materials.” In the years since, advanced ceramics have been used to develop and safeguard all manner of structures in challenging environments, from wings to engines to antennas.
    Powdered lubricants — In space, where every ounce counts, it’s vital to make everything as light and efficient as possible. Thanks to technology transfers, everyone has access to lubricants that weigh little and last long.
    Scratch-resistant lenses — Plastic lenses are far superior to glass lenses because they do not shatter. However, early plastics scratched easily. So NASA figured out how to use an electric discharge of organic vapor to make a thin plastic film that was both tough and translucent. That helped considerably with space-helmet visors and now many eyeglasses are no longer glass.
Other items from the space program. These include cordless power tools, flame-resistant firefighter gear, the integrated circuit that gave rise to the microchip, and thin, lightweight insulation. Improvements to kidney dialysis, a lightning detector, automated credit card transactions, radar, jet aviation, and synthetic rubber.
Contrary to popular belief, NASA had nothing to do with the development of Tang, Velcro, or Teflon, although it did use and popularize these products.

Incidentally, the first meal on the Moon included bacon squares, cubes of sugar cookie, a fruit drink, and coffee. Fly me to the moon

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