NASA's Space Shuttle: Perspectives on Technology Transfer

Daniel Lockney
2010 AIAA SPACE 2010 Conference & Exposition   unpublished
Since NASA first started recording its technology transfer successes in 1976 with publication of the annual Spinoff journal, over 1,650 documented NASA technologies have benefited U.S. industry, improved quality of life, and created jobs. These benefits have been seen in the fields of engineering, medicine, communications, transportation, environmental remediation, public safety, and even consumer goods. The space shuttle program alone has generated more than 120 of these recorded technology
more » ... orded technology spinoffs. Given the imminent retirement of this program, this paper seeks to examine ways in which the development and servicing of this fleet of space vehicles, designed to ferry astronauts and cargo between Earth and space, has brought about numerous tangential benefits throughout its decades of service. This examination highlights the role of spinoffs as secondary but very real benefits of the original aerospace research and development by juxtaposing the original intent of the program-the numerous successful science missions, deployment and repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, and construction of the International Space Station-with the ancillary outcomes. Examples of these spinoffs include an implantable heart pump-based on shuttle fuel pump technology-that has been credited with saving hundreds of lives; home insulation using the same lightweight flexible aerogel NASA developed to insulate the shuttle launch systems; a high-performance, biodegradable lubricant developed for the enormous crawlers that transport the shuttles to and from their launch pads, now used for cars and sporting goods; and video stabilization software, originally created to clarify space shuttle launch video, now helping clean up crime scene video for law enforcement. Nomenclature
doi:10.2514/6.2010-8885 fatcat:jqojfdvo5nay7pwgdqrxwxtfwy