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Space Technology Hall of Fame

Inducted Technologies

The Space Technology Hall of Fame comprises many extraordinary innovations - all derived from or significantly improved by space research or exploration. Learn about our inductees - the technologies and the innovators - here. You can scroll through all the years or find something specific using the handy search bar above. 

To nominate a technology, please download our Official Nomination Form or visit our Nominate a Technology page to learn more about the Space Technology Hall of Fame selection criteria.

1995

Parawings or hang gliders were developed in 1948 for use as a wing on inexpensive aircraft. In 1958, NASA considered the parawing as a means of returning space payloads to Earth. While NASA did not select the parawing, the military became interested in it for parachuting. In the mid-1960s Pioneer Aerospace and Irvin Industries, parachute manufacturers, built parawings for the Army?s Golden Knights precision parachute team. NASA?s reentry parachute research was also the original source to inspire Francis and Gertrude Rogallo in their research into flexible controllable fabric airfoils with a...

1994

Digital imaging was developed in the mid-1960s to explore the surface of the Earth? moon. Conventional camera equipment mounted in the unmanned Ranger spacecraft returned distorted, lopsided images from the moon. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Dr. Robert Nathan began developing the first operational digital image processing software to address this problem. Digital Imaging - a process that turns analog signals into digital signals which are, in turn, fed into a computer for enhancement - returned sharp, accurate images of the lunar surface.  This began a steady stream of advances...
Excimer Laser Angioplasty, utilizing a laser system initially developed for satellite-based atmospheric studies, is now a powerful instrument for treating heart disease. Excimer laser technology was initially pioneered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for remote sensing of the ozone layer. Other laser types are too hot for delicate coronary surgery and could damage tissue, cause blood vessel spasms, or create blood clots. The excimer is a `cool` laser that uses ultraviolet light energy to operate at 65° C, a temperature human tissue can tolerate.  Laser angioplasty is a procedure where a...

1993

The liquid-cooled garment was developed to protect the Apollo astronauts from the high temperatures on the moon. The garment successfully maintained the astronauts - body temperatures at a comfortable level by utilizing a battery-powered mini-pump to circulate chilled water through a network of tubes in the garment. During the 1970s and 80s, several companies - Life Support Systems Inc., ILC Dover Inc., and Enviro-Med - obtained the technology and since then have been manufacturing and marketing cooling garments for commercial and medical uses.  This technology is now found in garments being...
The physiological monitoring instrumentation was developed to transmit astronaut physiological data to ground stations for monitoring and analysis. This family of technologies opened a whole new world of remote biological monitoring on Earth. Patients in locations away from a medical facility or in transit can be monitored and assisted. For example, heart readings can be acquired by an electrode and sent by wire to a telemetry transmitter attached to the patient? body.  The readings are then wirelessly relayed to a display console at a central station where medical personnel can...

1992

The Automatic Picture Transmission (APT) was first transmitted in December 1963 from TIROS VII (Television Infrared Observation Satellite) as an experiment. The purpose was to demonstrate the feasibility of sending images of cloud formations from the weather satellite direct to the user, anywhere on the face of the Earth. The only requirement was that the user must provide his own receiver and processing capability.  The program proved to be an instant success, especially for the detection of severe storms and for monitoring their movement. Ground systems designed by NASA were made simple and...
In 1978, the Science and Technology Laboratory (STL), formerly the Earth Resources Laboratory (ERL), at NASA's Stennis Space Center (SSC), began its program of image and geographical information system processing of satellite and airplane data. This data-gathering process is known as remote sensing. It is technology that enables meteorologists, scientists, climatologists, and others to monitor changing conditions on earth. Data is gathered from spaceborne sensors that detect various types of radiation obtained from the earth. The transformation of that data into useable information is...

1991

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) takes the lives of nearly a half million Americans each year. Some 80 percent die before medical help arrives and those who survive have faced a two-year heart attack recurrence rate as high as 55 percent. The Automatic Implantable Cardiovertor Defibrillator (AICD) gave new hope to these victims by lowering the recurrence rate to less than 3 percent.  This heart assist system, derived from NASA's space circuitry technology, works to prevent the erratic heart action known as arrhythmia. The AICD is a cardiac pacemaker device incorporating micro miniature circuits...
During the 1960s, research on protective coating materials at NASA?s Lewis Research Center demonstrated that a class of polymers known as condensation polymides could be fabricated into lightweight fiber reinforced plastics. These materials were capable of withstanding temperatures up to 600o F for thousands of hours but were not initially easily utilized. Lewis researchers, led by Dr. Tito T. Serafini, perfected an improved polymide composition that eliminated inconsistent chemistries, use of hazardous solvents, and other process/structural problems.  The material, called PMR-15, reacts...

1990

In the early days of NASA's space research, there was concern over problems of temperature control of non-rotating satellites. The side facing the sun would build up excessive heat, and the opposite side would become very cold, thus a serious threat to the survival of electronic and other spacecraft systems. To address the problem, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories invented the heat pipe as a passive (consumes no energy) heat transfer device where a working fluid alternately evaporates and condenses, transferring heat from one region of the tube to another.  Applied to NASA spacecraft, this...

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