Friday, August 28, 2009
Jewelry Design - Jewelers no longer have to worry about inhaling dangerous asbestos fibers from the blocks they use as soldering bases. space shuttle heat shield tiles offer jewelers a safer soldering base with temperature resistance far beyond the 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit generated by the jeweler's torch.
Land Mine Removal Device - The same rocket fuel that helps launch the space shuttle is now being used to save lives— by destroying land mines. A flare device, using leftover fuel donated by NASA, is placed next to the uncovered land mine and is ignited from a safe distance using a battery-triggered electric match. The explosive burns away, disabling the mine and rendering it harmless.
Lifesaving Light - Special lighting technology developed for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions is being studied to treat brain tumors in children. Doctors at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee are working with light emitting diodes in a treatment called photodynamic therapy, a form of chemotherapy, to kill cancerous tumors.
Prosthesis Material - Responding to a request from the orthopedic appliance industry, NASA recommended that the foam insulation used to protect the shuttle's external tank replace the heavy, fragile plaster used to produce master molds for prosthetics. The new material is light, virtually indestructible and easy to ship and store.
Rescue Tool - Rescue squads have a new extrication tool to help remove accident victims from wrecked vehicles. The hand-held device requires no auxiliary power systems or cumbersome hoses and is 70 percent cheaper than previous rescue equipment. The cutter uses a miniature version of the explosive charges that separate devices on the shuttle.
Vehicle Tracking System - Tracking information originally used onboard Space Shuttle missions now helps track vehicles on Earth. This commercial spinoff allows vehicles to transmit a signal back to a home base. Municipalities today use the software to track and reassign emergency and public works vehicles. It also is used by vehicle fleet operations, such as taxis, armored cars and vehicles carrying hazardous cargo.
Video Stabilization Software - Image-processing technology used to analyze Space Shuttle launch video and to study meteorological images also helps law enforcement agencies improve crime-solving video. The technology removes defects due to image jitter, image rotation and image zoom in video sequences. The technology also may be useful for medical imaging, scientific applications and home video.
And these are just some of the 'spin-offs' that came from the space program. I am not saying that these advancements would never have happened were it not for NASA, but the fact is that the space program eats a very minor portion of the national budget, yet returns far more than just pretty pictures from space. Can anyone say that about the wars in Iraq and Iran?
Thanks for tuning in.