Monday, August 24, 2009
What Has NASA Done For You, Part 1
It seems that most conversations about the manned space program these days eventually come around to the cost. Even though the budget for NASA is approximately one half of one percent of the national budget, people tend to think that all NASA does is waste money launching scientists into space. Fortunately for you, my wonderful readers, we have an Unkk on our side. He sent me a lengthy list of things that affect our daily lives that are a direct result of the manned space program. There are a lot of them, so I'll break this up over several posts, but the next time some yob mouths off about how the money could be better spent building a sport stadium, or other such nonsense, here is some ammo to use.
Cooling Suits Provide Comfort
Cool suits, which kept Apollo astronauts comfortable during moon walks, are today worn by race car drivers, nuclear reactor technicians, shipyard workers, people with multiple sclerosis and children with a congenital disorder known as hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, which restricts the body’s ability to cool itself.
Recycling Fluids for Space Missions Simplifies Kidney Dialysis
Special kidney dialysis machines were created as a result of a NASA-developed chemical process that removes toxic waste from used dialysis fluid. The process saves electricity and eliminates the need for a continuous water supply, granting the patient greater freedom.
Astronaut Conditioning Equipment Keeps People Fit
A cardiovascular conditioner developed for astronauts in space led to the invention of a physical therapy and athletic development machine used by football teams, sports clinics, and medical rehabilitation centers.
Space Suit Technology Modernizes Athletic Shoes
Athletic shoe design and manufacturing also benefited from Apollo. Space suit technology is incorporated into a shoe's external shell, and a stress-free "blow molding" process adapted from NASA space suit design is used in the shoe's fabrication.
Reflective Materials Insulate Homes
Insulating barriers made of metalized foil laid over a core of propylene or mylar, which protected astronauts and their spacecraft's delicate instruments from radiation and heat, are now found in common home insulation. Vacuum metalizing techniques also led to an extensive line of commercial products, from insulated outer garments to packaging for foods, from wall coverings to window shades, from life rafts to candy wrappings, and from reflective safety blankets to photographic reflectors.
Apollo Life Support Systems Filter Water
Water purification technology used on the Apollo spacecraft is now employed in several spinoff applications to kill bacteria, viruses and algae in community water supply systems and cooling towers. Filters mounted on faucets reduce lead in water supplies.
Freeze-Dried Foods Preserve Nutrients, Increase Shelf Life
Freeze-dried food solved the problem of what to feed an astronaut on the long-duration Apollo missions. Freeze drying foods preserves nutritional value and taste, while also reducing weight and increasing shelf life.
So there's your first batch. Tune in tomorrow for more of What has NASA done for you?