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June 16, 1998

Doug Peterson
Johnson Space Center
Phone: 281/483-5111

Release: J98-22

Business, Industry, Education and Civic Leaders Invited to JSC to Learn How Space Benefits Boost Private Sector Capabilities

Bringing the benefits of space down to Earth for industrial, scientific, medical and educational application is the focus of displays and demonstrations this fall at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Called Inspection 98, the event scheduled for Oct. 14-16, will be the third in a growing and increasingly successful series of yearly meetings for those in various areas of the private sector, educators and community leaders.

For almost four decades Johnson Space Center has been the world leader in human spaceflight operations, and many of the required technical advances have resulted in commercial applications. JSC Center Director George Abbey said of the mid-October event, "Our mission at Johnson Space Center is human exploration and development of space. At Inspection 98 we will introduce visitors to NASA-developed technologies that can be utilized to solve problems on Earth, and put our guests in touch with the engineers and scientists who are designing the missions of tomorrow."

Activities at Johnson Space Center range from recruiting and training astronauts to all areas of spaceflight operations. They include programs from spacecraft development to aircraft operations, from materials analysis and testing through advanced communications and management.

As NASA’s lead center for human space flight, the Johnson Space Center has a variety of unique world-class facilities. Many of the technologies developed at the center already are meeting manufacturing, medical, educational and other challenges. Some of those applications are a result of contacts initiated at the two previous inspection events, Inspection 96 and Inspection 97.

The diverse center activities will highlight opportunities for application in a wide range of industrial and business areas including:

· Information technology, · Biotechnology, · Energy, · Environmental protection and remediation, · Aerospace, · Agriculture, · Medicine, · Robotics and automation, · Petrochemicals, · Manufacturing, · Transportation, and · Training.

Two years ago, Inspection 96, a two-day event, drew more than 1,200 attendees from companies in 28 states. Among them were employees from the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center in Lubbock. "We saw a lot of manufacturing technologies that we had heard about but never seen," one attendee said. "We saw things that NASA is trying to commercialize that we can take directly back to small manufacturing businesses to use."

At the Inspection, a representative for Montana Biotech, a small laboratory near Yellowstone National Park, met space scientist Dr. Carl Allen and discovered a common pursuit, research of bacteria that live in extreme environments, "extremophiles." The company researches possible uses of the bacteria living in the hot springs at Yellowstone, while at the same time NASA is developing processes for handling Mars samples brought back from future trips to the planet. Montana Biotech’s expertise in extremophiles turned out to be a natural fit with NASA’s need for greater knowledge of how to handle and sterilize samples which may have similar life forms. Stemming from that initial Inspection contact, a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement was signed between NASA and Montana Biotech to help NASA acquire specialized expertise and helped Montana Biotech explore unexpected uses of its capabilities. Inspection 96 offered 120 exhibits and demonstrations in 17 buildings. Inspection 97 grew to three days, with more than 185 exhibits in 22 buildings. It attracted about 2,400 attendees from 45 states and 13 countries. The number of visitors is expected to grow substantially for Inspection 98, as is the number of exhibits.

Inspection 98 will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. October 14, 15, and 16, with registration each day beginning at 7:30 a.m. Pre-registration is highly recommended. For more information or to register for Inspection 98, visit the Inspection 98 website at http://inspection.jsc.nasa.gov or fax (281) 244-1316, phone at (218) 483-9193, or email to inspection@jsc.nasa.gov.

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