National Aeronautics and
John C. Stennis Space Center
(228) 688-3341 June 12, 2004
|Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
Paul Foerman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NASA News Chief
APOLLO MISSIONS MADE GIANT LEAPS FOR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. — When Americans awoke this morning to their digital alarm clocks, strapped on their quartz watches, turned on their satellite dish television receivers to catch the morning news, grabbed their cell phones and laptops, and dressed their children in flame-retardant clothes and clean diapers, NASA was probably not on their minds.
Many of the technologies that make life safer and more comfortable are actually spin-offs from NASA’s Apollo space program. This summer, NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC) and its free visitor center, StenniSphere, is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the landmark Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the Moon. America’s largest rocket test complex, SSC tested the rocket engines that took Americans to the Moon and today tests all the Space Shuttle’s Main Engines.
A new exhibit at SSC pays tribute to the Apollo program’s legacy that continues to play a part in our everyday lives.
For example, quartz crystals, used in most clocks and watches, were first developed as a highly accurate, lightweight timing device for the Apollo spacecraft. NASA’s satellite communications technology, the basis for satellite TV and phone systems, has been developed over the past 30 years.
Lightweight, fire-resistant, heat-protective fabrics were originally developed for Apollo spacesuits. Aluminum composite materials used to make Apollo astronauts’ breathing tanks now protect firefighters from smoke inhalation.
The super-absorbent fabric used in disposable diapers was developed so Apollo astronauts could stay on spacewalks for six hours or more. The fabric can hold up to 400 times its own weight.
Shock-absorbing material used in Moon boots helped astronauts walk safely on the Moon, and makes today’s athletic shoes lighter and more stable.
Some of the most important innovations to come out of the Apollo missions to the Moon are those that have advanced medical science. Programmable pacemakers and implantable heart monitors use telemetry, which helped Mission Control monitor astronauts’ health through a wireless communication system. The same telemetry allows hospital nurses to monitor several patients from one station.
Magnetic resonance imaging and computer-aided tomography scans analyze bone and tissue to see inside the body without invasive surgery. Both technologies sprang from NASA’s need to computer-enhance the images taken on the Moon.
Liquid-cooled garments used by hospitals to regulate patients’ body heat are a direct descendant of the suits that kept astronauts cool on the lunar surface, where temperatures can reach 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
These are but a few of the innovative technologies that were developed as a result of NASA’s Apollo program. More recently, NASA technology has been used to create a video game plug-in that uses brain waves and neurofeedback to stimulate players’ brains. The system helps improve mental awareness, especially in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Technology from a desk-sized Space Shuttle Main Engine turbopump is now being used to save lives. A tiny ventricular assist device weighs less than 4 ounces and has only one moving part. The pump has been implanted in more than 240 adult heart patients to keep them alive until a transplant donor can be found, and has been credited with sustaining weakened hearts long enough to repair themselves.
Solar energy, bulletproof vests, flat screen TVs, desktop computers, and battery-powered cordless tools are all offshoots of NASA technology. Other spinoffs include:
- Joysticks for video games
- Automatic bank tellers
- Dry lubricants
- Silver ion water purifiers
Satellite communications. To learn more about the Apollo program’s legacy in everyday life or other spin-off technologies, visit www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/spinoff.html.
The Apollo 11 exhibit will remain on display at StenniSphere through the summer. StenniSphere’s summer hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Tours begin at the Launch Pad, Exit 2, I-10, near Bay St. Louis. Admission to StenniSphere is free. For more information about StenniSphere, call (228) 688-2370 or (800) 237-1821, or visit /centers/ssc/public/visitors.
News releases provided by NASA’s Stennis Space Center are available at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ssc/news/newsreleases/2004. For more information, call the NASA Public Affairs Office at Stennis at 1-800-237-1821 in Mississippi and Louisiana only, or (228) 688-3341.
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