Enriched Baby Food
Commercially available infant formulas now contain a nutritional enrichment ingredient that traces its existence to the NASA-sponsored research that explored the potential of algae as a recycling agent for long duration space travel. The substance, formulated into the products, life’sDHA and life’sARA, can be found in over 90 percent of the infant formulas sold in the United States, and are added to the infant formulas sold in over 65 additional countries. It was developed and is manufactured by Martek Biosciences Corporation, which has pioneered the commercial development of products based on microalgae; the company’s founders and principal scientists acquired their expertise in this area while working on the NASA program.
NASA engineers are collaborating with qualified companies to develop a complex system of devices intended to sustain the astronauts living on the International Space Station and, in the future, those who go on to explore the Moon. This system, tentatively scheduled for launch in 2008, will make use of available resources by turning wastewater from respiration, sweat, and urine into drinkable water. Commercially, this system is benefiting people all over the world who need affordable, clean water. By combining the benefits of chemical adsorption, ion exchange, and ultra-filtration processes, products using this technology yield safe, drinkable water from the most challenging sources, such as in underdeveloped regions where well water may be heavily contaminated.
Portable Cordless Vacuums
Apollo & Gemini space mission technologies created by Black & Decker have helped change the way we clean around the house. For the Apollo space mission, NASA required a portable, self-contained drill capable of extracting core samples from below the lunar surface. Black & Decker was tasked with the job, and developed a computer program to optimize the design of the drill’s motor and insure minimal power consumption. That computer program led to the development of a cordless miniature vacuum cleaner called the Dustbuster.
Refrigerator Internet-Connected Wall Ovens
“"Embedded Web Technology" (EWT) software-originally developed by NASA for use by astronauts operating experiments on available laptops from anywhere on the International Space Station-lets a user monitor and/or control a device remotely over the internet. NASA supplied this technology and guidance to TMIO, LLC who went on to develop a low-cost, real-time remote control and monitoring of a new intelligent oven product named ConnectIo. With combined cooling and heating capabilities, ConnectIo provides the convenience of being able to store cold food where it will remain properly refrigerated until a customized pre-programmable cooking cycle begins. The menu allows the user to simply enter the dinner time, and the oven automatically switches from refrigeration to the cooking cycle, so that the meal will be ready as the family arrives home for dinner.
Freeze Dried Technology
In planning for the long duration Apollo missions, NASA conducted extensive research into space food. One of the techniques developed was freeze drying-Action Products commercialized this technique, concentrating on snack food. The foods are cooked, quickly frozen and then slowly heated in a vacuum chamber to remove the ice crystals formed by the freezing process. The final product retains 98 percent of its nutrition and weighs only 20 percent of its original weight. Today, one of the benefits of this advancement in food preparation includes simple nutritious meals available to handicapped and otherwise homebound senior adults unable to take advantage of existing meal programs sponsored by government and private organizations.
Harnessing Solar Energy
Homes across the country are now being outfitted with modern, high-performance, low-cost, single crystal silicon solar power cells that allow them to reduce their traditional energy expenditures and contribute to pollution reduction. The advanced technology behind these solar devices-which are competitively-priced and provide up to 50 percent more power than conventional solar cells-originated with the efforts of a NASA-sponsored 28-member coalition of companies, government groups, universities, and nonprofits forming ERAST Alliance. ERAST’s goal was to foster the development of remotely-piloted aircraft intended to fly unmanned at high altitudes for days at a time, requiring advanced solar power sources that did not add weight. As a result, SunPower Corporation created the most advanced silicon-based cells available for terrestrial or airborne applications that are currently being outfitted to homes across the country.