Student Features

NASA's 'Spinoff'
Spinoff magazine cover for 2003
In the 1958 Space Act that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) it was stipulated that NASA's vast body of scientific and technical knowledge should also "benefit mankind." These benefits are commonly referred to as 'NASA spinoffs.' Every day, in an astounding variety of ways, American lives are affected positively by our Nation's investment in NASA.

Image to right: This year's issue showcases innovations such as the cochlear implant in health and medicine, a cockpit weather system in transportation, and a smoke mask benefiting public safety; many other products are featured in these disciplines. Credit: NASA

Spinoff is NASA's annual premiere publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. For more than 40 years, the NASA Commercial Technology Program has facilitated the transfer of NASA technology to the private sectors. The resulting commercialization has contributed to the development of commercial products and services in the fields of health and medicine, industry, consumer goods, computer technology and environment. Through distribution and outreach activities, NASA technology has benefited global competition and the economy. Since 1976, Spinoff has featured between 40 and 50 of these commercial products annually.

Criteria for being featured in Spinoff:
  1. A product was designed for NASA use, to NASA specifications, and then commercialized.
  2. A component or process involving NASA technology was:
    1. used in manufacturing the product.
    2. integral to the product's existence or commercialization.
    3. a design modification of an existing product.
  3. NASA Center laboratory personnel made significant contributions to designers of the product, including the use of NASA facilities for testing purposes.
  4. Successful entrepreneurial endeavors by ex-NASA employees whose technical expertise was developed while employed by NASA.
  5. A product is commercialized as the result of a NASA patent license or waiver, including patents waived to the inventors.
  6. Technology Transfer programs or activities contributed to the product development and commercialization (e.g., Tech Briefs, RTTCs, COSMIC, Applications Projects). Preferably, software examples will involve use of NASA-generated programs, and RTTC examples will permit identification of specific NASA technical information (e.g., reports) or other NASA assistance that was useful to the industrial clients.
  7. A commercial product developed as a result of the NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program.
Copies of the 'Spinoff' magazine are available through the Spinoff Web site.
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The Spinoff Database

What information is available in the NASA Spinoff database?

The NASA Spinoff database contains abstracts of articles featured in NASA's annual publication Spinoff since 1976. The abstracts are a representative sampling of spinoff products and processes that resulted from technology utilization, or secondary application.

The Spinoff database will help you find products/services that incorporate NASA technology in such areas as health and medicine, environment, public safety, consumer/home/recreation, transportation, computer technology and industrial productivity. You can find the date of the publication, page number, the center responsible for the technology, and the original NASA program in which the technology was developed if applicable.

Spinoff Database
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Adapted from Spinoff Online