Suggested Searches

Benefits of Space Exploration


One of the familiar complaints that NASA receives when its budget comes up for approval is that “…the money really ought to be spent down here instead of up there”. Leaving aside the fact that NASA’s civil servants and contractors all live here on Earth, and thus the money is spent here, NASA’s fifty years of research and development have resulted in a wide range of inventions and processes, ranging from the complexity of image processing through the simplicity of fire-resistant kid’s pyjamas.

One facet of NASA’s research, aviation safety, is a continuing legacy from NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. It is so important to the public that it has a NASA HQ library webpage to itself. If you are a NASA HQ employee, please consider subscribing to our news alert on aviation safety to get the latest news.

This webpage will help you get a general overview of what NASA’s inventions and developments have done to make our lives easier. If you would like to know the paths NASA’s inventions take from lab benches to store shelves, please visit our webpage on the Diffusion of Innovations. If you would like to see how NASA’s research and development efforts aid America’s economy in dollars and cents, please visit our webpage on Measuring Return on Investment for Government Programs and Agencies. If you are interested in seeing how private industry is going forward in space, please visit our webpage on Space Commercialization and Space Tourism. If you are a NASA HQ employee, please consider subscribing to our news alert on commercialization and technology transfer to get the latest news.

All items are available at the Headquarters Library, except as noted. NASA Headquarters employees and contractors: Call x0168 or email for information on borrowing or in-library use of any of these items. Members of the public: Contact your local library for the availability of these items. NASA Headquarters employees can request additional materials or research on this topic. The Library welcomes your comments or suggestions about this webpage.


Baker, David. Scientific American Inventions From Outer Space: Everyday Uses for NASA Technology. New York, NY: Random House, 2000.
T212 .B33 2000 BOOKSTACKS

Bijlefeld, Marjolijn, and Robert L. Burke, Jr. It Came From Outer Space: Everyday Products and Ideas From the Space Program. Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, 2003.
TL865 .I83 2003 BOOKSTACKS

Dick, Steven J., and Roger D. Launius (eds.). Societal Impact of Spaceflight. Washington, DC: NASA, 2007.
CB440 .S63 2007 BOOKSTACKS
Also available through the website of the NASA History Office in two parts, part 1 and part 2.

History Channel (Television network). Modern Marvels: It Came From Outer Space. Las Vegas, NV: Hybrid Technologies, 2007.
TL865 .M634 2007 DVD

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA Earth Observations: Serving Society. Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2007.
TL521.312 .N364 2007 BOOKSTACKS

__________. Office of Public Affairs. NASA Hits: How NASA Improves Our Quality of Life. Washington, DC: NASA Public Affairs Office, 2004.
T173.4 .N59 2004 BOOKSTACKS
Also available as a flash presentation.

National Research Council. Committee on Scientific Accomplishments of Earth Observations from Space. Earth Observations From Space: The First 50 years of Scientific Achievements. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2008.
QE33.2 .R4 N385 2008 BOOKSTACKS
Also available as a CD and available as an e-book through the National Academies Press.

United States Space Foundation. Space Technology Hall of Fame, 2005. Colorado Springs, CO: Space Foundation, 2005
TL865 .S6 2005 DVD


All e-books listed here are available to NASA civil servants and contractors through the Books 24×7 service of SATERN.

Evans, B.G. (ed.) Satellite Communications Systems, 3rd Edition. IET, 1999.

Olla, Philip (ed.). Commerce in Space: Infrastructures, Technologies, and Applications. IGI Global, 2008.

Pick, James P. Geo-Business: GIS in the Digital Organization. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

The e-book listed below is available to the general public through the National Academies Press.

Committee on Extending Observations and Research Results to Practical Applications: A Review of NASA’s Approach. 
Assessment of the NASA Applied Sciences Program. 2007.


  • Aerospace America
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Aviation Week and Space Technology
  • NASA Tech Briefs
  • Spinoff
  • Technological Innovation


Beaudwin, Trish. NASA Search and Rescue Mission Office. Nov. 1, 2010 [Nov. 19, 2010].

Boen, Brooke. NASA in Your Life. Nov. 19, 2010. [Nov. 19, 2010].

Jones, John. Spinoff. March 25, 2010 [Nov. 19, 2010].

NASA Tech Briefs. 2009 [Nov. 19, 2010].

Netting, Ruth. Applied Sciences Program. April 8, 2010. [Nov. 19, 2010].

Orans, Robin. NASA TechFinder. June 1, 2010 [Nov. 19, 2010].

Short, Nicholas. Remote Sensing Tutorial. April 28, 2010 [Nov. 19, 2010].

Talbert, Tricia. NASA Innovative Partnerships Program. Oct. 4, 2010 [Nov. 19, 2010].

Townsend, Jason. NASA Nebula Cloud Computing Platform. April 26, 2010 [Nov. 19, 2010].

Space Foundation. Space Technology Hall of Fame. 2010 [Nov. 19, 2010].