January 11, 2006

Technology that Came from Outer Space

NASA -- There are space invaders in your home, but they're not like creatures from a 1950s science fiction movie. They're products you use often, perhaps without realizing they came from space technology and innovation.

About 50 years have passed since the beginning of the Space Age, and most of these products have become so commonplace that their origins rooted in man's efforts to explore the universe may have been forgotten.

It's easier to see the connection between high-tech innovations in fields like medical research and industry, but you'll find many space-developed or improved products literally at arm's reach -- like in your kitchen, for instance.

If you have a trash compactor or water filter, they qualify for the space-born list. And so does the smoke detector that warns you when your toast is burning.

If you grab a Dustbusterâ“ž¢ to clean up those burnt toast crumbs, you're using yet another one from this list. If the mess is too big, you might use your space-improved vacuum cleaner instead. Maybe your water is heated by either a solar or tankless water heater. Both of these innovations qualify, as does a water conditioner.

After all that work in the kitchen, you might check the time on your quartz clock that came from space technology as well. If you grab a soda, you'll be holding two innovations in your hand.  Plastic beverage containers benefited from the developments in liquid crystal polymers, and the bar code on the side was originally developed to track millions of spacecraft parts.

But you won't only find space-inspired products in your kitchen. For the do-it-yourselfers, the cordless-tool revolution is a down-to-Earth innovation spawned by the needs of working in space.

Homes in general have been improved in other ways through Space-Age technology, such as security systems and better insulation that provides more efficient heating and cooling.

So look around you. Your house may not look like something out of "The Jetsons" cartoon, but the real-life influences of space-born inventions and improvements are a part of your daily life.

For more information, visit the NASA Spinoffs site.