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Space Technology Hall of Fame

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Inducted Technologies

The Space Technology Hall of Fame® comprises many extraordinary innovations - all derived from or significantly improved by space research or exploration. Learn about the inducted technologies and the innovators here. You can scroll through all the years or find something specific using the handy search bar above. 

To nominate a technology, please download our Official Nomination Form or visit our Nominate a Technology page to learn more about the Space Technology Hall of Fame® selection criteria.

2016

Medtronic lead using LaRC Soluble Imide
Like so many prized finds, this discovery was unexpected. While at NASA Langley developing materials for high-speed civil transport and lightweight rocket bodies, Dr. Robert Bryant noticed that an experimental polymer that should have turned into a powder instead remained soluble. Others repeated his experiment with the same results.  When Dr. Bryant left the research program there were no known applications for the material, but he continued research and developed what is now known as LaRC-SI: a durable thermoplastic readily fabricated in very thin form. The critical characteristic that lead...
An example of Landsat data
Dr. Alain Gachet founded Radar Technologies International in 1999 to use satellite generated remote-sensing data to identify probable locations of precious metals. Analyzing satellite data in pursuit of precious metals in the Libyan Desert, Dr. Gachet made a surprising discovery. He identified a significant water leak in the Libyan water pipeline and realized that he could use satellite data to locate water. Dr. Gachet developed the WATEX system to pinpoint drilling locations with the highest probability of success. The system uses a variety of data with the primary sources being: NASA's...

2015

Chronos Vision Technology
In the late 1990’s, NASA approached the German Space Agency (DLR) to develop technology to measure the precise eye movements of astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle. A program called the “Life Sciences Working Group” was created and housed in DLR’s Division of Manned Spaceflight.  DLR approached physicist Dr. Friedrich Baartz to apply his expertise in this area. Dr. Baartz teamed with Dr. Andrew Clarke – a professor in the Charité Medical School in Berlin – to take advantage of his experience in vestibular research and study of eye movements.  Applying funding from DLR, Dr. Baartz and his team...
Taylor Devices, Seismic Damper Technology
In the 1960’s, Taylor Devices was awarded a NASA contract to develop a system to safely disengage hoses and mechanical gear jettisoned off of launch vehicles.   These first motion dampening systems were hydraulic dampers controlled by electronic valves.  While this approach safely contained the motion of the gear, the system itself was complex and prone to reliability issues.   A brief partnership with Honeywell to develop a high-speed analog computer using oil-based hydraulics ended quickly with the advent of transistors. However, it was this research that led to the discovery of fluidics-...

2014

Cospas-Sarsat
In 1979, four countries came together to develop global approach to satellite based search-and-rescue. The United States, France, Canada and the Soviet Union agreed to jointly develop a worldwide system. By 1985, that global system known as Cospas-Sarsat was fully operational. Since its inception, this satellite based system has rescued more than 32,000 people. The first generation used low Earth orbits satellites to detect emergency signals and repeat them to ground stations where Doppler processing provided the signal location. To further improve signal location accuracy NASA led an effort...
The Neuroarm - Symbis Space Robotics, Space Technology Hall of Fame inductee
In 1969, NASA invited Canada to participate in the space shuttle program. A request for proposals for a Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) resulted in a proposal led by Spar Aerospace – now MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) and which included CAE Electronics, RCA Canada and Dilworth, Secord, Meagher and Associates. With Canadian government support, the National Research Council of Canada began studies on a manipulator system and in 1975 Canada and NASA launched a $110 million development program. The first SRMS or Canadarm system was donated to NASA and was followed by four...

2013

GATR Ground Antenna Transmit and Receive
A public/private partnership between NASA Glenn Research Center and SRS Technologies led to an extraordinary new product. The GATR Communication System is a portable, rapidly deployed, inflatable antenna that targets a geostationary satellite to establish critical communications for any mission scenario. In 1997, SRS Technologies (now ManTech International Technologies) received an NASA SBIR contract to develop a solar concentrator for power generation. While developing an inflatable model, SRS researchers realized that a variant could be used for ground-based communications. In 2004 GATR...
Mediphan technology, DistanceDoc - MedRecorder being used on the International Space Station
Diagnosing medical issues in space can be challenging. Traditional imaging devices like MRI and CAT Scan are much too large, heavy and energy-hungry for practical use on existing spacecraft. Alternately, compact and low-power ultrasound promises to be the diagnostic tool of choice for future human space missions. In 2000, NASA approached Dr. Scott Dulchavsky of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit to develop medical ultrasound remote diagnostic techniques for use by non-expert astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The goal was to create the basis for an operational telemedicine...

2012

FireWatch technology
DLR and the private firm IQ Wireless took technology developed by DLR to analyze gases and particles in space and created a terrestrial detection tool known as FireWatch that uses high-resolution optical sensors installed on towers or masts that connect to a remote central office to monitor forests and detect potential fires.  With sensors that can distinguish between more than 16,000 scales of grey, the system can spot developing fires in virtually any weather, day or night, resulting in a detection rate of more than 90 percent. FireWatch image processing software analyzes the motion,...
Flexible Aerogel technology inductee
Flexible aerogels were originally developed to serve as a barrier to the extreme temperatures that occur during rocket launches and that affect spacecraft as they are exposed to both high heat and severe cold. Because the initial silica aerogels were fragile and expensive, NASA contracted with James Fesmire, senior principal investigator of the Cryogenics Test Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center, and the startup company Aspen Systems Inc. to produce affordable and easy-to-use aerogel composite blankets for space applications. Aspen Aerogels continued its development of the product to produce...

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