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Space Technology Hall of Fame

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.

2015

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...
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

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...
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

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...
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

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 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...

2011

Geospatial technology using Earth-imaging satellites has reshaped our view of the world, improving national security, logistics and navigation, mapping, disease and natural disaster tracking and a myriad of other applications. Featuring highly accurate cameras on satellites positioned in orbit above the Earth, the commercial earth-imaging business grew out of Cold War military applications for reconnaissance missions that photographed classified military installations. Today, commercial satellite imagery providers, including Space Technology Hall of Fame® honorees DigitalGlobe, Inc., and...
For decades, medical researchers have taken advantage of the unique aspects of microgravity to develop or grow materials that cannot be made on Earth. For example, cell cultures grown on Earth are only two-dimensional because gravity causes the cells to sink within their growth medium, whereas normal cells grow three-dimensionally in the body. In the 1980s, NASA researchers studying this phenomenon had to halt their work when the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy grounded the Shuttle fleet, thus blocking access to the microgravity of space. As an alternate, they developed a device called the...

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