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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.

1999

Since the 1970's when charged coupled devices (CCD's) were first developed, camera and video companies have been seeking to improve the technology. CCD's provide good image quality, but they are expensive, power hungry, and with the required accessory chips, bulky. Recognizing the shortcomings of CCD technology, and with the continuing need for lightweight imaging systems especially for interplanetary spacecraft applications, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) began research on a second-generation solid state image sensor technology. In late 1992 that research produced the complementary...
Based on turbine technology developed for use in liquid propellant rocket engines, this specially designed small, lightweight, high speed turbine pumps blood without damage to the delicate, individual blood cells. A joint effort beginning in 1988 between NASA and a group of doctors headed by Dr. Michael DeBakey led to development of this Ventricular Assist Device (VAD), a small, efficient axial flow blood pump.  In order to develop the high performance required of the liquid propellant Space Shuttle main engines, NASA pushed the state of the art in the technology of turbopump design. Using...
Proper heart rhythms can often be reestablished by the sudden discharge of stored energy in this pulsed-power device which uses a capacitor originally developed for space-based lasers and accelerators. In the mid-1980's, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) funded a company now named Maxwell Technologies to develop a high energy-density thin-film capacitor - a device that stores and discharges energy. Since then, derivatives of this technology are being applied in pulsed-power devices to purify water, sterilize medical products, preserve food, and power heart defibrillators.  At...
About one decade ago, the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), then the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, funded Silicon Designs to develop radiation-hardened accelerometers for kinetic energy vehicles to measure the change in velocity resulting from rocket motor firings that occur while changing trajectory. Smaller than a person's thumbnail, these devices have very low power requirements and can operate over a wide temperature range and after being exposed to space radiation for long periods of time.  The accelerometer contains two major components: a micro-electro-...

1998

The Global Positioning System (GPS) program began in 1973 when the U.S. military services and the Defense Mapping Agency combined resources to develop a highly accurate space-based navigation system. Functions not originally envisioned, such as communications system synchronization, search and rescue, precision approaches and landings, and GPS-assisted munitions, have come into common usage within the military community. GPS is managed by the NAVSTAR GPS Joint Program Office at the Space and Missile Systems Center near Los Angeles.  This multinational organization develops, acquires, and...
A NASA research program aimed at improving crash protection for airplane passengers gave impetus to the development of a cushioning material that is now used in Space Shuttle seats as well as in many commercial applications. With the idea of developing a new airline seat to provide better impact protection and comfort during long flights, NASA Ames Research Center developed an open-cell polyurethane-silicon plastic foam that takes the shape of impressed objects but returns to its original shape even after 90 percent compression. There is no shock or bounce on sudden impact; a three-inch foam...

1997

With an ever-increasing market for satellite generated information, new advanced satellite communications methods for transmitting tremendous amounts of information are needed. NASA ascertained that an all-digital, gigabit-capacity communications system was necessary to handle the growing demand and produced the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS).  Launched in 1993, the satellite uses advanced on-board switching and processing technology that permit on-demand allocation of satellite channels and reuse of bandwidth. ACTS also features significant capacity gain through the use...
The ability to see faint objects, such as distant galaxies, is a critical element of the Hubble Space Telescope's mission. NASA researchers found that available technology could not meet Hubble's stringent requirements. A joint development effort between NASA and Scientific Imaging Technologies, Inc. (SITe) developed a new charged coupled device technology fulfilling the rigorous needs. The new technology was ideal for application to breast cancer detection because of common requirements between space and medical imaging, such as high resolution to see fine details, wide dynamic range and low...

1996

One of the potential hazards confronted by astronauts is the shifting of bodily fluids that occur as a result of changing gravity levels. During the Apollo program, NASA's Ames Research Center began conducting research on the use of pilot `anti-G` suits for possible astronaut use. These anti-G suits were developed for pilots of high-performance aircraft who experienced rapid gravity changes.  A key component of the suits is trousers that contain pneumatic bladders to counteract the fluid shifts. The development efforts of the Ames researchers successfully produced protection suits that have...
One of the tragedies of the early space program was a fire that occurred in an Apollo module causing the deaths of three astronauts. On investigation of the fire, it was found that some of the materials utilized in the spacecraft, such as polyurethane foam in seats, were highly flammable. NASA initiated an extensive research program to develop new flame resistant materials and/or ways to reduce the flammability of existing materials. Research on the flammability of polymers indicated that many of these materials could be protected from direct ignition by the use of a coating of fire-...

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