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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.

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-...
Spacecraft are subject to temperature extremes that range from 400° F above zero to 400° below zero. Protecting astronauts from these extreme temperatures was a prime concern for NASA spacecraft designers. NASA researchers sought after a temperature control technology for the Apollo spacecraft that would provide a barrier which was both lightweight and flexible and had sufficient durability to withstand the rigors of space. After considerable effort, a process technology was developed that permitted producing plastic films coated with a thin layer of aluminum. These thin metallized plastics...

1995

NASA has had requirements for anti-corrosion coating for use in many space-related applications. For example, one need was for a superior coating to protect gantries and other related launch structures at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. At coastal facilities where external structures are subject to the corrosive effects of ocean spray and fog, an effective anti-corrosion coating was important to protect the valuable hardware and substantially reduce maintenance costs. At KSC, an acceptable coating also had to be able to withstand the extremely hot exhaust and thermal shock...
Parawings or hang gliders were developed in 1948 for use as a wing on inexpensive aircraft. In 1958, NASA considered the parawing as a means of returning space payloads to Earth. While NASA did not select the parawing, the military became interested in it for parachuting. In the mid-1960s Pioneer Aerospace and Irvin Industries, parachute manufacturers, built parawings for the Army?s Golden Knights precision parachute team. NASA?s reentry parachute research was also the original source to inspire Francis and Gertrude Rogallo in their research into flexible controllable fabric airfoils with a...

1994

Digital imaging was developed in the mid-1960s to explore the surface of the Earth? moon. Conventional camera equipment mounted in the unmanned Ranger spacecraft returned distorted, lopsided images from the moon. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Dr. Robert Nathan began developing the first operational digital image processing software to address this problem. Digital Imaging - a process that turns analog signals into digital signals which are, in turn, fed into a computer for enhancement - returned sharp, accurate images of the lunar surface.  This began a steady stream of advances...
Excimer Laser Angioplasty, utilizing a laser system initially developed for satellite-based atmospheric studies, is now a powerful instrument for treating heart disease. Excimer laser technology was initially pioneered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for remote sensing of the ozone layer. Other laser types are too hot for delicate coronary surgery and could damage tissue, cause blood vessel spasms, or create blood clots. The excimer is a `cool` laser that uses ultraviolet light energy to operate at 65° C, a temperature human tissue can tolerate.  Laser angioplasty is a procedure where a...

1993

The liquid-cooled garment was developed to protect the Apollo astronauts from the high temperatures on the moon. The garment successfully maintained the astronauts - body temperatures at a comfortable level by utilizing a battery-powered mini-pump to circulate chilled water through a network of tubes in the garment. During the 1970s and 80s, several companies - Life Support Systems Inc., ILC Dover Inc., and Enviro-Med - obtained the technology and since then have been manufacturing and marketing cooling garments for commercial and medical uses.  This technology is now found in garments being...

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