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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.

1991

During the 1960s, research on protective coating materials at NASA?s Lewis Research Center demonstrated that a class of polymers known as condensation polymides could be fabricated into lightweight fiber reinforced plastics. These materials were capable of withstanding temperatures up to 600o F for thousands of hours but were not initially easily utilized. Lewis researchers, led by Dr. Tito T. Serafini, perfected an improved polymide composition that eliminated inconsistent chemistries, use of hazardous solvents, and other process/structural problems.  The material, called PMR-15, reacts...

1990

In the early days of NASA's space research, there was concern over problems of temperature control of non-rotating satellites. The side facing the sun would build up excessive heat, and the opposite side would become very cold, thus a serious threat to the survival of electronic and other spacecraft systems. To address the problem, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories invented the heat pipe as a passive (consumes no energy) heat transfer device where a working fluid alternately evaporates and condenses, transferring heat from one region of the tube to another.  Applied to NASA spacecraft, this...
In the 1960s, NASA's Langley Research Center initiated an extensive research program to develop a method to reduce the incidence of aircraft tire hydroplaning, a condition that occurs during rainstorms when tires rolling or sliding along water-covered pavement are lifted away from the surface by the action of water pressure. Aircraft tire hydroplaning was considered the primary cause of uncontrolled skidding during inclement weather conditions. Researchers at Langley developed a successful method of cutting thin grooves across concrete runways, thus creating channels through which excess...

1989

NASA scientists, in order to conduct a thorough study of the Moon's soil, needed samples from both the lunar surface and subsurface. Digging into the hard lunar surface layer demanded a lightweight, compact power drill capable of drilling 10 feet below the surface. To top those requirements, the drill also needed its own independent power source. The Black & Decker Corporation - working with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center - responded with a battery-operated, magnetometer system. Black & Decker used a unique computer program to optimize the design of the drill's motor and ensure...
In the late 1960s, NASA's Johnson Space Center went searching for a lightweight, non-combustible fabric durable and strong enough to protect the astronauts in an alien, zero-gravity environment. One American company, Chemical Fabrics, a specialty weaver and coater, was already experimenting with advanced composites. ChemFab wove the specially designed Owens Corning Fiberglass yarn into a fabric, and then coated it with custom Teflon formulations. The fabric was tailored for astronaut wear. Collaborating with Owens Corning and Dupont, ChemFab modified and strengthened the fabric with an eye...
For decades, ground and polished glass had been the preferred lens in the eyeglass industry. That changed in 1972 when the Food and Drug Administration issued a regulation that all sunglasses and prescription lenses must be shatter-resistant. The main disadvantage to glass is its brittleness, so eyeglass manufacturers turned to plastics. Plastic lenses had many advantages (lower manufacturing costs, excellent optics, far better absorption of ultraviolet radiation, lightweight), but although they were resistant to shattering, they were highly susceptible to scratching.  NASA's Dr. Ted Wydeven...

1988

In the early 1970s, the Johnson Space Center (JSC) undertook to adapt and apply technology developed for portable life support used by Apollo astronauts on the moon in a significant effort to improve firefighter breathing systems. This effort was in response to a need expressed by many of the nation's fire chiefs. What emerged four years later was a breathing system weighing slightly more than 20 pounds (about one-third less than prior systems), and a reduced profile design to improve the wearer's mobility. This improved NASA breathing system also included a new face mask design allowing...
In the early years of the space program, it took thousands of man-hours and months to analyze and solve structural problems in the design of aircraft and space vehicles using conventional mathematical methods. Today designers and engineers are able to analyze and solve thousands of structural problems in a matter of hours. An extremely complex and sophisticated computer program was developed at the Goddard Space Flight Center for this purpose; they named it NASTRAN. NASTRAN basically performs complex analyses of a structural design and predicts how various elements of the design will react to...
Millions of alternating current motors are in use throughout industry and in consumer products. Much of the power they consume, however, is wasted because electricity is fed to homes and factories at a fixed voltage level which is not required constantly by motor-driven devices and equipment, especially when in an idling mode. The cumulative power wasted, considering the millions of electric motors in service, is enormous. In order to conserve energy in aerospace electromechanical systems, where power sources must be efficiently maximized, the Power Factor Controller (PFC), was developed at...
A family of biomedical implantable devices have been developed over the past decade which are based on a wide array of space technologies, including battery advances, miniaturized circuitry, digital telemetry, and electronic sensing systems. The initial device was the rechargeable cardiac pacemaker, but many more continue to be developed that significantly aid health maintenance. A more recent human implant device is a programmable medication system that is designed to automatically inject medication, such as insulin, to specific organs of the body. The Programmable Implantable Medication...

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