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Thanks a Lot, NASA

Learn about everyday items we have thanks to NASA.

Space travel is becoming an everyday thing. Companies like Space X, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin currently offer commercial payload service to space and are working toward commercial passengers. That means the sci-fi stories of people flying to space and back on vacation could become a reality in your lifetime.girl on her ipad

Space flight isn’t the only thing that has trickled down to the public from NASA. Everything from cell phone cameras to memory foam was originally designed to help explore space.

  1. Memory foam. That material that makes your mattress super comfortable was originally designed to help keep astronauts safe on landing. Now you can find variations of memory foam in everything from football helmets to car seats.
  2. Scratch-resistant lenses. There is a lot of stuff involved in space travel that can’t get scratched. There is also a lot of stuff involved in space travel that can scratch. NASA’s Lewis Research Center developed a super tough coating to help prevent windows and sensors from getting scratched. Someone eventually figured out this would be great for eyeglasses.
  3. The insulin pump. There is a lot going on in space. Astronauts have a lot on their minds and need their vital signs monitored around the clock. Over the years, NASA has developed ways to monitor different vitals from heart rate to blood sugar. Technology from that was used to design insulin pumps that automatically regulate the user’s insulin.
  4. Water filters. Just about everyone has one of these built into their fridge or in a container in their fridge these days. And we have NASA to thank for that. Originally developed to remove any possible bacteria from the water drunk in space, these devices have filtered their way into our homes.
  5. Cell phone cameras. Cameras used to be big. And NASA wanted to start putting more cameras on spacecraft, which need to be as small and light as possible. So in the 1990s, NASA, along with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, worked to miniaturize cameras by developing new technology. Today more than one-third of all cameras use this tech, including the one in your cell phone.
  6. The dustbuster. Small handheld vacuums are a lifesaver. No need to lug out the whole vacuum when you spill some cereal in the morning. Just grab your dustbuster and save yourself some time. Black & Decker invented the handheld vacuum after NASA approached them to build a small, battery-powered vacuum to collect moon samples.
  7. Cordless tools. They are the standard these days. Battery-powered cordless tools are on every job site and in almost every garage. However, before NASA wanted cordless drills on the Moon, battery-powered tools were so big and cumbersome that corded versions were easier to handle. Martin Marrietta helped NASA develop a drill that would spin a bolt but not the astronaut using it when in zero gravity.
  8. Wireless headsets. Being able to ignore the world around you is a great thing. Not getting your cord caught on any tiny thing sticking out is another great thing. NASA felt the same way. Spacecraft tend to be pretty small, and communication is key to mission success. Not having to move wires around or have them constantly getting caught on things makes life in cramped quarters a little easier. And now it makes your bus ride easier, too.
  9. Freeze-dried food. Have you ever had astronaut ice cream? That chalky, Styrofoam-looking brick of Neapolitan ice cream that has been available at every museum gift shop on every school trip? NASA actually did invent the stuff. Or at least the process to make it easier to re-hydrate and to make it taste like actual food.
  10. The Super Soaker. This one is more of an honorable mention. It was developed by NASA engineer Lonnie Johnson. But where would summers be without long-range squirt guns? The Super Soaker 50 is considered so iconic that it was voted into the Toy Hall of Fame.

Even if you never get to go into space, you can still use some of the technology that has helped get us where we are today in exploring our solar system!

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