While Thomas Pesquet is back in space for six months, the Norman’s new trip to the ISS has brought the question of space and its usefulness back to the fore. When some declare that space exploration is part of human nature, that Neil Armstrong is just a newer version of Christopher Columbus, many are skeptical of the billions invested in space missions, including the implications that are often quite vague .
In the form of a non-exhaustive list, here are some of the objects and technologies we use every day that have been discovered in space, or at least thanks to the space industry.
1) The saucepans
One of the best-known examples on this list, but also one of the most surprising, are certainly the saucepans. If the link to NASA rockets isn’t obvious at first glance, the stoves we use every day are nonetheless a “space” invention.
At the beginning of the conquest of space in the 1950s, the first world powers had to develop materials that could withstand high temperatures. This is how the first heat shields were born. Once developed, this new technology came into our kitchens with a completely new coating of the ovens, but also the ovens and kettles.
2) ski goggles
Another invention coming straight from NASA headquarters is ski goggles. As with the stoves mentioned above, NASA did not “invent” ski goggles. However, the research and discoveries of the American space agency have made it possible to significantly improve the way it works.
By developing new light filters for their telescopes, NASA has succeeded in switching off the blue light of the sun by 95%. Very touched by this light, the skiers quickly fitted this new filter to their glasses. While working on optics, NASA also developed anti-scratch technology that is now widely used by the optical world.
3) Wireless headsets
If AirPods (and other wireless headphones and earbuds) are true fashion accessories today, the first headphones of their kind appeared with the conquest of the moon. Neil Armstrong was one of the first men to use wireless headphones.
With the latter, christened “Polly”, he conveyed his famous phrase “It is a small step for man, but a great leap for mankind” when he first stepped on the moon. Armstrong’s headset microphone even had a noise-canceling feature so the astronaut’s voice was as clear as possible.
4) The Nike Air
While the brand’s iconic “Swoosh” shoe isn’t the only one to use NASA’s shock-absorbing sole technology, it’s the most popular example. In the early 1970s, Franck Rudy, a NASA engineer, succeeded in enclosing an air bubble in plastic. Originally to produce a new protective and insulating layer for astronaut helmets.
Finally, in 1977, Nike decided to use this technology in their Nike Air. Success will come instantly and the pair of shoes will become an absolute reference. With the “Air Max”, Nike makes the air bubble in its sole visible, a real revolution in the world of sneakers.
5) the ear thermometer
An ear thermometer is operated directly via a JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) IRAS satellite. The latter measures the infrared radiation from stars precisely in order to derive their temperature. Ear thermometers measure the infrared radiation from the eardrum to derive the temperature of the human body. The measurement of infrared radiation to calculate a temperature is also used today for night glasses.
6) “Chinese noodles”
Chinese noodles were not invented by American or Chinese space agencies, and this Asian recipe is much older than all space agencies put together. But the pots of Chinese noodles that are on our supermarket shelves today are pretty close to a NASA invention.
In their idea of going to the moon, the American agency had to find the best way to feed their astronauts while using as little space and weight as possible. So the solution was freeze-dried. Freeze-drying, first used in survival kits by the military and seafarers, is increasingly gaining ground in supermarkets and in our daily lives, especially with “Chinese noodles”.
7) The insulin pump
The insulin pump invented by Robert E. Fischell now helps millions of diabetics around the world by giving them regular and precise doses over very long periods of time. The technology in the pump was first used by Fischell when he was working at PLA, NASA’s applied physics laboratory. These small pumps were originally used in Viking probes on Mars to look for possible traces of life on the red planet.
8) The airbag
While the seat belt was not yet mandatory in cars in France, the ancestor of the airbag was invented for space purposes in Russia. In 1966, the Soviet lunar probes “Luna” 9 and 13 were fitted with airbags to slow their fall and reduce the impact when they reached the surface of our satellite. Airbags were introduced to the automotive world in the early 1970s, first at Chevrolet, before being democratized in all of our vehicles.
One, if not the most famous invention in space. With the arrival of satellites on our planet, we were able to get an overview and thus develop GPS systems. If they allow you to find your way around the world, they are also the source of our weather forecasts, which are much more precise from space. Developed for military use by the US Department of Defense in the 1970s, GPS is an everyday tool today, to the point where its use goes unnoticed most of the time.
10) Printed circuits, photosensors, radiography …
The conquest of space over the past 70 years has enabled real technological revolutions and has significantly influenced the way we view the world. In addition to all the inventions already mentioned, NASA and the conquest of space in general are the origin of many discoveries, especially in the world of new technologies.
The on-board computer of the Apollo missions was the first to have printed circuits, a revolution for the time. NASA researchers have also developed new photo sensors to make images of neighboring planets even clearer. These sensors are now used in cell phones and allow us to take selfies and other vacation videos. NASA has always strived to improve the images from its telescopes and has developed computer image processing technologies. Today they are the basics of radiology.
Daniel Lockney, NASA’s Technology Transfer Program Director, sums it up: “We’ll certainly get better planes or better weather forecasts from space, but we’ll also have better-fed children. People don’t necessarily associate these things. “The inventions discovered in space are numerous and often interfere with our daily lives without our noticing.
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