Spinoff Highlights NASA Technology Paying Dividends in the US Economy



NASA’s technology is at the forefront of space exploration, but it can also be applied here on Earth – from improving cellular networks to saving lives in the pandemic.


Whether
upgrading air traffic control software or honing the food safety practices that
keep our dinner tables safe, NASA has worked for more than six decades to ensure its
innovations benefit people on Earth. One of the agency’s most important
benefits is the way investment in NASA pays dividends throughout the U.S.
economy.

The
latest edition of NASA’s Spinoff publication highlights dozens of
companies that have benefited from cooperation with NASA – including several
projects from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. This cooperation
means investment in existing companies large and small; it eases the path for
entrepreneurs to start new businesses; and it benefits the public as a whole
through new jobs and cutting-edge products that improve daily life.

“Whether
working to send the first woman and next man to the Moon or helping improve the
technology that carries passengers from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon,
NASA innovators are constantly creating new technology,” said Jim Reuter,
associate administrator of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in
Washington. “Often these advances have wide-ranging benefits well beyond
the need they were first imagined to meet. Telling the public that story is one
way we fulfill our mission to find homes for the technology beyond the agency
for maximum benefit.”

This year
in Spinoff, you’ll learn more
about innovations from NASA centers across the agency, including:

  • How JPL has developed a
    new kind of technology used in spectrometers that can also be used to improve
    5G cellular networks (page 7).
  • How an array of new
    technologies aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover will help explore Mars but also
    enrich life on our own planet. For instance, a new kind of laser technology
    aboard the rover can be used on Earth to detect contaminants in pharmaceutical
    manufacturing, while a new kind of specialized drill bit is already assisting
    geologists in the field (page 24).
  • How JPL roboticists
    have imitated the gecko’s gravity-defying grip to create a manufacturing robot
    that can grapple smooth objects with ease (page 51).

“Every
spinoff story represents a product for sale, developed with NASA technology and
expertise,” said Daniel Lockney, Technology Transfer program executive. “The
American public benefits not just from the products themselves but also from
the infusion of innovations and investment that spur economic development in
the form of new ideas, new companies, and new jobs.”

In
addition to these commercial success stories, this issue of Spinoff also delves into NASA’s response to the coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic. In particular, it highlights how the agency’s Technology
Transfer program worked to ensure new or improved innovations – including new ventilators
and sterilizers – made it into the hands of businesses and the public for the
biggest impact (page 66). Among the success stories is the Ventilator
Intervention Technology Accessible Locally, or VITAL-new high-pressure ventilator developed by NASA
engineers at JPL and tailored to treat coronavirus patients.

Spinoff 2021 also features 20 NASA technologies that
the Technology Transfer program has identified as promising future spinoffs, as
well as information on how to license them or partner with NASA to
further develop them for commercialization.

As NASA
technology continues to blaze a path to the future, the methods of informing the
public about their wide-ranging benefits also received an innovative makeover.
NASA’s 2021 Spinoff publication features a modern, fresh design, making it
easier than ever to learn how NASA technology and investments in the space
program pay dividends for the U.S. economy and the public.

The new Spinoff
storytelling approach centers on big-picture trends, such as the far-reaching
impact of NASA’s efforts to keep water flowing on the International Space Station,
as well as a curated selection of spinoff “capsules” that offer quick
hits of cutting-edge technology making life better around the world.

Readers also
can find these stories year-round on the reimagined NASA Spinoff website, updated frequently
with new stories. The site allows readers to delve deeper into NASA’s economic
impact in different parts of the United States through a searchable map that highlights spinoff successes created in
each state.

“Transferring
NASA technology beyond the space agency is part of our culture and one of our
longest-standing missions,” said Reuter. “We’ve updated the look of
the Spinoff publication, but
the message is the same: We’re always working to ensure our innovations find
the widest benefit, from space to you.”

Digital
versions of the latest issue of Spinoff
are available at:

https://spinoff.nasa.gov

For more
information about NASA’s Technology Transfer program, visit:

https://technology.nasa.gov

News Media Contact

Clare Skelly
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-4273
clare.a.skelly@nasa.gov

Ian J. O’Neill
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-2649
ian.j.oneill@jpl.nasa.gov

2020-234

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