The Altair UAS—a remotely-piloted aerial vehicle developed for NASA--aided firefighting efforts over central and southern California wildfires in late 2006.
With only two shuttle flights left and the future of manned spaceflight in question, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is having a bit of an identity crisis. Private companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are getting ready to enter the space game in a big way, and as we wait for the next generation of rockets, American astronauts will have to rely on hitching a ride on European, Russian and Chinese space missions to continue our work in orbit.
Arguments over whether now is the time for the government to spend billions on sending people into space notwithstanding, the agency’s efforts to do so have generated a host of new technologies that influence our lives every day. Without NASA we wouldn’t have Dustbusters, Ziploc bags, or memory foam mattresses.
NASA’s Spinoff 2010 report, which the agency publishes annually to promote the commercial applications of its investments in technological research, highlights a number of innovations that affect our lives every day. Here are some of the highlights.