40.More competitive swimming
Some of the swimsuits favored by professional swimmers utilize technology found in spacesuits. The rubber is covered with barely visible grooves that reduce friction and aerodynamic drag by modifying the flow of water over an athlete’s body. These suits are 10 to 15 per cent faster than conventional swimsuits and could give an athlete the winning edge.
41.The self-righting life raft
Developed for the Apollo program, the raft fully inflates in 12 seconds and is stable during extremely adverse weather conditions. The craft are now used by coastguards around the world.
42.Home blood pressure kits
When Alan Shepard became the first American to fly in space some 37 years ago, Nasa scientists had to invent an automatic measuring device to find out how blasting off affected the astronaut’s blood pressure. Blood-pressure kits based on this design subsequently went mainstream.
43.Hydraulic rescue cutters
A rescue tool used by fire departments across America uses battery technology first employed by Nasa. The cutting technology – used to free accident victims from wreckage – employs a miniature version of the power cartridges first used on the Space Shuttle and is 50 per cent lighter (and 70 per cent cheaper) than previous rescue equipment. The cutters work more quickly than conventional ones and were used in the aftermath of the 1995 Oklahoma Federal Building bombing.
On 10 July 1962, a television transmission showed the American flag fluttering outside a communications center in Andover, Maine. It was made possible after Nasa launched its Telstar satellite, the world’s first active communications satellite, at 4.35 that morning.
Voice-controlled wheelchairs make use of Nasa robot voice recognition technology and are fitted with microcomputers that can respond to oral commands. The chairs help people with severe disabilities to perform daily tasks such as turning on appliances.
A type of surplus rocket fuel favored by Nasa has been used to create a device that can destroy land mines safely. The gadget uses the fuel to burn a hole in the mine’s casing and to burn away the explosive contents, making it easier to clear land of mines.
The technology used to make parachutes to land exploratory probes was adapted by tire companies to create tires five times stronger than steel. Such technology, pioneered for use in tires by Goodyear in the late 1970s, employs long-chain molecular structures to increase tread lives by 10,000 miles, meaning that we can all drive further for less.
Nasa image-processing techniques are used to detect eye problems (errors in refraction, or the bending of light on to the retina) in children. An electronic flash from a 35mm camera sends light into the child’s eyes, and an image of the patient’s optical reflexes is then produced.
49.The personal alarm system
The pen-sized ultrasonic transmitters used by prison guards, teachers and the elderly and disabled to signal for help is based on technology derived from space telemetry. The pen transmits a silent signal to a receiver that will display the exact location of the emergency, enabling help to be sent.
50.The first photos of Saturn’s rings
In 1977, the probe Voyager 1 took almost 16,000 images of Saturn, its moons and its rings. The resulting photographs detected the presence of “spokes” within the planet’s ring patterns, which led scientists to reconsider theories about their formation.