On July 29th, 2008, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Agency, or NASA celebrated its fiftieth birthday. While everyone knows about the cool NASA Space missions, very few people realize that the Agency is also responsible for various services and gadgets that we take for granted in our day-to-day lives.
In fact, the inventions that originated from this agency are too numerous to write about here. However, the sample items listed below will give you an idea of how many facets of our life have been enriched by this agency.
Most of you have never been in a world where there were only two channels and the signals had to be adjusted by tweaking a 'T.V. Antenna'. This was all before NASA launched the Telstar Satellite in July of 1962. It was the World's first active communications satellite, which morphed into cable television as we know it today.
At the Beijing Olympics this year, swimmers are expected to break all kinds of records thanks to the new Speedo swimsuit (click Permalink for full story). Unknown to most people, the material used in these suits was first tested by NASA Astronauts.
The braces that most of you are sporting these days, are all wired in by an alloy (mix of metals) called Nitinol (Nickel + Titanium mix), first tested in Space by NASA astronauts. Nitinol, which has the capability to spring back into shape after bending, was tested in satellites that needed to spring open after being folded into a rocket.
It was Frank Rudy, a NASA engineer, who proposed the idea of a trainer with air pockets to absorb shocks. NASA had successfully used a similar technology in the 1980's to manufacture space helmets and Frank believed that it could be easily transferred to trainers - leading to the creation of the Nike Air series of shoes.
Life without a PC (personal computer) seems unimaginable. While NASA was not involved in inventing the PC - the first microprocessor, or the brain of a computer was created for NASA's Apollo program to calculate orbital trajectories on board the spacecraft since they did not want to depend on the computers on Earth. NASA needed a small programable computer with a few kilobits of memory and something that did not require too much battery power - the result was the microprocessor or computer on a chip. Today microprocessors are used in watches, cars, cell phones, IPods, Game consoles .............you get the picture.
As you can see NASA does a lot more than plan cool missions - if you want to read about other cool stuff they are responsible for check out the article http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/features/50-years-50-giant-leaps-how-nasa-rocked-our-world-879377.html that was recently published in The Independent.
Enjoy the two videos commemorating fifty years of space achievements (and failures) of this great Agency. To learn more about the history of NASA check out www.NASA.gov.