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(he year 1992 has been designated the “International Space Year” (ISY) in
I commemoration of the 500th
anniversary of the voyage of Columbus to the New World and the 35th anniversary of the International Geophysical Year, the year that ushered in the space age. Proposed seven years ago by the late Senator Spark Matsunaga from Hawaii, adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1986, and endorsed by the United Nations in 1989, ISY has blossomed into a worldwide celebration of space exploration and discovery,
ISY focuses attention on the myriad benefits of space exploration—from the tremendous gains in knowledge about the universe and our home planet to the down-toEarth "spinoff" applications of ideas first conceived for space flight. It is, therefore, fitting that ISY coincides with another hallmark, the 30th year of NASA's Technology Transfer Program, established under congressional mandate to promote the transfer of aerospace technology to other sectors of the U.S. economy. The program has been eminently successful. Through NASA's ventures, buttressed by those of entrepreneurs, thousands of spinoff products and processes have been derived from NASAdeveloped technology. Through them, the quality of our lives has improved and America's competitiveness has been bolstered in the global marketplace.
Space technology spinoffs will receive a powerful new boost from Space Station Freedom. By the end of this decade, Freedom will provide a permanently crewed orbiting facility where we can learn to live and work in space and conduct a vast array of experiments in biological, medical, and material sciences in the microgravity environment. Space Station Freedom will significantly advance our expertise in such areas as life sciences, material technology, power generation, guidance and navigation systems, and robotics. We anticipate spinoffs in medical devices and health care techniques, environmental monitoring, industrial robots, and solar energy extraction and storage.
The National Aero-Space Plane (NASP) Program, which seeks to build a hypersonic plane capable of taking off and landing at conventional airport runways, is already producing cutting-edge technology with scores of possible spinoffs. Examples include computer simulation, an
important tool for design engineers; lightweight, high-temperature materials for automobiles and aircraft; and prosthetic devices for the handicapped.
The Earth Observing System (EOS), the centerpiece of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, also promises a wealth of secondary benefits. EOS involves a long-term,
comprehensive study of how the Earth's land masses, oceans, and atmosphere interact and work as a system. We will also learn how the system is changing. Aside from the direct benefit of enabling us to assess such threats as global warming and ozone depletion, EOS offers spinoffs from the array of satellite-borne sensors the program requires. Moreover, the EOS Data and Information System (EOSDIS) will provide data processing, distribution, and archiving of EOS data to the research community.
Finally, the Space Exploration Initiative, the national plan to create a human outpost on the Moon and extended human presence to Mars, will serve as a catalyst for technology development across an incredibly wide range of fields. We expect advances in artificial intelligence, supercomputing, optical communications, waste recycling, pollution reduction systems, and hundreds of other technologies that will pay dividends here on Earth.
As the world celebrates the International Space Year, America is embarking on a new era of aeronautics and space exploration. We at NASA will work with U.S. industries to meet the technological challenges these missions pose and generate a new wave of beneficial spinoffs. Although our successes over the past three decades are impressive, we are confident that the best is yet to come.
Daniel S. Goldin
these technologies by individual entrepreneurs and established businesses, and to remind ourselves that the investments this country has made in Space have yielded high dividends on Earth.
The publication has two parts:
very day, in a variety of ways, our lives are touched
by space technology. Some of our most familiar
consumer products—Dustbuster® vacuums, scratchresistant sunglasses, home water filters—trace their origins to the space program. We drive cars and fly in airplanes that were designed using NASA computer software. Our office buildings carry electricity through flat conductor cables and our factories and supermarkets employ heat pipes to keep things cool-both are NASA innovations. And we rely on a host of medical technologiesCATScans, portable x-ray machines, laser surgery—that are offshoots of aerospace research.
These examples only hint at the breadth and diversity of NASA spinoffs. Some spinoffs offer only moderate benefits to the nation's lifestyle and productivity. Many others, however, have had a multi-million dollar impact on the economy, spawning new companies and creating jobs to help America grow. In some cases—such as highway safety grooving, miniaturized electronics, and metallized materials—the secondary application of NASA technology has resulted in an entirely new industry. Recent spinoff innovations such as virtual reality and microlasers promise to pay even greater dividends on the country's investment in aerospace research.
This special ISY commemorative edition of Spinoff features a sampling of the benefits accrued from NASA R&D programs over the past three decades. An instrument of NASA's Technology Transfer Program, this issue is intended to recognize the many contributions to the American public through the innovative application of