Special Report

30 NASA Inventions We Use Everyday

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26. Portable computers

The first portable computer, the Grid Compass, was used on multiple shuttle missions in the 1980s. Nicknamed SPOC (Shuttle Portable On-Board Computer), the computer could communicate with onboard devices and was used to launch satellites off space shuttles.

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27. LEDs

Intended to be used for growing plants aboard space shuttles and regulating astronauts’ sleep cycles, NASA’s work with LED (light-emitting diode) technology has been utilized in the development of LED medical devices that relax muscles and relieve pain in soldiers, cancer patients, and those with Parkinson’s disease.

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28. Modern Food Safety Guidelines

In the 1960s, the Pillsbury Company and US Army Laboratories teamed up with NASA to provide pathogen-free food for upcoming space missions. Pillsbury then adopted the safety protocol system used by NASA and was subsequently tasked with training FDA food inspectors using the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system.

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29. Computer mouse

While searching for a way to increase interaction with onboard computers and allow users to perform tasks like manipulate data, NASA project manager Bob Taylor granted funding to Stanford researcher Doug Englebart, who developed the first mouse.

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30. Athletic shoes

A shock-absorbent rubber molding designed for astronauts’ helmets inspired what is now a common component of the soles of modern athletic shoes.