CBS NEWS STS-122 STATUS REPORT: 38
Posted: 05:05 PM, 2/4/08
By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst
CBS News Mission Status Report
5:05 PM, 2/4/08, Update: Countdown begins
The shuttle Atlantis' countdown began today for launch Thursday on a space station assembly mission. The countdown began on time at 5 p.m., setting up a launch attempt at 2:45:25 p.m. Thursday, roughly the moment Earth's rotation carries pad 39A into the plane of the space station's orbit. There are no technical problems as of this writing, but the weather remains a concern with forecasters predicting a 60 percent chance of rain from a passing cold front. The forecast improves to 80 percent "go" Friday and Saturday.
Here are the latest "in-plane" launch times for Thursday, Friday and Saturday (in EST):
A more detailed launch windows chart, countdown timeline, flight plan and other useful data are posted on the CBS News STS-122 Quick-Look page.
12:00 PM, 2/4/08, Update: STS-122 mission preview
Running two months late, the shuttle Atlantis and its crew are set for blastoff Thursday on a long-awaited flight to attach the European Space Agency's Columbus research lab to the international space station. The module represents Europeâ€™s first manned toehold in orbit and promises to open a new era of international research with Japanese lab modules scheduled to follow in March and April.
"I think for Europe, it's the start of manned space flight," said Hans Schlegel, a German astronaut making his second flight aboard a space shuttle. "Because all of the sudden, we have what we are strong in - developing experiments, building experiments to be conducted in space, either in cooperation with NASA or cooperation with the Russian space agency - all of the sudden we have a module of our own which is available to us, to the scientists in Europe, 24 hours (a day), 365 days a year. This will really be the beginning."
Said NASA Administrator Mike Griffin: "Reaching this point is a tremendous milestone for NASA and the space station program. I mean at one stroke, we almost double the laboratory capacity on board. It's a new, modern, state-of-the-art laboratory, several years newer in the end than the U.S. lab. It makes a real international partnership come to fruition in the form of real hardware.
"We want to take this partnership with us back to the moon, and that wasn't going to happen unless and until we finish up our obligations on the space station and made a real working vehicle out of it," Griffin said in an interview. "Columbus (is) a huge step toward making that happen. Until we actually set out for the moon again, this is as good as it gets."
With commander Steve Frick and pilot Alan Poindexter at the controls, Atlantis is scheduled to lift off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 2:45:28 p.m. Thursday, roughly the moment when Earth's rotation carries the launch pad into the plane of the space station's orbit. Their crewmates are flight engineer Rex Walheim, Leland Melvin, Stan Love and European astronauts Schlegel and Leopold Eyharts, a French air force general hitching a ride to the space station.
Liftoff originally was planned for Dec. 6, but the flight was delayed because of intermittent electrical continuity in wiring leading to low-level hydrogen fuel sensors in the base of the shuttleâ€™s external tank. A second launch try Dec. 9 also ended in failure and the mission was put on hold pending a fueling test Dec. 18 and work to pin down the cause of the engine-cutoff â€“ ECO â€“ sensor problems.
The four ECO sensors are part of a backup system intended to make sure the shuttle's main engines don't suck a tank dry after some other problem - a leak, for example, or an improper hydrogen-oxygen mixture ratio - used up propellant at faster than normal rates. An engine running out of hydrogen during normal operation likely would suffer a catastrophic failure.
The 10 wires that carry signals from all four ECO sensors and a 5 percent sensor pass through the same connector in the wall of the external tank. The three-part 37-pin connector (27 pins are not used) features a pass-through fitting with gold-plated male pins on both sides.
Wires from the sensors inside the tank terminate in a female connector that is plugged into the male pins of the pass-through. Those pins are imbedded in a glass matrix. A similar female socket plugs into the pass-through on the outside of the tank where the pins are mounted in a Teflon insert.
Data collected during the Dec. 18 fueling test indicated the problem was the result of temperature-induced circuit-breaking gaps in the pins and sockets on the external side of the feed-through connector when the system was chilled to ultra-low temperatures.
To make sure, the feed-through plate with the external connector still attached was removed and shipped to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., for additional testing at cryogenic temperatures. When the hardware was submerged in liquid hydrogen, engineers saw the same sort of open circuits that cropped up during the December launch attempts.
The solution was to solder the external pins and sockets together, eliminating any gaps that could lead to a loss of connectivity. Testing at cryogenic temperatures indicates the fix was successful.
"I'm sure everyone has heard an awful lot about those sensors, but we really rely on them," Frick told reporters at the Kennedy Space Center. "We use virtually all of our gas just to get up to orbit for a normal mission, like 99-and-a-half percent, and we can't afford to let the engines run dry because they tend to come apart. So the ECO sensors are a critical safety system that I'm very happy we were able to fix them and feel very confident about them working."
Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale described the soldered connector as "a good solid repair," saying "we have a lot of testing that's gone on to prove that this fix is a good fix, does not entail any unanticipated consequences and will provide us with a reliable safety system in the low level cutoff protection world."
"The work is complete on the vehicle at the launch pad and we're beginning to implement that fix on subsequent tanks so that we won't ever have to talk about engine cutoff sensors again," he said.
NASA's original ECO sensor launch commit criteria required three of the four circuits to be operational for a launch to proceed. That rule later was changed to four-of-four because of concern about a common component that, should it fail, could take out two circuits. That design flaw was addressed before Columbia's last flight and NASA managers eventually changed the flight rule back to requiring three of four operational circuits.
That's the rule that was in place for Atlantis's initial launch try, but it was amended to four of four for the second attempt, primarily because engineers did not yet know what was causing the problem.
Now that testing indicates the problem has been resolved, NASA managers have agreed to go back to the three-of-four criteria, "which is the design intention for that system," Hale said.
"On this first tanking with the new system in place we're going to watch it very closely to ensure that we really have eliminated the common cause mechanism," he said. "If there are any funnies that happen, they will be scrutinized very carefully. ... I expect when we go tank up the vehicle next Thursday we'll be in good shape to go fly."
The ECO sensor problem and two-month launch delay came at a critical moment in space station assembly. Going into Atlantis' December launch campaign, Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson, cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and astronaut Dan Tani had just wrapped up a grueling few weeks of work to ready the station for arrival of Columbus and two Japanese modules originally scheduled for launch in February and April.
The delay for Atlantis pushed the next flight - shuttle Endeavour and the first of the two Japanese modules - from Feb. 14 to mid March. Launch of the shuttle Discovery with the second Japanese research lab remains on track for April 24, but Atlantis' next flight, a final mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, is expected to slip from Aug. 7 to around Aug. 28.
The final two flights of the year, a space station logistics and resupply mission by Endeavour and delivery of a final set of solar arrays, are expected to slip about a month, to mid October and early December respectively. But Hale said he is optimistic NASA can pull off a six-mission year and even if even if additional problems crop up, enough margin remains in the schedule to complete the station and retire the shuttle in 2010 as planned.
"We know that it takes continuous vigilance to maintain a safe flight rate, to fly each and every flight as safely as we possibly can," Hale said late last year. "The shuttle is an extraordinary vehicle with a lot of capability and a lot of flexibility, a huge payload capability, but it takes a lot of attention from a lot of people to make sure we fly safely and we have to watch every little anomaly, every little indication to make sure we continue to fly safely.
In 2008, Hale said, "it's a fairly aggressive schedule (but) we have plenty of margin in our schedule to complete the international space station, meet the president's directive to complete flying (the shuttle) by no later than Sept. 30, 2010, so that the agency can then press on and build the moon ship, the Orion and Ares rockets that will take us past low-Earth orbit and back to the moon and on, potentially, to Mars."
The Atlantis astronauts plan to attach the Columbus module to the newly installed Harmony module's right-side port on Feb. 10, the day after docking.
The 22.5-foot-long module weighs some 28,200 pounds and adds 2,600 cubic feet of volume to the station. Built by EADS Space Transportation, Columbus will be launched with four European science racks and one European storage rack in place. NASA later will install five racks of its own. The European Space Agency has spent about $2 billion building Columbus, the experiments that will fly in it and the ground control infrastructure necessary to operate them.
In addition to delivering Columbus, Atlantis also will ferry Eyharts to the station. The European Space Agency astronaut, veteran of a three-week stay aboard the Russian Mir space station in 1998, will replace Tani aboard the ISS. Tani, who was launched to the station Oct. 23 aboard the shuttle Discovery, will return to Earth in Eyharts' place aboard Atlantis.
For Tani, Atlantis' launch delay translated into an unexpected two-month mission extension. Along with missing the Christmas holidays with his family, Tani was off the planet when his mother was killed in a car wreck Dec. 19. For Eyharts, the launch delay resulted in a shortened mission. He will remain aboard the lab complex with Whitson and Malenchenko until late March, when he will be replaced by NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman.
With less time aloft than he originally expected, Eyharts' primary responsibility will be activating and outfitting Columbus and beginning science operations after Atlantis departs.
"Columbus is mainly scientific module," Eyharts said in a NASA interview. "We will have four European scientific racks, which will allow Europe to perform science during, we hope, at least 10 years in the station. But there will be also American scientific racks which be installed a little bit later in the station. So with the arrival of Columbus, and later on of the Japanese module, we will start the full exploitation of the ISS as a scientific laboratory. And with the arrival of Columbus, Europe will become a co-owner of the ISS.
"Columbus is a first for Europe," he said. "This will be the first time Europe will have a permanent base in space. And of course, this is very important and this is very challenging. So in the future, of course, we hope that this first participation will help in reinforcing our technical expertise and our experience of operations to be able to go further and participate with the future of space exploration, too."
NASA's larger Destiny laboratory module "is really the heart of the space station, the U.S. segment of the space station," Frick said. "It's got laboratory (equipment), payloads, it's got all kinds of science resources, but it also has the heart of the U.S. segment: It has our computers, it has our power distribution, it has all the things we need to keep functioning and keep alive. The Columbus laboratory is really more of a pure laboratory - it has the resources it needs to keep its payloads going and to keep the crew members that are working inside of it healthy and able to do their job. But it relies on the other modules in the U.S. segment for resources like power and cooling and air and those kinds of things."
Preparing the station for Columbus has been a major challenge. The station was designed for the six-port Harmony module - the eventual attachment point for Columbus and Japan's Kibo research lab - to be mounted on the front end of the station, between the U.S. Destiny lab module and the shuttle docking port, known as pressurized mating adapter No. 2.
Harmony was delivered to the station in late October aboard the shuttle Discovery and temporarily attached to the central Unity module's left side hatch. After Discovery departed, Whitson and Malenchenko staged a spacewalk Nov. 9 to disconnect electrical cables from PMA-2. Then, on Nov. 12, the crew used the station's robot arm to detach PMA-2 and robotically connect it to Harmony's outboard port.
Two days later, on Nov. 14, the Harmony/PMA-2 "stack" was detached from Unity and bolted to the front end of the Destiny module. Whitson and Tani then staged spacewalks Nov. 20 and 24 to hook up power cables and connect ammonia supply and return lines between Harmony and the station's main cooling system on the lab's solar power truss. That work, along with internal outfitting, set the stage for Atlantis' launch and installation of the Columbus module.
Adding a new research module to the space station is a major milestone in the lab's evolution. So is adding another ground control center, a state-of-the-art complex in Oberfaffenhofen, Germany, near Munich. With the addition of Columbus, station astronauts will be in daily contact with flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Oberfaffenhofen and Russian ground control in Korolev near Moscow.
"We all come into these space shuttle flights looking at the big element in the payload bay and waiting for the action when we actually install it," said station Program Manager Mike Suffredini. "This flight and the following stage and multiple stages after that will be an extra challenge for us.
"We have been working with our Russian counterparts and our Canadian counterparts for the better part of about seven years and in all that time, we evolved in our operations capability, how we work together. And now we're bringing on another partner, multiple countries, multiple control centers to operate this Columbus module.
"So the very small part you'll see during the docked operations of installing the Columbus module really will just be the tip of the iceberg as we work together in a partnership and move on into the next couple of flights," Suffredini said. "By April, we'll have the (Japanese modules) up and we'll have yet another partner in operation with us. So it's a very exciting time for us in the ISS program."
Three spacewalks are planned for the Atlantis mission, two by Walheim and Schlegel and one by Walheim and Love.
During the first excursion Feb. 10, the day after docking, Walheim and Schlegel will attach a robot arm attachment fitting to Columbus, disconnect power cables from the new module, remove docking port covers and make preparations for a second spacewalk two days later. Melvin, meanwhile, will use the station's robot arm to move Columbus from its perch in the shuttle's cargo bay to its mounting point on the right side of Harmony. It will be locked in place by 16 motorized bolts.
If all goes well, Eyharts will float into Columbus for the first time the next day, on Feb. 11, and begin initial outfitting. The day after that, Walheim and Schlegel will venture back outside to replace a spent nitrogen tank in the main solar power truss that was used to push ammonia coolant through the supply and return lines leading to and from Harmony. The old nitrogen tank assembly will be moved to the shuttle's cargo bay for return to Earth.
A third spacewalk by Walheim and Love is planned two days later, on Feb. 14, to mount two European experiment facilities on the outboard bulkhead of the Columbus module and to move a failed control moment gyroscope from a storage platform on the station to Atlantis for return to Earth.
Going into the mission, the flight plan calls for Atlantis to land back at the Kennedy Space Center around 10 a.m. on Feb. 18. But if there are no major problems in orbit, NASA managers likely will extend the mission by one day to allow extra time for Columbus activation.
Going into the original December launch campaign, NASA managers held open the option of adding a fourth spacewalk to Atlantis' mission. The idea was to carry out additional inspections of the station's right-side solar alpha rotary joint, or SARJ, which is used to rotate outboard solar arrays like a giant paddle wheel to track the sun.
The space station is equipped with two such rotary joints, one on each side of the lab's main power truss. Each joint features two redundant 10-foot-wide gear/race rings and two drive motors, only one of which is engaged at any given time. Twelve so-called trundle bearing assemblies are positioned around one of the two gear races and hold in place with 1,000 pounds of force to allow smooth rotary operation.
The left-side SARJ is rotating normally, but earlier this fall flight controllers noticed unusual vibration and slightly higher current levels in the right-side SARJ. Tani looked inside the joint behind thermal panel No. 12 during an already planned shuttle assembly spacewalk Oct. 28.
He spotted metallic contamination and collected samples using adhesive tape. Those samples later were determined to be made up of race ring material itself. At that point, mission managers decided to lock the starboard SARJ in place to prevent additional damage.
During a second inspection by Tani during a spacewalk Nov. 24, additional contamination was spotted in a different area. Going into the initial attempts to launch Atlantis, engineers still did not know what might be causing the damage or what might be needed to fix it.
Then, on Dec. 8, another problem developed: a bearing motor roll ring module, or BMRRM (pronounced "broom"), failed on a right-side array, preventing the station's flight computers from positioning the affected panel as required to maximize electricity production.
While the SARJ joints on each side of the power truss turn the outboard arrays like giant paddle wheels, completing one full revolution per orbit, each set of arrays also is equipped with a beta gimbal assembly, or BGA, that uses BMRRMs to turn the panels about their long axis in a motion similar to changing the pitch of an airplane propeller.
The port-side of the station's power truss is finished and now features four solar array wings. The BGAs on those four wings are working normally, as is the port-side SARJ.
But only one set of arrays is in place on the right side of the truss and one of them - panel S4-1A - suffered a BGA failure Dec. 8. Engineers initially believed a cable or some other component might have been hit by space debris or a micrometeoroid. But during a spacewalk inspection by Whitson and Tani on Dec. 18, no such damage was found. Subsequent tests showed the problem involved a fault inside the BGA motor assembly itself, the BMRRM.
Facing two major problems on the right side of the station's main power truss, NASA managers worried they might not have enough power to support the addition of the European and Japanese research modules. But after extensive analysis, engineers concluded station assembly could proceed if the faulty BMRRM was replaced. Even then, power conservation measures will be required.
Given the delay getting Atlantis ready for a third launch try, station managers opted to stage a spacewalk Jan. 30 so Whitson and Tani could install a spare BGA motor. The spacewalk was successful and with beta angle positioning restored on the right side of the power truss, the station can generate enough electricity to support the new research labs. As such, there are no plans to add a fourth spacewalk to Atlantis' mission.
The bigger problem - the damage to the starboard SARJ - is not yet understood. The current plan is to possibly lubricate the damaged race in the near term to permit periodic repositionings and then, during a shuttle visit later this fall, move the 12 bearing assemblies and two drive motors to a redundant inboard gear. Switching to the inboard race would take four to five spacewalks. But engineers do not want to consider such a drastic step until they figure out what is causing the problem with the active gear and race ring.
"Without understanding exactly what the problem is, it's hard to drive back through the fault tree and say exactly how it is that we got there," said Kenny Todd, space station integration and operations manager at JSC. "So obviously, this will be an activity that will challenge us.
"But replacing bearings is something we know how to do. Replacing the drive lock assembly is something we know how to do. These are what we term ORUs, orbital replacement units, they exist to be able to be changed out on orbit. We're not treading new ground here when it comes to doing these tasks. They are things that we train for and we understand how to do.
"I think what's going to be important for us is to understand this particular failure enough that when we go to perform that repair we do it in a way that doesn't somehow or another exacerbate this condition on the other ring. But I think without getting a better understanding of how it was that this happened, it's going to be hard for us to say for sure here's what we'll change, here's what we'll do different."
I'm not getting fooled again. IF it doesn't launch tomorrow, and the weather looks better for Friday, maybe I'll take the ride up to Titusville. It was windy as hell today and the clouds were rolling in late this afternoon.
My luck (bad) will be that they somehow manage to get the lauch off tomorrow.
Even without the weather threat, afternoon launches have a higher likelihood of cancellation due to wind. Morning is much calmer.
(Cape Canaveral, FL) -- The Space Shuttle Atlantis is on a path to the International Space Station following a successful launch earlier today from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is the first of four shuttle launches planned by NASA in 2008. The seven member crew on board the orbiter will deliver the new European-made "Columbus" science module to the ISS during its eleven-day mission. On the heels of the Atlantis launch, NASA crews will be working to roll out the Space Shuttle Endeavour to its launch pad next week.
I know that there are plenty of NASA/Shuttle haters around but I must state I am watching NASA tv & a replay of the Roll/Pitch today when Atlantis caught up with the Station and it was to sound like Chris Farley AWESOME. Very cool shots of the earth below the shuttle as it docks with the station as well.
Okay, maybe I will sign up. I love that stuff! Wonder how they get that stuff so fast, and how they have such unfettered access? I guess it's possible they have a lot of great contacts. Not that hard. I know the former Deputy Administrator for Public Affairs. He's since moved on to the private sector, but while he was there, I got a few tidbits about Orion before it was made public. He also got me, my brother and a friend on an inside tour into the depths of KSC. Best vacation ever.
Here's a better idea... shit can the stupid ISS and shuttle programs altogether. Fricken' money sumps. Aside from the "Gee whiz!" photo ops and the "Neato!" public realtions factor it's all pretty much worthless from a space exploration standpoint.
Our unmanned probes have made it to the edge of our solar system and beyond, meanwhile our dumb shuttle and ISS haven't gotten any further than you could go on a moped in a day of leisurely riding.
Unmanned missions... waaaaaaay more bang for the buck.
Every day, in a variety of ways, American lives are touched by space technology. Since 1976, over 1,500 documented NASA technologies have benefited U.S. industry, improved the quality of life, and created jobs. The Space Shuttle Program alone has generated more than 100 technology spinoffs. Some of the shuttle's contributions are:
Artificial Heart - The technology used in space shuttle fuel pumps led to the development of a miniaturized ventricular assist pump by NASA and renowned heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey. The tiny pump -- 2-inches long, 1-inch in diameter and weighing less than four ounces -- is currently undergoing European clinical trials where it has been successfully implanted into more than 20 people.
Automotive Insulation- Materials from the space shuttle thermal protection system are used on NASCAR racing cars to protect drivers from the extreme heat generated by the engines.
Balance Evaluation Systems - Devices built to measure the equilibrium of space shuttle astronauts when they return from space are widely used by major medical centers to diagnose and treat patients suffering head injury, stroke, chronic dizziness and central nervous system disorders.
Bioreactor - Developed for space shuttle medical research, this rotating cell culture apparatus simulates some aspects of the space environment, or microgravity, on the ground. Tissue samples grown in the bioreactor are being used to design therapeutic drugs and antibodies. Some scientists believe the bioreactor will routinely produce human tissue for research and transplantation.
Diagnostic Instrument - NASA technology was used to create a compact laboratory instrument for hospitals and doctor offices that more quickly analyzes blood, accomplishing in 30 seconds what once took 20 minutes.
Gas Detector - A gas leak detection system, originally developed to monitor the shuttle's hydrogen propulsion system, is being used by the Ford Motor Company in the production of a natural gas-powered car.
Infrared Camera - A sensitive infrared hand-held camera that observes the blazing plumes from the Shuttle also is capable of scanning for fires. During the brush fires that ravaged Malibu, CA in 1996, the camera was used to point out hot spots for firefighters.
Infrared Thermometer - Infrared sensors developed to remotely measure the temperature of distant stars and planets, led to the development of the hand-held optical sensor thermometer. Placed inside the ear canal, the thermometer provides an accurate reading in two seconds or less.
Jewelry Design - Jewelers no longer have to worry about inhaling dangerous asbestos fibers from the blocks they use as soldering bases. space shuttle heat shield tiles offer jewelers a safer soldering base with temperature resistance far beyond the 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit generated by the jeweler's torch.
Land Mine Removal Device - The same rocket fuel that helps launch the space shuttle is now being used to save lives— by destroying land mines. A flare device, using leftover fuel donated by NASA, is placed next to the uncovered land mine and is ignited from a safe distance using a battery-triggered electric match. The explosive burns away, disabling the mine and rendering it harmless.
Lifesaving Light - Special lighting technology developed for plant growth experiments on space shuttle missions is being studied to treat brain tumors in children. Doctors at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee are working with light emitting diodes in a treatment called photodynamic therapy, a form of chemotherapy, to kill cancerous tumors.
Prosthesis Material - Responding to a request from the orthopedic appliance industry, NASA recommended that the foam insulation used to protect the shuttle's external tank replace the heavy, fragile plaster used to produce master molds for prosthetics. The new material is light, virtually indestructible and easy to ship and store.
Rescue Tool - Rescue squads have a new extrication tool to help remove accident victims from wrecked vehicles. The hand-held device requires no auxiliary power systems or cumbersome hoses and is 70 percent cheaper than previous rescue equipment. The cutter uses a miniature version of the explosive charges that separate devices on the shuttle.
Vehicle Tracking System - Tracking information originally used onboard Space Shuttle missions now helps track vehicles on Earth. This commercial spinoff allows vehicles to transmit a signal back to a home base. Municipalities today use the software to track and reassign emergency and public works vehicles. It also is used by vehicle fleet operations, such as taxis, armored cars and vehicles carrying hazardous cargo.
Video Stabilization Software - Image-processing technology used to analyze Space Shuttle launch video and to study meteorological images also helps law enforcement agencies improve crime-solving video. The technology removes defects due to image jitter, image rotation and image zoom in video sequences. The technology also may be useful for medical imaging, scientific applications and home video.
Reflective blankets, which have become standard at marathons worldwide, help stabilize body temperatures.
Computer Technology - NASA Spinoffs
GROUND PROCESSING SCHEDULING SYSTEM - Computer-based scheduling system that uses artificial intelligence to manage thousands of overlapping activities involved in launch preparations of NASA's Space Shuttles. The NASA technology was licensed to a new company which developed commercial applications that provide real-time planning and optimization of manufacturing operations, integrated supply chains, and customer orders.uu
SEMICONDUCTOR CUBING - NASA initiative led to the Memory Short Stack, a three-dimensional semiconductor package in which dozens of integrated circuits are stacked one atop another to form a cube, offering faster computer processing speeds, higher levels of integration, lower power requirements than conventional chip sets, and dramatic reduction in the size and weight of memory-intensive systems, such as medical imaging devices.
STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS - This NASA program, originally created for spacecraft design, has been employed in a broad array of non-aerospace applications, such as the automobile industry, manufacture of machine tools, and hardware designs.
WINDOWS VISUAL NEWS READER (Win Vn) - Software program developed to support payload technical documentation at Kennedy Space Center, allowing the exchange of technical information among a large group of users. WinVn is an enabling technology product that provides countless people with Internet access otherwise beyond their grasp, and it was optimized for organizations that have direct Internet access.
AIR QUALITY MONITOR - Utilizing a NASA-developed, advanced analytical technique software package, an air quality monitor system was created, capable of separating the various gases in bulk smokestack exhaust streams and determining the amount of individual gases present within the stream for compliance with smokestack emission standards.
VIRTUAL REALITY - NASA-developed research allows a user, with assistance from advanced technology devices, to figuratively project oneself into a computer-generated environment, matching the user's head motion, and, when coupled with a stereo viewing device and appropriate software, creates a telepresence experience.
Other spinoffs in this area include: Advanced keyboards, Customer Service Software, Database Management System, Laser Surveying, Aircraft controls, Lightweight Compact Disc, Expert System Software, Microcomputers, and Design Graphics.
Consumer/Home/Recreation - NASA Spinoffs
ENRICHED BABY FOOD - A microalgae-based, vegetable-like oil called Formulaid developed from NASA-sponsored research on long duration space travel, contains two essential fatty acids found in human milk but not in most baby formulas, believed to be important for infants' mental and visual development.
WATER PURIFICATION SYSTEM - NASA-developed municipal-size water treatment system for developing nations, called the Regenerable Biocide Delivery Unit, uses iodine rather than chlorine to kill bacteria.
SCRATCH-RESISTANT LENSES - A modified version of a dual ion beam bonding process developed by NASA involves coating the lenses with a film of diamond-like carbon that not only provides scratch resistance, but also decreases surface friction, reducing water spots.
POOL PURIFICATION - Space technology designed to sterilize water on long-duration spacecraft applied to swimming pool purification led to a system that uses two silver-copper alloy electrodes that generate silver and copper ions when an electric current passes through them to kill bacteria and algae without chemicals.
RIBBED SWIMSUIT - NASA-developed riblets applied to competition swimsuits resulted in flume testing of 10 to 15 percent faster speeds than any other world class swim-suit due to the small, barely visible grooves that reduce friction and aerodynamic drag by modifying the turbulent airflow next to the skin.
GOLF BALL AERODYNAMICS - A recently designed golf ball, which has 500 dimples arranged in a pattern of 60 spherical triangles, employs NASA aerodynamics technology to create a more symmetrical ball surface, sustaining initial velocity longer and producing a more stable ball flight for better accuracy and distance.
PORTABLE COOLERS/WARMERS - Based on a NASA-inspired space cooling system employing thermoelectric technology, the portable cooler/warmer plugs into the cigarette lighters of autos, recreational vehicles, boats, or motel outlets. Utilizes one or two miniaturized modules delivering the cooling power of a 10-pound block of ice and the heating power of up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
SPORTS TRAINING - Space-developed cardio-muscular conditioner helps athletes increase muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness through kinetic exercise.
ATHLETIC SHOES - Moon Boot material encapsulated in running shoe midsoles improve shock absorption and provides superior stability and motion control.
Other spinoffs in this area include: Dustbuster, shock-absorbing helmets, home security systems, smoke detectors, flat panel televisions, high-density batteries, trash compactors, food packaging and freeze-dried technology, cool sportswear, sports bras, hair styling appliances, fogless ski goggles, self-adjusting sunglasses, composite golf clubs, hang gliders, art preservation, and quartz crystal timing equipment.
Environmental and Resource Management - NASA Spinoffs
MICROSPHERES - The first commercial products manufactured in orbit are tiny microspheres whose precise dimensions permit their use as reference standards for extremely accurate calibration of instruments in research and industrial laboratories. They are sold for applications in environmental control, medical research, and manufacturing.
SOLAR ENERGY - NASA-pioneered photovoltaic power system for spacecraft applications was applied to programs to expand terrestrial applications as a viable alternative energy source in areas where no conventional power source exists.
WEATHER FORECASTING AID - Space Shuttle environmental control technology led to the development of the Barorator which continuously measures the atmospheric pressure and calculates the instantaneous rate of change.
FOREST MANAGEMENT - A NASA-initiated satellite scanning system monitors and maps forestation by detecting radiation reflected and emitted from trees.
SENSORS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL - NASA development of an instrument for use in space life support research led to commercial development of a system to monitor an industrial process stream to assure that the effluent water's pH level is in compliance with environmental regulations.
WIND MONITOR - Development of Jimsphere wind measurement balloon for space launches allows for making high resolution measurements of the wind profile for meteorological studies and predictions.
TELEMETRY SYSTEMS - A spinoff company formed to commercialize NASA high-data-rate telemetry technology, manufactures a high-speed processing system for commercial communications applications.
PLANT RESEARCH - NASA research on future moon and Mars bases is investigating using plants for food, oxygen, and water to reduce the need for outside supplies. This research utilizes Hydroponics (liquid nutrient solutions) instead of soil to support plant growth and finds applications for vegetable production on Earth.
FIRE RESISTANT MATERIAL - Materials include chemically-treated fabric for sheets, uniforms for hazardous material handlers, crew's clothing, furniture, interior walls of submersibles and auto racer and refueler suits.
RADIATION INSULATION - Aluminized polymer film is highly effective radiation barrier for both manned and unmanned spacecraft. Variations of this space-devised material are also used as an energy conservation technique for homes and offices. The materials are placed between wall studs and exterior facing before siding or between roof support and roof sheathing. The radiant barrier blocks 95% of radiant energy. Successful retrofit installations include schools and shrink wrap ovens.
Other spinoffs in this area include: Whale identification method, environmental analysis, noise abatement, pollution measuring devices, pollution control devices, smokestack monitor, radioactive leak detector, earthquake prediction system, sewage treatment, energy saving air conditioning, and air purification.
Health and Medicine - NASA Spinoffs
DIGITAL IMAGING BREAST BIOPSY SYSTEM - The LORAD Stereo Guide Breast Biopsy system incorporates advanced Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs) as part of a digital camera system. The resulting device images breast tissue more clearly and efficiently. Known as stereotactic large-core needle biopsy, this nonsurgical system developed with Space Telescope Technology is less traumatic and greatly reduces the pain, scarring, radiation exposure, time, and money associated with surgical biopsies.
BREAST CANCER DETECTION - A solar cell sensor is positioned directly beneath x-ray film, and determines exactly when film has received sufficient radiation and has been exposed to optimum density. Associated electronic equipment then sends a signal to cut off the x-ray source. Reduction of mammography x-ray exposure reduces radiation hazard and doubles the number of patient exams per machine.
LASER ANGIOPLASTY - Laser angioplasty with a "cool" type of laser, caller an excimer laser, does not damage blood vessel walls and offers precise non-surgical cleanings of clogged arteries with extraordinary precision and fewer complications than in balloon angioplasty.
ULTRASOUND SKIN DAMAGE ASSESSMENT - Advanced instrument using NASA ultrasound technology enables immediate assessment of burn damage depth, improving patient treatment, and may save lives in serious burn cases.
HUMAN TISSUE STIMULATOR - Employing NASA satellite technology, the device is implanted in the body to help patient control chronic pain and involuntary motion disorders through electrical stimulation of targeted nerve centers or particular areas of the brain.
COOL SUIT - Custom-made suit derived from space suits circulates coolant through tubes to lower patient's body/ temperature, producing dramatic improvement of symptoms of multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other conditions.
PROGRAMMABLE PACEMAKER - Incorporating multiple NASA technologies, the system consists of the implant and a physician's computer console containing the programming and a data printer. Communicates through wireless telemetry signals.
OCULAR SCREENING - NASA image processing techniques are used to detect eye problems in very young children. An electronic flash from a 35-millimeter camera sends light into the child's eyes, and a photorefractor analyzes the retinal reflexes, producing an image of each eye.
AUTOMATED URINALYSIS - NASA fluid dynamics studies helped development of system that automatically extracts and transfers sediment from urine sample to an analyzer microscope, replacing the manual centrifuge method.
MEDICAL GAS ANALYZER - Astronaut-monitoring technology used to develop system to monitor operating rooms for analysis of anesthetic gasses and measurement of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen concentrations to assure proper breathing environment for surgery patients.
VOICE-CONTROLLED WHEELCHAIR - NASA teleoperator and robot technology used to develop chair and manipulator that respond to 35 one-word voice commands utilizing a minicomputer to help patient perform daily tasks, like picking up packages, opening doors, and turning on appliances.
Other spinoffs in this area include: Arteriosclerosis detection, ultrasound scanners, automatic insulin pump, portable x-ray device, invisible braces, dental arch wire, palate surgery technology, clean room apparel, implantable heart aid, MRI, bone analyzer, and cataract surgery tools.
Industrial Productivity/Manufacturing Technology - NASA Spinoffs
MAGNETIC LIQUIDS - Based on the NASA-developed ferrofluid concept involving synthetic fluids that can be positioned and controlled by magnetic force, the ferrofluidic seal was initially applied in a zero-leakage, nonwearing seal for the rotating shaft of a system used to make semiconductor chips, solving a persistent problem‹contamination due to leaking seals.
WELDING SENSOR SYSTEM - Laser-based automated welder for industrial use incorporates a laser sensor system originally designed for Space Shuttle External Tank to track the seam where two pieces of metal are to be joined, measures gaps and minute misfits, and automatically corrects the welding torch distance and height.
MICROLASERS - Based on a concept for optical communications over interplanetary distances, microlasers were developed for the commercial market to transmit communication signals and to drill, cut, or melt materials.
MAGNETIC BEARING SYSTEM - Bearings developed from Space Shuttle designs support moving machinery without physical contact, permitting motion without friction or wear, and are now used in electric power generation, petroleum refining, machine tool operation, and natural gas pipelines.
ENGINE LUBRICANT - A NASA-developed plasma-sprayed coating is used to coat valves in a new, ten-inch-long, four-cylinder rotary engine, eliminating the need for lubricating the rotorcam, which has no crankshaft, flywheel, distributor, or water pump.
INTERACTIVE COMPUTER TRAINING - Known as Interactive Multimedia Training (IMT), originally developed to train astronauts and space operations personnel, now utilized by the commercial sector to train new employees and upgrade worker skills, using a computer system that engages all the senses, including text, video, animation, voice, sounds, and music.
HIGH-PRESSURE WATERSTRIPPING - Technology developed for preparing Space Shuttle solid rocket boosters first evolved into the U.S. Air Force's Large Aircraft Robotic Paint Stripping (LARPS) system, and now used in the commercial airline industry, where the waterjet processing reduces coating removal time by 90 percent, using only water at ultra-high pressures up to 55,000 psi.
ADVANCED WELDING TORCH - Based on the Variable Polarity Plasma Arc welding technology, a handheld torch originally developed for joining light alloys used in NASA's External Tank, is now used by major appliance manufacturers for sheet metal welding.
Other spinoffs in this area include: Gasoline vapor recovery, self-locking fasteners, machine tool software, laser wire stripper, lubricant coating process, wireless communications, engine coatings, and engine design.
Public Safety - NASA Spinoffs
RADIATION HAZARD DETECTOR - NASA technology has made commercially available new, inexpensive, conveniently carried device for protection of people exposed to potentially dangerous levels of microwave radiation. Weighing only 4 ounces and about the size of a cigarette pack, it can be carried in a shirt pocket or clipped to a belt. Unit sounds an audible alarm when microwave radiation reaches a preset level.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE ROBOT - Remotely-operated robot reduces human injury levels by performing hazardous tasks that would otherwise be handled by humans.
PERSONAL ALARM SYSTEM - Pen-sized ultrasonic transmitter used by prison guards, teachers, the elderly, and disabled to call for help is based on space telemetry technology. Pen transmits a silent signal to receiver that will display the exact location of the emergency.
EMERGENCY RESCUE CUTTERS - Lightweight cutters for freeing accident victims from wreckage developed using NASA pyrotechnic technology.
FIREMAN'S AIR TANKS - Lighter-weight firefighter's air tanks have been developed. New back-pack system weighs only 20 lbs. for 30 minute air supply, 13 lbs. less than conventional firefighting tanks. They are pressurized at 4,500 psia (twice current tanks). A warning device tells the fireman when he or she is running out of air.
PERSONAL STORM WARNING SYSTEM - Lightning detector gives 30-minute warning to golfers, boaters, homeowners, business owners, and private pilots.
SELF-RIGHTING LIFE RAFT - Developed for the Apollo program, fully inflates in 12 seconds and protects lives during extremely adverse weather conditions with self-righting and gravity compensation features.
Other spinoffs in this area include: Storm warning services (Doppler radar), firefighters' radios, lead poison detection, fire detector, flame detector, corrosion protection coating, protective clothing, and robotic hands.
Transportation - NASA Spinoffs
STUDLESS WINTER TIRES - Viking Lander parachute shroud material is adapted and used to manufacture radial tires, increasing the tire material's chainlike molecular structure to five times the strength of steel should increase tread life by 10,000 miles.
BETTER BRAKES - New, high-temperature composite space materials provide for better brake linings. Applications includes trucks, industrial equipment and passenger cars.
TOLLBOOTH PURIFICATION - A laminar airflow technique used in NASA clean rooms for contamination-free assembly of space equipment is used at tollbooths on bridges and turnpikes to decrease the toll collector's inhalation of exhaust fumes.
WEIGHT SAVING TECHNOLOGY - NASA research on composite materials is used to achieve a 30-percent weight reduction in a twin-turbine helicopter, resulting in a substantial increase in aircraft performance.
IMPROVED AIRCRAFT ENGINE - Multiple NASA developed technological advancements resulted in a cleaner, quieter, more economical commercial aircraft engine known as the high bypass turbofan, featuring a 10-percent reduction in fuel consumption, lower noise levels, and emission reductions of oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, and unburned hydrocarbons.
ADVANCED LUBRICANTS - An environmental-friendly lubricant designed to support the Space Shuttle Mobile Launcher Platform led to the development of three commercial lubricants for railroad track maintenance, for electric power company corrosion prevention, and as a hydraulic fluid with an oxidation life of 10,000 hours.
ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM - The Flywheel Energy Storage system, derived from two NASA-sponsored energy storage studies, is a chemical-free, mechanical battery that harnesses the energy of a rapidly spinning wheel and stores it as electricity with 50 times the capacity of a lead-acid battery, very useful for electric vehicles.
NEW WING DESIGN FOR CORPORATE JETS - NASA-developed computer programs resulted in an advanced, lighter, more aerodynamically-efficient new wing for Gulfstream business aircraft.
AIDS TO SCHOOL BUS DESIGN - Manufacturer uses three separate NASA-developed technologies originally developed for aviation and space use in their design and testing of a new school bus chassis. These technologies are a structural analysis computer program infrared stress measurement system, and a ride quality meter system.
Other spinoffs in this area include: Safer bridges, emission testing, airline wheelchairs, electric car, auto design, methane-powered vehicles, windshear prediction, and aircraft design analysis.
Then there's also protein crystals. What are they? They're essential in producing medicines. But they grow painfully slow on the ground. In microgravity, they grow multitudes of times faster... on the order of months, IIRC. So every mission brings back a new stock of crystals that researchers need to experiment with and create new, lifesaving medications.