It's finally here: the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing is tomorrow.

It turns out NASA keeps a running tally of the most interesting innovations that came out of the space program on its website NASA Spinoff

While NASA takes credit for thousands of innovations, here's a look at some of the most interesting.

1. Freeze-dried foods

If you are old enough to have had Tang for breakfast, or if you served in the military and have eaten MREs, you have the space program to thank.

2. Dustbusters

Really, any handheld, battery-powered, cordless tool. Because how are you going to plug in a drill during a spacewalk?

3. Digital cameras

There's a lot of technology in your iPhone's camera that originated in the space program.

4. Precision GPS

NASA takes credit for developing software that "that has enabled precision GPS capable of guiding commercial aircraft, self-driving farm equipment, and more."

5. Truck aerodynamics

NASA figured out physics tricks that reduce truck fuel consumption by 6,000 gallons a year.

6. Safety grooving

NASA realized if you cut grooves into concrete runways, they can help aircraft (and the Space Shuttle) land more safely.

7. Shock absorbers

Not for your car, for buildings and bridges. The tech NASA built to buttress launch pads against rockets now protects against earthquakes.

8. CAT scans

NASA says it can be credited for this technology as part of its effort to computer-enhance photos from the moon.

9. Digital fly-by-wire

Until the space program, aircraft controls were directly, mechanically connected to remote parts on an airplane.

10. Enriched baby formula

"While developing life support systems for Mars missions," NASA writes, "NASA-funded researchers discovered a natural source for an omega-3 fatty acid that is now incorporated into more than 90 percent of baby formulas on the market."

11. Cloud-free satellite imagery

As NASA states: "If you've ever used Google Earth to scope out a location from above, you can thank NASA for the cloud-free views that let you see the landscape's details."

12. Emergency blankets

Marathons wouldn't be the same without these crinkly, silver blankets at the finish line.

13. Advanced water filters

The same tech used in Apollo is now used to clean water in remote villages.

14. Cochlear implants

An engineer who was hearing-impaired figured out how to "develop an implant that worked by electric impulses rather than sound amplification," according to NASA.

15. Memory foam

"Perhaps the most widely recognized NASA spinoff, memory foam was invented by NASA-funded researchers looking for ways to keep test pilots cushioned during flights," the space agency writes.

16. Athletic shoes

The most advanced designs have tech originally designed for astronaut boots.

17. Smoke detectors

NASA needed super-advanced ones that were reliable and wouldn't produce many false alarms. You likely have similar ones in your home today.

18. Crop forecasts

NASA satellite data helps crop yields.

19. Gigapan photography

This is more from the Mars programs, but NASA research figured out how to combine many small digital photographs into a single large photo. We use it for a lot of things now.

20. Aerodynamic swimsuits

Competitive swimmers can thank NASA for its wind-tunnel tested designs.

21. Winglets

These are the little curl-ups at the end of commercial airline wings. NASA says they're the result of "key aerodynamic advances made by NASA researchers."

22. Invisible braces

A NASA contractor created "translucent ceramic," so if you had clear braces on your teeth, thank the space program.

23. The electronic thermometer

Because you wouldn't want to stick a mercury thermometer in your mouth -- or anywhere else -- in space.

24. Rechargeable batteries for hearing aids

A similar "necessity is the mother of invention" innovation.

25. Cardiac pump

NASA figured out how to simulate fluid flow through rocket engines; now the same technology can keep people who are waiting for heart transplants alive.

26. OpenStack cloud computing platform

NASA's description: "An effort at Ames Research Center to standardize NASA websites, dubbed Project Nebula, unexpectedly led to a breakthrough in cloud computing technology."

27. Food safety protocols

Basically, the risk of an astronaut getting food poisoning was so great that NASA teamed up with Pillsbury to improve the state of the art drastically.

Published on: Jul 19, 2019
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