31 Amazing NASA Inventions We Use In Our Daily Life

Many countries invest billions of dollars in space programs. The United States has been the leader since 1958 – They spend more than $25 billion per year on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Some people question this significant spending on space exploration.

The truth is NASA, since its inception, is doing much more than just studying outer space. 

In fact, it has contributed to various aspects of our daily lives. Numerous products we use regularly, from household comforts to advancements in transportation and healthcare, have roots in NASA’s research and development.

We are highlighting a few amazing NASA inventions that have become integral parts of our daily existence.

Did you know? 

NASA developed a special pen, called “space pen,” capable of writing in microgravity. The Fisher Space Pen Company, which markets these pens, has sold over 15 million units. 

31. Portable X-Ray Instrument

NASA has a long history of advancing imaging techniques for space missions. They developed a portable X-ray instrument called Lixiscope (Low-Intensity X-Ray Imaging Scope). 

This battery-powered device uses a small amount of radioactive isotope to create an instant image. It is currently manufactured by Lixi, Inc, which holds an exclusive license for one variant of the device. 

30. Ear Thermometers

The infrared technology used in ear thermometers was adapted from a similar technology NASA used to measure the temperature of stars. 

Ear thermometers became popular in both clinical settings and households due to their accuracy and efficiency in measuring body temperature. They have improved the way we monitor and measure body temperature, making the process more convenient and comfortable for individuals of all ages.

29. Shoe Insoles

In the late 1950s, NASA developed 3D polyurethane foam fabric for boots to reduce impact by adding springiness and ventilation. This innovation has influenced the design of modern athletic shoes, with the widespread incorporation of cushioned insoles or air pockets for enhanced comfort and performance.

28. Enriched Baby Food

NASA experimented with algae as a potential food supply for extended space journeys. During these experiments, they discovered that a compound in algae contains two fatty acids similar to those found in human breast milk. This discovery eventually led to the development of Formulaid, an enriched infant formula.

27. Ultrasonic Measurements 

NASA developed an ultrasonic bolt elongation monitor to assess high-pressure loads and tension on bolts and fasteners. 

A digital version of this device is now applied in diverse fields, including groundwater analysis, non-destructive evaluation of railroad ties, radiation dosimetry, and medical testing devices. The range of applications for this technology continues to grow.

26. Safety Grooving

To reduce aircraft accidents on wet runways, NASA’s Ames Research Center introduced safety grooving, which involves cutting grooves into concrete surfaces. This innovative technique was later extended to regular roads and highways. Its purpose is to minimize skidding and stopping distances, while simultaneously enhancing a vehicle’s ability to navigate curves.

25. Fire Resistant Reinforcement

NASA funded Avco Corporation to create a heat shield for the Apollo mission. The objective was to dissipate energy during reentry through controlled charring, forming a protective coating to block heat penetration.

This innovative heat shield technology found additional applications beyond space missions. Avco Corporation adapted it for uses like foams in aircraft, fire-retardant paints, and steel coatings designed for constructing high-rise buildings.

24. Microencapsulation Technology

NASA developed Pollution Remediation, a microencapsulation technology that has revolutionized the way oil spills are cleaned.  

This innovation involves thousands of microcapsules, which are tiny beeswax balls with hollow centers. These microcapsules safely and effectively clean petroleum-based pollutants from water.

By preventing chemical compounds from crude oil, such as petroleum hydrocarbons and fuels, from settling, this technology helps limit damage to ocean beds.

23. Anti-Icing Systems

NASA’s Glenn Research Center developed an effective anti-icing technology to enhance the safety and performance of aircraft. It utilizes electrically conductive materials. 

It involves embedding conductive materials, such as carbon fibers or particles, into the leading edges of aircraft wings and other surfaces prone to icing. When activated, an electric current is passed through these embedded materials, producing heat and preventing ice accumulation

This anti-icing technology has not only enhanced aircraft safety but has also found applications in other areas like power lines, wind turbines, and and satellite surfaces.

22. Remote Controlled Ovens

The EWT (Electronic Worldwide Telescope) software originated from NASA’s research and development efforts in the late 1990s. It was developed to empower International Space Station (ISS) astronauts to control a device remotely over the internet. 

As the EWT software matured, NASA recognized its broader potential beyond space applications. The agency collaborated with TMIO (Technology Management and Integration Office), further refining this technology. 

One notable outcome of this collaboration was the development of a remote-controlled intelligent oven. It was a major milestone in the world of smart appliances.

21. Strong Lubricants

NASA developed a solid, oil-free lubricant called PS300. It can reduce friction and emission and excels at operating in high-temperature conditions, offering reliability and low maintenance.

Originally designed for space applications, its versatile qualities have found widespread use in various industrial applications, including electrical turbogenerators and refrigeration compressors. 

20. Improved Radial Tires

The collaboration between NASA and private companies, particularly Goodyear Tires, to develop robust tires from fibrous materials is a perfect example of technology transfer and innovation.

NASA was focusing on developing tires that could withstand the unique challenges posed by Mars’ surface conditions, such as its rocky and uneven terrain. Goodyear Tires, known for its expertise in tire technology, further refined the fibrous materials concept.

They came up with a new radial tire that demonstrated an increased life expectancy of 16,000 kilometers over traditional tires.

19. Structural Analysis Software

NASA has developed numerous advanced computer programs to address structural challenges and automate certain tasks, and one such program is the NASA structural analysis software, known as NASTRAN.

This highly sophisticated program conducts complex analyses of designs, predicting how various elements will react under different conditions. NASTRAN is not limited to space-related applications; it is also utilized in the design processes for various structures, including Cadillacs, roller coasters, and other intricate constructions.

18. Video Image Stabilization and Registration


NASA developed the Video Image Stabilization and Registration system (VISAR) to help the FBI better investigate low-quality video clips. This technique is particularly useful for enhancing dark and shaky videos, often captured in challenging conditions, such as nighttime or by small handheld devices.

VISAR can analyze videos frame by frame, convert analog to digital format, and deliver a stable output without altering the original footage.

17. Invisible Braces

Teeth-straightening has become less noticeable, thanks to NASA’s Advanced Ceramics Research. In collaboration with Ceradyne, they developed translucent braces inspired by the technology used to protect the infrared antennas of heat-seeking missile trackers.

These braces, made from a type of transparent ceramic called Translucent Polycrystalline Alumina (TPA), offer a discreet option for teeth alignment.

16. OpenStack

In collaboration with Rackspace, NASA contributed the initial code for OpenStack, an open-source cloud computing platform. OpenStack was officially launched in 2010 as a joint project between NASA and Rackspace.

OpenStack has gained widespread popularity, being adopted by many companies and businesses globally. It provides a framework for creating and managing both public and private clouds, offering a range of services for computing, storage, and networking.

15. Chemical Detection

NASA, in collaboration with Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS), developed moisture-sensitive and pH-sensitive sensors designed to detect and analyze corrosive conditions in aircraft.

These sensors undergo a color change when they come into contact with the chemical reactions in the aircraft, providing a visual indication of potential issues.

IOS further adapted and developed these sensors for detecting chemical warfare agents and potential threats in security applications.

14. Firefighting Equipment

The National Bureau of Standards and NASA collaborated to create a lightweight breathing machine consisting of an air bottle, harness, and face mask. It is made of aluminum composite – the same material used in rocket casings.

This apparatus is now used by firefighters as a protective device against smoke inhalation injuries.

13. Scratch-Resistant Lenses

Anyone who wears glasses or ski goggles can relate to this story. NASA required a special coating to shield its equipment in space from dirt and debris. Consequently, they developed a unique plastic coating, originally designed for astronaut helmet visors.

This special coating not only served its intended purpose in space but also made lenses ten times more scratch-resistant. This led to its growing popularity in eyeglasses and goggles, offering improved durability for everyday use.

12. Cordless Motor Drill

Next time you use a cordless tool, give a nod to NASA. They created a light but powerful gadget, a battery-operated motor drill, to dig into the moon’s surface for rock and soil samples.

11. Memory Foam

Memory Foam is made of polyurethane with additional chemicals to increase its density and viscosity. Originally created for NASA aircraft seats to absorb shocks during landings (in the 1960s), it’s now playing a crucial role in improving sleep for millions of people.

10. Space Blanket

The space blanket, also known as a Mylar blanket or emergency blanket, is a lightweight, low-bulk blanket made of heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting, often coated with a metallic reflecting agent such as aluminum.

It was first used by NASA in 1964 during the Gemini mission. However, due to its effectiveness in conserving body heat and its portability, it became an essential element in emergency preparedness kits, first aid supplies, and survival gear.

9. Freeze Drying

Benchtop freeze dryer

NASA did a lot of research on space food before the Apollo missions. To keep the food fresh for a long period, they collaborated with Nestle and came up with a new concept called freeze-drying. It involves dehydration of food in which food is frozen and the surrounding pressure is reduced to allow the frozen water in food to sublimate.

8. Water Filters

NASA has been at the forefront of developing water purification technologies for use in space missions. They have employed advanced water purification methods to ensure astronauts have access to clean and safe drinking water during their missions.

One such method involves using activated charcoal, which has a porous structure capable of absorbing impurities and contaminants. Other filtration methods involve membranes and ion exchange resins to effectively remove particles and contaminants from water.

In addition to supporting space missions, these methods have also contributed to advancements in water treatment technologies on Earth.

7. LED


NASA’s LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology was initially aimed at growing plants in space. This technology has also paved the way for valuable medical devices such as WARP 10 (a high-intensity LED unit). 

WARP 10 offers temporary relief from joint pain and minor muscle stiffness and enhances local blood circulation. It works by exposing tissues to specific wavelengths of light to stimulate cellular functions.

6. Smoke Detector

You might have this life-saving device installed in your home and office. Did you know NASA invented the first adjustable smoke detector?  

Originally designed to alert astronauts to the presence of fire or toxic gases in the air, it has since become a crucial safety feature for many households and workplaces.

5. Ventricular Assist Device

Image credit: Stanford Health Care

NASA, in collaboration with Dr. George Noon, Dr. Michael DeBakey, and MicroMed Technology, developed the Ventricular Assist Device.

This pump is employed to support blood flow and heart function in individuals with weakened hearts. It proves especially valuable during or after heart surgery, such as when patients are awaiting a heart transplant or when they are not eligible for the surgery.

This Ventricular Assist Device has become a crucial medical innovation in enhancing cardiac care.

4. LZR Racer Suit

The LZR Racer Suit is an advanced swimsuit made of high-tech swimwear fabric composed of polyurethane and woven elastane-nylon. It was developed by Mectex using NASA fluid flow analysis software and wind tunnel testing facilities.

This innovative swimsuit can hold the body in a more hydrodynamic position, facilitating better oxygen flow to the muscles. It features ultrasonic welding to minimize drag, making it a cutting-edge solution for competitive swimming.

3. Solar Cells

The widespread use of solar cells on buildings, houses, and calculators traces its origins back to NASA. The agency initiated the technique of converting the Sun’s energy into a power source. 

To do this, they established a 28-member union called ERAST (Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology). The goal was to develop an unmanned aircraft capable of flying at high altitudes for extended durations, harnessing solar energy for power.

2. Artificial Limbs

To improve artificial muscle systems for use in space robotics and extravehicular activities, NASA developed artificial limbs. This technology is now making a significant impact, enabling hundreds of thousands of physically challenged people to lead more normal lives.

1. Long Distance Telecommunication

Before sending humans into space, NASA developed and launched satellites into Earth’s orbit to monitor space, conduct research, and facilitate communication with scientists on the ground.

This technology has been adapted for over three hundred satellites, playing a crucial role in connecting people worldwide every day. These satellites serve various purposes, including telecommunications, weather monitoring, and scientific research.

More to Know

Are all NASA inventions directly related to space exploration?

No, that’s not the case. While NASA primarily focuses on space exploration and research, many of its technological innovations have applications that extend far beyond the confines of space. 

NASA’s R&D efforts often lead to advancements in various engineering, technological, and scientific fields, with practical applications in everyday life on Earth.   

Are NASA inventions available for public use and commercialization? 

Yes, NASA often makes its inventions accessible to the public and encourages commercialization through its technology transfer programs. 

NASA also files patents for many of its inventions to protect intellectual property rights. Interested individuals, organizations, or companies can then license these patented technologies for commercial use. 

What efforts does NASA make to share its discoveries and innovations with the public?

NASA communicates its achievements to the public through various educational programs and public outreach events, such as science fairs, exhibitions, and space-themed festivals.

NASA shares real-time updates, stunning imagery, and informative content on social media platforms. The agency has its own television channel, NASA TV, that broadcasts pre-recorded and live content related to scientific discoveries, space research, and updates on ongoing missions. 

Moreover, it runs dedicated educational websites that offer a wealth of information, multimedia content, and interactive tools to enhance our understanding and interest in space science.  

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Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

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1 comment
  • Geoffrey Forrest says:

    Two questions: How many of these, “Inventions” are really Applications of formerly created products, like, “Ring”, from video door cameras to a mobile phone app?
    How many would have come about 5-10 years later anyway or were in the works
    by other people, or countries?