There is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of space exploration. One of the oft-cited pros is integrating the spin-off technologies developed for space into everyday life.

Did the research put in to the Apollo program produce any technologies that are still used today for non-space exploration uses?

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    $\begingroup$ Although "list questions" are often seen as bad on SE, I think this one is fine since The Apollo program has been inactive for a few decades. I would recommend a slight edit to the title so that it's very clear what you're asking, though. Edit suggestion incoming... $\endgroup$
    – JohnB
    Commented Jul 28, 2013 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ While not invented by NASA, Velcro gained world-wide popularity thanks to them. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ While this isn't related to Apollo, ESA has a page for technology transfer proposals: ESA Technology Transfer Network $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jan 9, 2015 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


Here are some Apollo specific innovations: microchip, cordless tools, joystick, CAT scans, technology in MRI machines, modern shoe designs, freeze dried food, vacuum sealed packages, dampening material, retro-reflector (detects chemical leaks), water purification, silicon based storage of records, fly-by-wire, ground water cleaning, large fabric roofs used in landmark buildings, anti-tip rafts, insulation blankets, and countless others.

And those are just commonly used innovations which had a specific link to the Apollo program. There are much more everyday innovations from the space program overall.

http://spinoff.nasa.gov/spinoff/database contains articles about all the spin offs from NASA programs.

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    $\begingroup$ Cellphone communication and CD/DVD storage use error correcting algorithms developed/pioneered for space communication. $\endgroup$
    – nos
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ I did not know before asking: spinoff.nasa.gov/spinoff/database. Maybe @matthewspear want to improve answer $\endgroup$
    – user55
    Commented Aug 4, 2013 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ An apt quotation: "All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?" $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 19:23
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    $\begingroup$ If you're talking about pure spinoff (developed for application in the space program but found use elsewhere), I'm not sure microchip belongs on the list. While its development was probably accelerated by the space program, I think it had its beginnings outside of space applications, and definitely predated Apollo - see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microchip. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jul 19, 2014 at 15:23
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    $\begingroup$ The microchip predates Apollo by at least a decade. In fact, if you dig into most of the common innovations listed by NASA, you find that NASA usually just adapted existing technologies -- like any other manufacturer. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 16:35

Combustion analysis computer programs and specifically exact reacting gas chemical kinetics programs were developed on the Apollo program to analyze and optimize rocket nozzle designs for efficiency improvements. Adaptation of these programs to other than rocket fuels provided the ability to analyze the mechanisms of NOx formation in fuel/air combustion processes. The programs analyze millisecond chemical species formation rates from many competing reactions. This never could be done before. Improved mathematics and computational capabilities provided the push.

In turn, this capability was employed in combustion devices like fossil fuel fired utility boilers, gas turbines and mobile sources to make significant reductions in the formation of NOx emissions. The technologies used for NOx control worldwide emanated from the computational chemistry calculations that were given the initial boost by the Apollo efforts.

We built a company based upon these spin-offs.


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