Fire-fighting eco-friendly gas
A special gas is used to steer satellites. This gas is stored as a solid in unpressurised cylinders, which means that it is both low maintenance and low cost. This is perfect for fighting fires in offices or libraries because it reduces the risk of damaged documents and it is better for the environment than traditional methods.
Banishing explosive sparks in underground mines
The risk of explosion in mining is very significant and so plastic cannot simply be substituted for glass on computer screens due to the risk of sparks from static charges. A material developed to coat the lens of a camera used in space is the perfect solution because the outer layer stops the build-up of electrostatic charges, thus reducing the risk of explosions.
Search and rescue
A global satellite-based search and rescue system is used collaboratively by 41 countries to provide accurate locations and improve response times.
Portable ground antenna transmit and receive (GATR)
The portable, inflatable GATR is a communication system that targets geostationary satellites to establish critical communications. With a slight modification it now supports a range of missions, including natural disaster response and support relief efforts, providing much needed high bandwidth satcoms in remote regions.
Monitoring forests and fires
Direct readout satellite technology developed to analyse gases and particles in space has been installed on towers and masts connected to a remote central office to monitor forests and detect potential fires.
Electronic nose to detect fire
To monitor air quality on the International Space Station an advanced sensor was required. This sensor processes odours to determine if it should alert the people aboard. The same technology can be applied to fire detection and is currently used on the Stockholm Metro.
Humanitarian de-mining device
To burn through landmine cover, rocket propellant can be used as a low-cost flare. This is a much safer replacement for traditional methods and is particularly cost-effective. Also, because there is no explosion, the damage to the land is reduced.
Video image stabilisation and registration (VISAR)
Based on expertise and equipment used for analysing satellite video, NASA researchers created technology which improves images from all sorts of cameras, including mobiles, security devices and cameras on moving police cars. This has allowed clearer analysis of crime scenes, such as the 1996 Olympic Games bombing in Atlanta.
Fire resistant aircraft seats
After the Apollo 1 tragedy, a special fire-resistant coating was developed for spacecraft and aircraft seats. It has been proven to save 20–25 lives a year because it reduces the amount of toxic gasses released in high temperatures.
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre, scientists developed an anti-corrosion coating to help the satellite’s launch structures withstand the vast changes in temperature. This robust coating is quick drying and bonds well to steel which also makes it ideal for many commercial uses such as bridges, pipelines and military tanks.
Lightweight breathing system for firefighters
Apollo astronauts required a sophisticated portable life support system in order to survive walking on the moon. The lightweight design is now used by firefighters as it provides clearer peripheral vision and increases mobility. Results show that inhalation injuries have been vastly reduced since the breathing system’s introduction.
Protecting police officers
Incorporated into the design of an astronaut’s spacesuit is a flexible, durable and strong technology which is now worn by police officers. The strength combined with flexibility is ideal for such body armour, which is also used by the army. (TurtleSkin® products)
Early warning of biological threats
Originally used when searching for life on Mars, bio-sensor technology has been further developed to detect targeted biological warfare. These sensors can detect disease-carrying bacteria, viruses and parasites,
and issue alerts for rapid action. The sensors are also used in agriculture and for testing drinks, showers and beaches.
Tracking a person overboard (POB)
An open radio frequency allows all boats to search for a missing person but they need to know where to look. POB is attached to a lifejacket and uses satellite navigation technology to transmit accurate signals of the person’s whereabouts. This is an improvement from the current system which only has the coordinates of where the person fell overboard, whereas POB is able to take into account tides and currents.