When every gadget counts

Advances in technology through the space programmes

Because technology to monitor and insure the health of astronauts is crucial, many advances in equipment originated in the space programmes.

Sensors

For example, sensors originally developed to examine the effects of microgravity on humans have found applications to monitor babies, the elderly and other patients.

Body sensor equipment is also useful for the very fit. Athletes use essentially similar technology to monitor key bodily functions. The equipment they need shares many features with that of astronauts: like theirs, it must be tough, reliable, accurate, and lightweight.

Read more: Body monitors »»

Fabrics and fibres

Key innovations in the world of fabrics and fibres have also found their ideal testing ground in space. Recent examples include Aerogel, the most effective insulating material in the world, now worn as thermo-regulating garments by race car drivers and others.

Read more: From high-tech to high fashion »»

Personal hygiene

Hygiene is another area where the constraints of spaceflight are leading to innovative solutions. Water is heavy, and shipping costs to the Station high. A long, hot shower is not an option.

Solutions that allow astronauts to clean their teeth, bodies and hair while minimising or eliminating water use are crucial. These solutions find ready customers on Earth among those who have to live away from the comforts of plumbing and carry their own equipment, such as explorers, soldiers and hikers.

Read more: Hygiene »»

Last update: 17 October 2005

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