ESA presents down to Earth space technology
Visitors to ESA’s Pavilion at the Paris Air Show 2007 were able to see and hear for themselves the difference that space technology is making to our daily lives as ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office illustrated how advanced space technologies benefit Europe’s citizens.
A fascinated audience was told how European companies develop and adapt technologies originally created for space programmes in a variety of ways. To name just a few: improved car brakes, a surveillance system for monitoring Europe’s dykes, insulation material for firefighters’ suits, high-performance skis and the improved prosthetics used by athletes in the last Paralympics.
Two spin-off textile products were on show for the audience to see and feel: the fire protective 'Hydro*Jacket' and the super-insulating 'Absolut Zero Jacket', both developed by the Italian company Grado Zero Espace.
The Hydro*Jacket is used for protection by firefighters and steel workers when exposed to extreme and life-threatening heat conditions. It uses materials and technologies originally created for space suits to protect astronauts from the intense heat of direct sunlight in space.
The Absolute Zero Jacket incorporates the very special Aerogel technology used to insulate instruments and probes sent to Mars. Aerogel earned a place in the 2003 Guinness Book of Records as the lightest solid in the world by volume, as it consists of 99.8% air and 0.2% of silica dioxide. Now used in the Absolute Zero Jacket, it provides ideal protection for people in extremely cold environments.
A number of questions were posed by members of the audience. Niels Eldering, from ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office, replied to one about the kind of companies interested in technology transfer. "Besides established firms, we see more and more entrepreneurs coming up with new ideas for technology transfers for innovative products and systems, we also have entrepreneurs using space spin-offs in the tourism, gaming and advertising industries."
The audience also wanted to know about the trends that can be expected in the near future. Niels Eldering replied: "a noticeable trend is that as well as the transfer of space technology, today many start-up companies develop applications based upon satellite navigation systems. In our Business Incubator initiatives at ESTEC, ESOC and ESRIN we support a variety of start-ups, including those applying satellite navigation technology in markets such as safety and security, and healthcare services."
The next opportunity to see the Grado Zero Espace jackets will be at the Wearable Technologies Congress in Munich on 9 July 2007.