So it’s no big surprise that we get geeky about space technology: big challenges, brilliant solutions, and inventions that work here on Earth too. With the launch of the new Solar Orbiter mission, what better excuse for us to share our favourite straight-from-space innovations?
Laptops – That’s right, one of our everyday essentials came from space exploration. Modern laptops evolved from the Shuttle Portable On-board Computer (SPOC), created in 1983. Probably had better battery life and less turn-it-off-and-on-again issues.
Camera phones – In the 1990s boffins came up with a scientific quality camera small enough for space travel. This led to the camera technology we have in phones today. Wonder if astronauts use selfie-sticks?
Wireless headsets – Developed by NASA so astronauts can move around freely without getting in a tangle. Now doing the same for us here on Earth, although it’s not mission control we’re listening to.
Satellite TV – Before astronauts made the voyage, unmanned satellites were used to beam data back from space. Nowadays umpteen satellites take care of all sorts of important transmissions including your latest Netflix binge watch.
Cordless tools – Proud owner of a cord-free drill? Next time you’re putting up a shelf, think about the fact the technology came from the need to take rock samples from the moon without a plus size extension lead. Nearly as important as that shelf.
Infrared ear thermometers – So much easier than sitting patiently with a glass tube stuck under your tongue, those handy in-ear thermometers were first developed for astronauts with tech used to measure the temperature of stars. Yes, really.
Final frontier food
Eating in space gave scientists some food for thought, like where to store it, how to cram it all into a small space and what appetising meals to make. You know, how we all feel after a bumper shop.
Then a NASA/Nestlé partnership came up with freeze-dried food. 98% of the nutrients at 20% of its original weight – genius! It’s a process used all through the food industry. So thank space travel for instant noodles and those freeze dried berries in your cereal.
Want to eat like an astronaut? It’s not all squeezy tubes of goo and astronaut ice cream. These days space food is pretty varied and lots of normal (ish) meals make their way into orbit.
Right, we’re off to do some space baking…