Popular Moon Landing Tech and Spinoffs
We've hacked the best moon tech for earthings.
The space race resulted in one of the most innovative decades in our history. The technology that made the moon landing possible is still part of all of our lives – and not just if you like drinking Tang and eating freeze dried foods. Contrary to popular belief, NASA didn’t actually invent Tang, but they did make it reach celebrity status when their very own John Glenn drank it in front of the world. Nevertheless, the Apollo missions can claim some pretty other amazing tech, including hacking a way to turn some of the first computer hardware and software into the tech we now use everyday. Here’s our Top 5 list of the ones that made the most impact:
1. Microchips. The Apollo Guidance Computer was so compact and efficient due to its pioneering use of integrated circuits, the earliest microchip technology. The engineers at Draper's MIT Instrumentation Lab figured out how best to shrink computer technology from the size of a room to one cubic foot, so it could fit in the Apollo spacecraft. The microchips we use today found in almost every digital device are descendants of this innovative technology.
2. Virtual Reality. The Draper Lab at MIT invented the most sophisticated 'space age' technology to navigate the Apollo spacecrafts to the moon. The software programs, computer hardware and corresponding codes all had to be tested here on Earth before they were ever flown to the lunar surface. So the lab created elaborate computer simulations to emulate every part of navigating moon missions. Astronauts and space engineers participated in what today's world would be known as some of the first VR experiences as they ran test after test in order to journey to, land on the moon and return home safely.
3. Space Age Cooling Suits & Flame-Resistant Clothing. The space suit worn by the Apollo astronaut crews employed a system of tubing with liquid running through to keep body temperature at a comfortable level. These ‘cool suit’s are used today by racecar drivers, workers in extreme conditions, and people with diseases that are not able to self regulate their body temperatures. In addition to these cooling suits, astronauts also wore clothing that was fire-resistant. These materials were initially developed when three astronauts lost their lives in a tragic fire on the Apollo 1 mission, but are now used to save the lives of firefights, motor sport participants and the military.
4. Water Purifier. Astronauts headed to the moon needed to have safe water at the ready over the course of many days. The same technology used to recycle water in space is now used in the developing world in areas struggling with clean water access. The Apollo missions team invented a small and portable system (slightly larger than a pack of cards) to dispense silver ions into the water supply to kill of bacteria. This technology was chlorine free and left no unpleasant taste to the water, and today it is has been expanded to the Space Station and beyond.
5. Lightning Detectors. After the near disastrous double lightning strikes suffered by the Apollo 12 mission NASA invested in a way of hacking the skies and protect their rockets. They developed lightning detecting technology that airports and weather experts still use today. The system is actually capable of detecting the buildup of electrical charges in the atmosphere before a storm even develops, allowing flight controllers to reroute airplanes before lightning strikes.