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More Than Just Moon Rocks

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By Rachel Dry
Sunday, July 19, 2009

You may not be able to get to the moon anytime soon, but space -- or at least stuff developed for space -- isn't totally out of reach. It's in your bathroom (infrared ear thermometers), bedroom (mattresses and pillows) and kitchen (enriched baby food). Some highlights, courtesy of Daniel Lockney, editor of Spinoff, a publication that covers commercialized NASA technology:

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High-tech shut-eye

In a search for fatigue-resistant seats for long flights, NASA developed a specialized foam. Today it's found in Tempur-Pedic mattresses and pillows.

The DustBuster

NASA worked with Black & Decker to create longer-lasting batteries for cordless power tools. "They weren't cleaning crumbs off their tools in space," Lockney notes, but the core technologies developed were later incorporated in commercial tools -- including the mini-vacuum.

Eagle Eyes sunglasses

This brand of shades uses technology developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to block certain harmful ultraviolet rays. The lens material was originally designed for welders -- and is now useful, the company notes, for "the needs of any lifestyle."

Freeze-dried food

NASA pioneered techniques to dehydrate food, a process that preserves nutrients, makes food weigh less and, Lockney notes, "some people would say it preserves the taste." (Not everyone's a fan.)

The "space rose"

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. sent a miniature rose plant aboard Discovery to find out what a rose smells like in another gravity system (as sweet, it turns out, but different). Shiseido cosmetics used the "space rose" scent in its fragrance Zen.

Climate control


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