NASA’s 50th anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the power of inspiration, innovation, and discovery. We eagerly look forward to the bright promise of new discoveries and innovations from the future of space exploration. These high expectations are based on the experience of the last five decades, with milestone moments both poignant and profound as the first steps were taken into the vastness beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
Space exploration has given us stunning discoveries and insights into our home planet, our solar system and the universe, but has also yielded innovations that created new markets and technologies that have moved our economy and benefited our daily lives in many ways.
“NASA opens new frontiers and creates new opportunities, and because of that [NASA] is a critical driver of innovation,” NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said. “We don’t just create new jobs, we create entirely new markets and possibilities for economic growth that didn’t previously exist.
Space activities create products and markets that provide benefits right here on Earth, benefits that have arisen from our efforts to explore, understand, and utilize space. Since NASA’s birth a half-century ago, rising living standards and technological advancement around the world have meant greater competition from more players.
As posed by Griffin, “If technological innovation drives competitiveness and growth, what drives innovation?” He adds: “There are many factors, but the exploration and exploitation of the space frontier is one of them. The money we spend – half a cent of the federal budget dollar – and the impact of what we do with it, doesn’t happen ‘out there.’ It happens here, and the result has been the space economy. So if America is to remain a leader in the face of burgeoning global competition, we must continue to innovate, and we must continue to innovate in space.”
The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which created NASA, directed NASA to provide for the widest practicable dissemination of information concerning results of NASA’s activities. Subsequent legislation recognized the transfer of federally owned or originated technology to be a national priority and mandated that each Federal agency have a formal technology transfer program. With offices at each of NASA’s ten field centers across the country, NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) facilitates the transfer of NASA-derived technology for commercial use, yielding many national benefits.
Douglas A. Comstock is director of the Innovative Partnerships Program, National Aeronautics and Space Administration. To learn more about NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, or to explore potential areas of interest for partnership with NASA, please go to http://www.ipp.nasa.gov