Apart from releasing a batch of 56 patent carefully selected to the public domain, NASA is also offering a searchable database of similar patents in the public domain. While private enterprises like SpaceX is expected to benefit significantly from this initiative, many of these patents are useful for companies engaged in nonaerospace activities too. Some of the other areas where NASA’s spinoffs came in handy for occupants of the Earth are breast biopsy and artificial limbs.
According to executives overseeing NASA’s program of technology transfer, NASA is hoping to foster a new era in which entrepreneurship will help America lead in economic competitiveness and high-tech manufacturing. He added that NASA was expecting entrepreneurs to examine new ways for commercialization of various technologies offered by NASA. More importantly, NASA is offering these technologies to small businesses free of cost.
NASA’s program executive for Technology Transfer, Daniel Lockney also added that the technologies now being offered in the public domain were developed to help NASA advance its missions but could have possible applications in the non-aerospace sector too. Considering that small businesses often have to spend a small fortune to achieve a technological breakthrough in certain sectors, NASA offering these technologies free of the cost comes as a boon, particularly for the small business segment.
The decision to transfer these technologies into the public domain followed a rigorous process of review by the decisions makers who focused on technologies with high unit value but low chances of being picked up outside companies since the resulting products may have the inadequate demand or needs further search to make them commercially viable. Some such examples quoted by NASA officials are:=
- Technology for mitigation of dangerous gasses when humans live or work in space
- Inventions concerning rocket nozzles, propellants, injection systems that are helpful in launching commercial spacecraft from the new generation series.
- Methods to control airflow surrounding vehicles during hypersonic flights
The technology transfer program of NASA includes over 1,000 technologies including categories like sensors and optics, manufacturing and is offered to industries through licensing arrangements.