The Apollo Effect

We tend think of the Apollo program as nothing more than sending astronauts to the moon. But the program proved to be much more than that.

Apollo proved to be a bonanza for technology, and it spun off a host of inventions that permeate our economy to this day. NASA was responsible for developing freeze-dried food for zero-gravity mealtime, cordless tools that could be used to collect Moon samples, digital signal processors to enhance pictures of the Moon (a precursor to the MRI machine), and camera-on-a-chip technology used in smartphones today; along with remote cameras, microphones, and other communications equipment capable of allowing the American people a front row seat to the mission.

I can’t resist including a few more Apollo-based innovations. This is just a sampling:

Lightweight mini-computer
Kidney dialysis machine
Smoke detector
Rechargeable pacemaker
CPAP breathing machine
Advanced prosthetics
Lead paint detector
Improved vehicle brakes

Not only did these inventions quickly find their way into the lives of Americans, many of them produced abundant tax returns for the government itself. The plan catalyzed consumer industries and sent the U.S. economy soaring to unprecedented levels.