NASA’s Technology Transfer Program was designed to bring the cutting edge technology, developed by some of the nation’s best thinkers and creators, into the everyday lives of Americans. At the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), the Technology Transfer Team works closely with the innovators and scientists in the labs to understand the work that they are doing and determine if it has commercial potential. KSC has twenty-four Research and Technology focus areas, within those focus areas they engage in R&T development to enhance the long-term success of the resident spaceflight programs, enable NASA’s Exploration Mission, on the earth and on other planetary surfaces, and support the growth of US economic competitiveness, through technology partnerships and commercialization.
“Being here at KSC right now, you can really feel the momentum building,” said David Makufka, KSC Technology Transfer team lead. “There’s an excitement about space that most people haven’t felt since the country first had the Moon in its sights. Working in the Technology Transfer Office, we get to play an integral role in advancing the future of technology and initiating collaboration with industry.”
As a multi-user spaceport, KSC sees a tremendous amount of activity and collaboration with the commercial space entities that share its location. Similarly, much of the tech that is developed here is in support of launch/landing activities and research related to living and working in space, so a great deal of it is commercially viable for these commercial space companies.
In the post-shuttle era, the KSC Space Center has undergone something of a renaissance with the resurgence of interest in space exploration and the influx of commercial players. The KSC Space Center is now a multi-user spaceport, playing host to a number of commercial companies — providing the foundation for a robust space-based economy, with the potential for exponential growth. This advantageous location also has research benefits.
The KSC Beach Site Corrosion Lab is one of the most corrosive places in the country, making it an ideal locale to test new coatings. The Prototype Development Laboratory (PDL) is a full-service provider of custom tools and equipment to support the pursuit of innovative new solutions. PDL Design Engineering Services include mechanical engineering design and analysis, mechanisms and kinematics, and CAD/CAM. KSC’s Swamp Works is a unique conglomeration of engineering expertise and solution-minded thinking. Staffed with a mixture of engineers, physicists, and chemists, the lab operates on the principle of rapid iteration to quickly and cost-effectively improve the design concept.
The KSC Technology Transfer team is situated at the center of all of these unique innovation hubs, positioning it perfectly to stay up-to-date on new inventions and evaluate the commercial potential of the space solution developed in the various labs.
Technology Transfer is the tether between the space program, and the people it aims to benefit. While NASA’s mission is exploration, its primary activities involve research and development. Everyone here is working to solve problems that have never been tackled before, and many of those solutions have the potential to positively impact people on Earth. The Technology Transfer program works to bridge the gap between cutting edge research, and its tangible commercial application. We offer companies the opportunity to license NASA technology and use it in their business, a number of companies have been formed around NASA technology as well — the possibilities are really limitless.