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50 Ways NASA Changed Our Lives In The Past 50 Years

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NASA, that often-maligned federal agency, celebrates its 50th birthday today. Let's take a look at fifty ways the space agency has changed our lives over the past fifty years:

1.The hand-held vacuum cleaner

The cordless miniature vacuum cleaner was born after Black & Decker developed a self-contained portable drill for the Apollo Moon landings between 1963 and 1972. The machine used a specially developed computer program, meaning it used less power to extract core samples from beneath the Moon's surface. That computer programme helped the company develop more battery-powered gadgets, among them, the cordless mini vacuum cleaner.

2.Air-cushioned trainers

In the early 1980s, a process known as "blow rubber moulding" was used to produce space helmets. Using this technology, former Nasa engineer Frank Rudy pitched an idea for an in-trainer shock absorber to the Nike Corporation. He envisaged a trainer with hollow soles filled with shock-absorbing material to cushion the impact of running. Rudy's idea included a pad of interconnected air cells and the resulting trainer was called the Nike Air.

3.Firefighter breathing apparatus

Before 1971, the average weight of breathing apparatus was more than 30 pounds. Carrying the extra weight was so physically gruelling that some firefighters opted to attack flames without any equipment. However, engineers at Nasa adapted the life-support systems used in spacesuits for use by emergency services. Four years later, experts had designed apparatus that weighed a third less and offered better fit and visibility.

Read the full list from the Independent.