Super grease slides into space hall of fame
The transporter crawler carries the space shuttle Discovery to the launch pad in this file image
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) -- A super lubricant that greases the 12 million pound shuttle transporter and a telecommunications system that evolved into DirecTV are the latest inductees into the Space Technology Hall of Fame.
Only 34 products have joined the elite group since 1988, when the U.S. Space Foundation and NASA began honoring space program technologies that spin into useful terrestrial products. Past honorees include cordless power tools, first
used by astronauts and now commonplace in households, and the DeBakey heart pump.
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An environmentally friendly lubricant that transports the space shuttle earned a spot in the 2000 Hall of Fame class. The Kennedy Space Center in Florida, needing a non-toxic lubricant for a crawler that moves the space shuttle to its launch pad, called on SunCoast Chemicals in Daytona Beach.
'The EPA was getting on their case'
"They (KSC) were desperate. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was getting on their case," said SunCoast representative Chris Fornilli on Wednesday. The old petroleum-based lubricant contained oils and heavy metals, creating environmental concerns, he said.
"Ours is synthetic and biodegradable," Fornilli said.
The X-IR lubricant works in unusually demanding conditions. The size of a football field, the space shuttle truck crawler must carry a 12 million pound payload as it rumbles to the launch pad at a steady 1 mph pace.
"The tip of the shuttle can't move more than the size of a basketball, so it has to be a real smooth ride," said CEO Buck Parker Sr.
Many industries now use variations of the lubricant in greases, brake fluid and air conditioner compressor fluids, the Space Foundation said. Users include auto makers, mining and drilling companies and the largest ocean vessels in the world, according to SunCoast.
Chris Fornilli, Les Byrne and E.T. Longo show their slippery
space shuttle stuff
TV dish, surgical light also honored
Another inductee is a technology from military and telecommunications satellites that Hughes Space and Communications Co. and DirecTV used to develop a direct-to-home television service for residential customers.
As a result, DirecTV enters the homes of millions through a small dish that receives transmissions from DirecTV's satellite network and broadcast center, "forever changing the way people watch television," a Space Foundation statement said.
Light emitting diodes designed to stimulate plant growth in space earned the third and final 2000 Hall of Fame award. The Wisconsin Center for Space Automation and Robotics created the LEDs. Quantum Devices Inc. then adapted them for medical applications, developing a light source that hospitals can use in surgical environments.
The Space Foundation was to honor the trio during an awards ceremony Thursday evening at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"It is significant that the judges chose these three technologies because of their diversity of impact upon all of us," said Space Foundation spokesman Steve Eisenhart in a statement.
Past inductees to the Space Technology Hall of Fame:
- Active Pixel Sensor
- DeBakey Blood Pump
- Heart Defibrillator Energy Source
- Miniature Accelerometer
- Global Positioning System (GPS)
- Temper Foam
- Advanced Communications Technology
- Stereotactic Breast Biopsy
- Anti-Shock Trousers
- Fire-Resistant Aircraft Seats
- Radiant Barrier
- Anti-Corrosion Coatings
- Parawings (or Hang Gliders)
- Digital Image Processing - Medical Applications
- Excimer Laser Angioplasty System
- Liquid-Cooled Garments
- Physiological Monitoring Instrumentation
- Direct Readout Satellite Data System
- Earth Resources Laboratory Applications Software - ELAS
- Automatic Implantable Cardiovertor Defibrillator
- PMR-15 Polymide Resin
- Heat Pipe Systems
- Safety Grooving
- Cordless Tools
- Fabric Roof Structures
- Scratch-Resistant Lenses
- Improved Firefighter's Breathing System
- NASA Structural Analysis Computer Software - NASTRAN
- Power Factor Controller
- Programmable Implantable Medication System
- Sewage Treatment With Water Hyacinths
Ex-Internet mogul shakes up stodgy space investment club
April 5, 2000
All eyes on the future as Space Symposium convenes in Colorado
April 4, 2000
U.S. Space Foundation
NASA Human Spaceflight
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