Six surprising everyday objects that wouldn't exist without Nasa – including smoke detectors and shoe insoles | The Sun

MISSIONS to outer space don't just offer the world more rockets – but the everyday household items of the future, too.

Nasa's Apollo programme was integral to the invention of so many items you can find around the home – so, here's six surprising objects that wouldn't exist without the US spacy agency.

Modern water filters

Scientists trying to nail spacecraft filtration as part of the Apollo mission is what inspired modern water filters.

Nasa had to figure out how to keep large quantities of water uncontaminated for long periods of time in the extreme conditions of space.

Although basic water filters had existed since the mid 1950s, it wasn't until Nasa's Apollo programme in 1963 when modern filtration systems started to emerge. 


Microprocessors, also known as microchips or semiconductors, are used in most of today's electronics, such as laptops, mobile phones and modern cars.


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While electrical engineer Jack Kilby is officially credited with inventing the integrated circuit in 1958, Nasa's Apollo programme actually kickstarted the advancement of microchips – which have since become highly politicised bits of tech.

"One of the first high-profile usages of microchip technology was in the Apollo Guidance Computer with its DSKY interface, which was used to provide onboard computation and control for navigation, as well as control over the Command Module and Lunar Module," according to a report from

Cordless tools

Nasa couldn't send its astronauts into space without the means to maintain their spacecraft, but tools with cords were a risk off-planet.

Alongside Black+Decker – the company behind the 1960s Dust Buster – the space agency was able to create a cordless zero-impact wrench, which could spin bolts in zero gravity without spinning the astronaut.

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This research, conducted in the mid 1960s, was pivotal to the development of the cordless rotary hammer drill which would then be used to extract rock from the moon's surface.

Thanks to these studies, Black+Decker was able to use this research to develop its famous cordless 'Dust Buster' handheld vacuum cleaner.

Smoke detectors

While invented by Francis Robbins Upton in 1890, smoke detectors weren't actually adjustable until Nasa came along.

Just before Nasa launched the US' first-ever space station – Skylab – in 1973, the agency was focused on building a model with variable sensitivity.

These were to be used on Skylab to detect toxic vapours on board, and were successful.

Now they're essential in every household.

Satellite TV

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nasa also had a major part to play in the invention of satellite TV.

The first satellite capable of relaying TV signals was Telstar 1, which the agency launched in 1962.

It began as a joint project between Bell Laboratories to develop an experimental satellite communications system over the Atlantic Ocean.

Nasa continued to develop this technology in a bid to reduce background noise and errors in transmitted signals.

And lo, the ability to transmit high-definition video and audio via satellites was forged.

As a worldly good first, and your entertainment second.

Shoe insoles

Maybe the most surprising of inventions over at Nasa is the humble shoe insoles.

They're a favourite among sports folk, and those who listen to their podiatrist.

But Nasa needed a 3D 'spacer' material to be used inside the boots which were intended to be the first to step foot on the moon.

This 'space' – now known as an insole, was intended for cushioning as well as ventilation.

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They apparently gave astronauts better control and agility while on their feet and longevity while on their feet, the lunar boot was an overshoe that slipped on over the integral pressure boot of the spacesuit. 

Now, you can find them on sale on any high street in the UK.

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