NASA has released 56 formerly-patented agency technologies into the public domain, making its government-developed technologies freely available for unrestricted commercial use.
In addition to the release of these technologies, a searchable database now is available that catalogs thousands of expired NASA patents already in the public domain.
These technologies were developed to advance NASA missions but may have non-aerospace applications and be used by commercial space ventures and other companies free of charge, eliminating the time, expense and paperwork often associated with licensing intellectual property.
The technologies include advanced manufacturing processes, sensors, propulsion methods, rocket nozzles, thrusters, aircraft wing designs and improved rocket safety and performance concepts.
“By making these technologies available in the public domain, we are helping foster a new era of entrepreneurship that will again place America at the forefront of high-tech manufacturing and economic competitiveness,” said Daniel Lockney, NASA’s Technology Transfer program executive. “By releasing this collection into the public domain, we are encouraging entrepreneurs to explore new ways to commercialize NASA technologies.”
This patents release is the latest in NASA’s long tradition of extending the benefits of its research and development into the public sector, where it may enhance the economy and quality of life for more Americans.
The release also may help familiarize commercial space companies with NASA capabilities and result in new collaborations with private industry.
The innovations included in this transfer were selected by NASA officials using a rigorous review process, during which decision-makers looked for technologies that offer the potential for high unit values but are less likely to be licensed by outside companies because of low demand for resulting products (e.g. spacecraft), or the technology still requires significant development before it is marketable.
A few examples include:
- Technologies designed to mitigate the dangerous gases created as humans live and work in space
- Inventions related to rocket nozzles, injection systems and propellants that might help launch a new generation of commercial spacecraft
- Methods for controlling airflow around vehicles in hypersonic flight
NASA's patent portfolio, managed by the agency’s Technology Transfer Program, includes more than 1,000 technologies in categories such as manufacturing, optics and sensors, and is available for industry use through licensing agreements.