Do you ever find yourself stretching ideas like strands of silk, to see how far they could possibly go? Have you ever imagined connecting seemingly disparate ideas into a fantastic network of gossamer engineering? If you are the type of person who is at their best while unfurling their invisible skills of linkage, you may be well suited to lesser-known sectors of the space industry: Spin-off and Spin-in.
Spin-off refers to the transference of technology developed for the space industry out into other industries. There are thousands of spin-off products with surprising everyday benefits, including toothpaste that you can swallow, improved sports equipment, medical devices, insulating paint, and a home kitchen gardening appliance. The attractive and interactive spin-off website NASA@ Home and City is bursting with interesting and inspiring examples of space-born ideas given a makeover on earth.
If after browsing these resources you are inspired to spin some ideas of your own, check out NASA’s partner page for links to research and development partnering tools. This is one example of many entry points into partnership and funding. You can also explore similar partnership options that may be available through other space agencies.
The mirror of spin-off is spin-in, the transfer of technology into the space industry. This type of innovation can be seen in the very literal example of the SpiderFab project developed by Tethers Unlimited. This project brings popularized 3-D printing to the cosmos by proposing to shoot the space equivalent of printer and ink into orbit and “print” a spacecraft, thereby saving on launch costs. It also happens to be modeled on a spiderweb, literally using nature as a spin-in device. Now that is impressive creative thinking.
Do you have any great ideas for spin-off or spin-in? I’ll love to hear about them. Feel free to post in the comments below.