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NASA's Sights Set on Snowboard Technology Hot

Recon_GogglesTypically, it’s society that benefits from NASA’s space age scientific advancements, but now, the agency is looking to popular culture, specifically snowboarding, to enhance astronaut spacesuits.

In a recent report, NASA announced that it will examine and test snowboard goggle technology for inclusion its spacesuits.

Specifically, NASA is partnering with the Vancouver-based company, Recon Instruments, makers of the heads-up goggles, a GPS enabled alpine goggle with a head-mounted display.

Despite technological superiority, NASA spacesuits currently do not offer visual displays – limited to paper checklists worn on the arm.

NASA systems engineer, Scott Bleisath, who currently oversees the spacesuit research said in a joint press release, “Recon’s packaging of Heads Up Display goggles is interesting to us in that it provided an opportunity to evaluate utilization of this display technology without the need of wearing a full spacesuit. We have been considering in-helmet displays for some time now, and Recon’s current technology allows us the opportunity to collect early insights into how these displays might work in our future spacesuit designs.”

The science behind Recon’s goggles will undergo NASA scrutiny starting September 2011. The agency conducts annual field tests called ‘Desert RATS – Research and Technology Studies in Arizona. NASA scientists, engineers and astronauts decend upon Arizona to participate in development research in a location that closely mimics the environments astronauts will encounter during space exploration.

Results of the tests will influence the development and construction of NASA spacesuits in the future, although the future of the space program in the United States is largely in question.

Dan Eisenhardt, CEO of Recon Instruments said in the same release “Recon Instruments is extremely proud to have its technology considered by NASA to aid their astronauts in space exploration. We look forward to NASA’s Desert RATS and adjusting our technology, currently used for alpine sports, to provide a solution for NASA’s next generation spacesuits.”

There is no guarantee that NASA will use Recon’s product, but cutting edge technology has always been the agency’s calling card.

In the past, NASA’s usage of VELCRO led to the inculcation of the fastening system into everyday materials, but there are several other modernities owed to the space program.

Besides saving us from tying our shoes, NASA is also the driving force behind products like invisible braces, satellite radio, memory foam mattresses, ear thermometers, cordless tools and water filters.

Just another way that science effects everyday life, even our time on the slopes.

-Ryan O'Leary

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