NASA jumps on the fair use train

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a United States Federal Government agency that oversees the country’s aerospace research and space programs.

NASA has, in the past, had resources available for free use. However during the first week of May, NASA released fifty-six formerly-patented technologies as well as a database that are available in the public domain for free fair use.

Because these technologies have been made for fair use they have eliminated time, expense (as they are free) and paperwork for licensing intellectual property for companies and individuals wishing to use the technologies alike. The technologies available are inclusive of: advanced manufacturing processes, sensors, propulsion methods, rocket nozzles, thrusters, aircraft wing designs and improved rocket safety and performance concepts.

NASA’s Technology Transfer program executive, David Lockney, had this to say on the matter:

“By releasing this collection into the public domain, we are encouraging entrepreneurs to explore new ways to commercialize NASA technologies.”

One of NASA’s available technologies to the public domain is the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

BEAM was launched on April 8. Although the installation of BEAM is yet to be completed at the end of May, Dan Huot – a NASA public affairs officer – reported to the Spaceflight Insider that:

“The first human-rated expandable structure to be flown in space, now attached to the International Space Station,”

BEAM has several sensors inside it that will study how BEAM copes with being in space through measuring radiation levels, pressure, and detecting impacts from space debris. Once this test is done and if it goes off well then BEAM will be detached in a span of two years after being sent into the atmosphere.

Another patent made available to the public domain is the method of manufacturing carbon nanotubes.

There have been private aerospace companies that have already benefited from NASA patents. For example a patent originally drafted in the nineties, the inflatable TransHab space modules led to BEAM using the technology from the nineties patent to develop their own inflatable space habitats.

By NASA releasing these patents to the public domain, they are essentially extending the benefits of their research and development into, not only the public sector, but also the international sector. This is because international governments, companies and individuals can implement the research and development taken from NASA to their own country thus enhancing the home-country’s economy and aerospace sector.








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