News in early July is usually dominated by Fourth of July celebrations and sporting events like the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, and the MLB All-Star Game. This July has been no different, other than coverage of three separate American billionaires going, or soon planning to go, into outer space.

Traditionally, and even very recently, space exploration has deserved the attention of the media and the rest of us. Past trips into space have served to inspire individuals, nations, and the entire world, a symbol, if not actual proof, of the progress of society. These recent endeavors into space are said to prove space travel can be successfully performed by the private sector and that reaching space is within the grasp of the average person. It’s also been frequently dubbed nothing more than the competition between, and placation of, the massive egos of these three billionaires. Regardless, it got me thinking about the progress provided by the space race and exploration of the universe, as well as other historic undertakings, that have led directly to progress here on Earth.

It’s also been frequently dubbed nothing more than the competition between, and placation of, the massive egos of these three billionaires.

Research and development into technology to send man to the moon, defend our country, and protect us from disease have not only allowed us to accomplish these things but also provided for the way we now live our daily lives.

NASA has an annual publication, called Spinoffs, that documents products that resulted from NASA research now used in industry and by consumers. The pub reports to have documented more than 2,000, for instance, memory foam, freeze-dried food, firefighting equipment, so-called “space blankets,” the Dust Buster, cochlear implants, and CMOS image sensors.

The same can be said for the military, and specifically DARPA, or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Probably most notably, DARPA was responsible for the concept and development of ARPANET, described as a prototypical communications network, and the digital protocols that “gave birth to the internet.”

According to The Economist, the agency has “shaped the modern world,” and said, “Moderna’s covid-19 vaccine sits alongside weather satellites, GPS, drones, stealth technology, voice interfaces, the personal computer and the internet on the list of innovations for which DARPA can claim at least partial credit.”

Based on the success in developing technology, DARPA-modeled agencies are also being deployed in other sectors and industries, such as ARPA-Health, an agency launched in June to “accelerate innovations in health and medicine.”

In fact, the idea of technology that starts out benefitting one industry or sector and finding its way to being useful in another is not uncommon, and not uncommon to the quality sector. Computed tomography was championed as a measuring instrument in aerospace, automotive and medical technology. As Florian Knigge writes, “Industrial computed tomography has made considerable progress in recent years. As a result, the technology, which has long been established in research and quality laboratories, has now also reached the production floors. The volume data generated is no longer used only for standard nondestructive testing—i.e., the search for defects such as cracks or pores—but increasingly also for the measurement and imaging of complex components and tools.”

So, read Florian’s article, “CT for Dimensional Precision Measurement Reaches Production Floors” and everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!