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NASA Technology Transfer Program Hosts MAGNET

Many Clevelanders don’t realize what a space gem we have right in our own backyard! NASA’s Glenn Research Center is located next to Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport, but it may be one of the region’s best-kept secrets.

MAGNET was recently invited by the Technology Transfer Office to tour the campus in hopes of discovering regional synergies that might benefit our local manufacturers. Representatives from the US Patent and Trademark Office were also on the tour, as the mission of our New Ventures team aligns well with the USPTO’s focus, sparking engaging conversations between the teams.

The group learned the main areas of focus for NASA include: Aeronautics, Space Technology, Science, Exploration Systems Development and Space Operations. Glenn’s Technology Transfer Office Chief Harvey Schabes noted, the core competencies at NASA Glenn include aircraft propulsion; in-space propulsion and cryogenics; power, energy storage and conversion; materials and structures for extreme environments; communications technology and physical sciences and biomedical technologies.

About 140 buildings house the 3,000 people who work on the center’s campus, with half serving as civil servants and the other half as contractors. There are thermal vacuum chambers to simulate the space environment, and four different wind tunnels, each a different size to enable a variety of speeds and velocities for mock values.

The campus houses many unique test facilities that will test everything from mechanical vibration to zero gravity research. The variety of simulations are created to test the hardware and ensure it can accommodate flight and space conditions, such as ice and the absence of gravity. The Mars Rover has been to Glenn for testing at its Simulated Lunar Operations Laboratory (SLOPE). The majority of the testing at Glenn is done on Technology Readiness Level 0 to 4, meaning these evaluations are conducted at the infancy stage to make sure the hardware or project is viable.

The Ballistics and Materials Impact lab tests everything from a titanium blade impact on an Inconel panel on a supersonic jet to foam impact. Gelatin “birds” are used to test engine blades. All testing is done to validate models that are scientifically created. The Graphics and Visualization (GVIS) Outreach lab was created for education and outreach. Through these simulations, groups can experience what it is like to walk on Mars, go to the Space Station, walk on the Moon and even try a flight simulator. Created in 1989, this is one of the oldest known VR labs.

NASA’s Technology Transfer University (T2U) connects entrepreneurs with NASA technology at the academic level. The instructor-led program and curriculum is designed to leverage the NASA development of technology to enrich the academic experience.

Jeanne King, NASA Glenn Innovative Partnership Specialist and Technology Manager noted that NASA is a “regional partner with shared resources and local connections.” King’s hope is for NASA’s talent to assist local manufacturers and innovators if a need arises for their niche services or facilities.

Thank you to the NASA team for the informative and exciting tour!


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