Isabelle Taft is a researcher and journalist in Washington, D. C.
No, the agency did not invent Tang or Velcro, but its discoveries have many applications in our day-to-day lives
Fifty years ago, when Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon, the moment represented years of work and technical accomplishment. But it also left NASA struggling with a daunting new challenge: figuring out what to do next. Over the years, it has answered this question in part by highlighting the dizzying array of inventions it has inspired—some 1,500 a year. “Besides rocket science itself, perhaps the biggest thing people fail to understand about the agency is how its work has reverberated throughout the world in ways we experience directly every day,” writes Isabelle Taft. “It’s a mark of the agency’s enduring influence that even if we never make it there, we’re already living in a society forged by outer space.”