Watch the Space Technology Hall of Fame 2020 induct 3 vital communication spinoffs from space tech

Three commercial space technologies devoted to distance communications are receiving one of the highest industry honors — induction into the Space Technology Hall of Fame.

The accolade is awarded to those space technologies with “life-changing” potential and is meant to highlight the scientists, engineers and innovators behind the work, according to a statement from the Space Foundation, which manages the awards. The induction comes amid World Space Week 2020, which is celebrating how satellites improve life on Earth.

You can watch the virtual induction ceremony on Thursday (Oct. 8) at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT) in the window above or directly from the Space Foundation here.

“Our class of 2020 inductees are no strangers to transforming and adapting to achieve success. Each of them has taken an existing space technology and adapted it to address everyday needs on Earth, and serves us on our best days, as well as our most challenging,” Space Foundation CEO Tom Zelibor said in the same statement.

“Telemedicine, teleconferencing, and telecommunications — all are vital to the world’s security, commerce, and connectivity, and they are at the core of the three technologies being inducted this year. They stand as prime examples of how space technology improves life for everyone.” 

The inductees received their awards during the same year that the novel coronavirus pandemic forced billions of workers worldwide out of the office and into their homes to comply with physical distancing measures. This situation has pointed to the need for distance communications and information for organizations to continue their work during the pandemic, which erupted in the United States in March and continues today.

The 2020 inductees are:

Audio conference bridge technology (Compunetix)

Individual inducted: Giorgio Coraluppi, president and director, Compunetix

Organizations inducted: Compunetix, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Compunetix provides audio conference bridge technology that allows for grouping calls between destinations across the world, as well as software-based switching. 

This commercial system is used by nearly every major conference call provider. The technology was first developed for a 1987 NASA contract to replace a more intensive analog switching system the agency was then using.

Apollo 70 cardiac care monitoring system (Spacelabs Healthcare)

Organizations inducted: Spacelabs Healthcare, NASA Johnson Space Center

Spacelab designs and manufactures medical devices that record information about patient health and transmit them so doctors can monitor the patient remotely. 

The technology was first developed for NASA’s Gemini and Apollo space missions in the 1960s and 1970s, to keep an eye on astronaut health while astronauts were in Earth orbit or traveling to the moon. Spacelab took over the technology afterwards and adapted it for commercial use in hospitals worldwide.

Traveling-wave tube amplifier (L3Harris Electron Devices)

Organizations inducted: L3Harris Electron Devices, NASA Glenn Research Center

The technology of traveling-wave tube amplifiers (TWTA) is nearly a century old, having been used to amplify radio frequency signals in the 1930s. NASA and L3 brought the technology to space in the 1960s, starting with the Telstar 1, a communications satellite that flew with TWTA in 1962. 

The amplifiers have flown on every NASA science spacecraft since 1972, the Space Foundation stated. L3 is the only company that provides space-certified TWTAs in the United States. The technology is used today for mobile satellite voice and data service, broadband internet service and video distribution, among other applications.


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