NASA launches searchable database of public domain patents

The space agency made 56 more patents freely available for use, as well.

NASA has not only released 56 carefully selected patents to the public domain, but also launched a searchable database containing thousands of expired patents. While it might seem like private space companies like SpaceX will get the most out of this initiative, let's not forget that a lot of NASA technologies could be adapted for non-aerospace applications. There are tons of NASA spinoffs, and the agency's work contributed to the development of artificial limbs and breast biopsy, among many other things.

Daniel Lockney, NASA's Technology Transfer program (which oversees this project) executive said in a statement:

"By making these technologies available in the public domain, we are helping foster a new era of entrepreneurship that will again place America at the forefront of high-tech manufacturing and economic competitiveness. By releasing this collection into the public domain, we are encouraging entrepreneurs to explore new ways to commercialize NASA technologies."

In the past, the agency made thousands of patents available for licensing and even offered small businesses the right to use its technologies for free. These public domain patents are, however, "freely available for anyone to use." The agency decided on which ones to release to the public by identifying those that "are less likely to be licensed by outside companies because of low demand for resulting products (e.g. spacecraft)" or still require "significant development before [they are] marketable." NASA's final list includes patents for advanced manufacturing processes and various rocket-related inventions. You can find the full list, along with thousands of previously expired patents, on the agency's public domain database.