NASA makes 56 patents public domain, launches searchable database

NASA has released a bunch of patents for its technologies so that anyone can use them. A total of 56 "formerly-patented" technologies developed by the government are now available in the public domain, meaning they can be used for commercial purposes in an unrestricted manner. To make it easier to find these technologies and others like them, NASA has also created a new searchable database that links the public to thousands of the agency's now-expired patents.

According to NASA, the patents it has released may have non-aerospace applications that could help companies with commercial projects underway. By using these already established technologies, companies can save a lot of time and money by sidestepping the need to create their own alternatives or pay out hefty sums in licensing deals.

Of the 56 formerly-patented technologies, users will find things like methods of propulsion, thrusters, rocket nozzles, advanced manufacturing processes, and more. As well, the space agency says that commercial space companies may be able to better "familiarize" themselves with NASA's capabilities and, perhaps, doing so will lead to more collaborations between the space agency and private companies.

The 56 public domain patents are only a small piece of NASA's easily accessible data, though — there are tons of NASA patents that have expired, making the technology contained within public domain for unrestricted use. You can now more easily find those patents using NASA's searchable database (here).

Said NASA executive Daniel Lockney:

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.