Down to Earth: How NASA tech can get your next IoT deployment off the Ground, with NASA’s Dan Lockney

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This week on First Things First, I sit down to chat with Dan Lockney, the Technology Transfer Program Executive at NASA. We discuss what the NASA Technology Transfer Program does, talk about some of the commercial applications of NASA’s technologies, and dive into the rich resources that NASA provides for engineers that are looking for new ways to innovate.

The Story:
NASA Brings Space Technology Down to Earth

Through its Technology Transfer Program, NASA is helping engineers and organizations find new commercial applications for its innovative technologies. Through a wealth of resources and support, the Technology Transfer Program has helped many organizations develop successful products and solutions that make use of its out-of-this-world technology.

The Lesson:
You’re Only as Strong as Your Support System

No matter what IoT application, you’re looking to develop, you need a dedicated team and a strong support system to be successful.

  • Remember the people behind the technology. It’s important to support the engineers that are developing these innovative applications.
  • The team is your most important asset. If you don’t have the right team in place, it’s difficult to develop a successful application.
  • Get help from NASA! There’s a good chance NASA has run into the same technology problems you’re experiencing.

About Our Guest: Daniel Lockney

Daniel Lockney is the Technology Transfer Program Executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. In this position, he’s responsible for agency-level management of NASA intellectual property and the transfer of NASA technology to promote the commercialization and public availability of federally-owned inventions to benefit the national economy and the U.S. public.

He started his career with NASA in 2004 as a contractor, converting to civil service in 2010.

You can find Dan on LinkedIn or visit his NASA bio for more information.

Show Notes

Don’t miss some of this episode’s memorable moments:

1:51 – Dan talks a little bit about how NASA’s Technology Transfer Program helps bring NASA technologies back down to earth.

4:09 – Dan gives some examples of technology that NASA has developed from sensors that can detect a human heartbeat under 20 feet of rubble to the lightweight high res camera that’s used in cell phones.

11:32 – Dan and Chris talk more about how the NASA Technology Transfer Program can support engineers throughout development to make these technologies useful for alternative applications.

13:33 – Dan tells listeners about all the ways they can learn about and see how NASA technologies have impacted commercial applications.

21:53 – Dan discusses some of the robotics applications that were developed from NASA technologies.

26:11 – Dan talks more about the applications for some of NASA’s software technology.

27:49 – Dan reveals his best advice for organizations that are working to develop their own innovative IoT applications.


“A lot of folks think that our portfolio is going to be very aerospace driven or related just to rockets and space stuff, but it turns out that NASA does work in a lot of different areas. And we’re actually developing things like new composites, lighter weight materials, fireproof materials, heat resistant materials, medical protocols of devices, sensors.”

“NASA doesn’t patent software, and the U.S. government doesn’t hold copyright, so we actually give away all of our software if it has use or application in some other field.”

“The team is the most important. You could have all the other elements lined up, but if you don’t’ have the right team together, it’s very difficult to make it.”

“Let’s say you do have that idea and you’re progressing and moving toward making a product or service and you run into some sort of a challenge. You don’t have to beat your head against a wall. You don’t have to go looking everywhere and solve everything on your own because there’s a chance that NASA has run into a similar problem and developed a solution already and it’s available to you.”

Additional Resources

  • The NASA Spinoff online publication provides over 2,000 different examples of commercial technologies that were developed for NASA.
  • Take a look at some of the NASA technologies that are now commercially available in cities and houses on the Nasa City site.
  • Visit to access over 1,000 free engineering software tools that are free to use.
  • Check out for more robust resources that are free to access.
  • Read more about the use studies Dan talked about in this episode where NASA technology was used for compact spectrometers that unveil clues to diagnose cancer, silicon diode sensors that track extreme temperatures, image censors that enhance camera technologies, and CO2 sensors that monitor vehicle emissions.

About Our Sponsor

First Things First is sponsored by Telit, a global provider of wireless connectivity modules, platforms, IoT operator services and professional services. Telit supports thousands of direct and indirect customers by enabling hundreds of millions of connected ‘things.’ With almost two decades of IoT innovation experience, Telit delivers secure, integrated end-to-end IoT solutions for many of the world’s largest brands, including enterprises, OEMs, system integrators, and service providers across industries.