As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of the lunar module and onto the moon, a crew on the ground monitored the astronauts' vital signs in real-time. They wore devices which measured their heart rates and body temperatures and transmitted that info down to earth.
Spacelabs Healthcare in Snoqualmie designed that technology for NASA.
“We knew we needed to be able to see how they were doing, monitor their health, so this was the first application for what we would call telemetry monitoring, being able to monitor someone when they're outside, when they're away from you,” said Jim Green, Spacelabs president.
That technology transformed modern healthcare. After the moon landings, Spacelabs focused on manufacturing medical devices to monitor patients in hospitals and clinics.
“We are in probably 5,000 hospitals in the United States and thousands of other hospitals outside of the U.S., so it's a very high probability that if someone went to the hospital and went to any one of the departments, it's a pretty good chance that they're touching some of our equipment,” Green said.
A small device, which patients can wear, beams health data to a central location and has roots in the space program.
Spacelabs also contributed technology to the Gemini program, including the first American spacewalk.