You may have heard of a space mattress created by NASA from a revolutionary material called memory foam and are eager to buy one. Before you do, let me tell you that there is no NASA memory foam and no space bed technology and companies like Tempur-Pedic only use the NASA connection to sell more mattresses.
Mattress companies mention this in their advertising to increase the credibility of their toppers and beds. After all, if this material is from NASA, then it must make an excellent mattress, right? Also imagine how appealing is the thought of sleeping on a NASA mattress. Read what makes the best memory foams first and also which companies send out memory foam samples.
A form of visco-elastic foam was, indeed, first developed in the 70s in conjunction with the Space Program to help astronauts absorb enormous G-forces at liftoff and re-entry but that’s not what manufacturers are talking about.
NASA Memory Foam Mattress vs Tempur Mattress
When people compare NASA mattresses to the well-known Tempur-Pedic brand, they assume sleeping surfaces made from this revolutionary technology existed in the first place. But this never happened. So why was it never used?
The original NASA foam was never suitable for sleeping because it broke down in time and lacked the comfort needed to make a good mattress. But the Program never intended to use space foam for bedding. Remember, it was developed for astronauts’ seats, not for sleeping.
Once released to the industrial world, progress was imminent. Years of research and development by the Swedish company Tempurpedic did turn this early recipe into a unique material now commonly known as memory foam. Some people still like to call it NASA foam.
This earned them the Certified Space Technology status usually given to a “product that is the direct result of technology developed for space programs, or advances and improvements in such technology”.
Progress continues as other companies work to improve the Tempur-Pedic mattress recipe.
Tempur-Pedic is also the only manufacturer today who acknowledges, somewhat vaguely, admittedly, the true NASA connection. Their website says:
An imperfect version of TEMPUR foam material was developed for NASA in the 1970s, designed specifically to conform to any individual’s body and relieve the pressure of the tremendous forces of gravity the astronauts experienced during lift off and flight
All companies, including the above-mentioned Tempur, should be more open in admitting that what we’re sleeping on today is not a NASA product, but rather, a by-product.
Why Wait For 30 Years
So why did it take 30 years for this material to be used in our beds and mattresses? While space foam was highly promising in its original form, it proved to be highly difficult to manufacture.
As a result, Tempur foam was first perfected for hospital beds using a proprietary manufacturing process. But the material was too costly to be used anywhere other than in the medical field.
It’s only recently that the manufacturing process became advanced enough to create memory foam mattress toppers, beds and pads that are durable enough, comfortable enough, and more importantly affordable enough to end consumers.