Thank you, NASA: The Unusual History of Memory Foam

Are you one of the millions of people who sleep on a mattress made with memory foam? This remarkable invention’s origins can be traced to the space program. Here is the surprising story behind memory foam: It took off because of a NASA mission. Memory foam was the brainchild of Charles Yost, a visionary aeronautical engineer in Asheville, N.C., who helped build a recovery system for the Apollo command module in 1962. Four years later, the NASA contractor was given a new mission: to develop airline seats that offer better impact protection in the event of an accident, as well as enhanced passenger comfort on long flights. Yost, who died in 2005 at the age of 71, created a new type of flexible polyurethane foam material that conformed to whatever shape was pressing against it, returning to its original shape when the pressure was removed, providing an even distribution of body weight. Early on, Yost called this tempur foam, while others referred to it as “slow spring back foam.” Technically, it is viscoelastic foam, but widely referred to as memory foam. I can’t write about memory foam without giving a shout-out to one of our CertiPUR-US® participating foam producers [...]