NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

Shelter, sustenance, communications and exploration gear -- in short, all the needs vital to a space traveler -- are provided by a new toy line developed in collaboration with engineers and scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.

The educational product line, "Mars and Beyond Science Exploration System," from Uncle Milton Industries Inc., Westlake Village, CA, features a domed tent, a drink dispenser, walkie- talkies and a robotic arm that extends to collect rocks and other objects. The toys, which will eventually be augmented by additional exploration gear and biological, geological and chemical sampling test kits, are designed to enthuse and teach youngsters about the space program. They have just begun to hit specialty toy store shelves in recent weeks.

Uncle Milton Industries licensed the JPL logo and received technical advice through the JPL Technology Affiliates Program, which enables businesses to form strategic alliances with JPL to license intellectual property and gain access to JPL's engineers and scientists to help solve technological problems. To date, more than 120 companies, large and small, have used the program to solve upwards of 200 specific technology challenges.

"Educational toys can be a wonderful and creative way of bringing the excitement of America's space exploration program to children of all ages," explained Merle McKenzie, manager of JPL's Commercial Technology and Regional Development Program. Each autumn, the program hosts an annual Toys, Games and Multimedia Workshop at JPL to inform the toy, entertainment and multimedia industries about space program licensing opportunities. The 1999 event is in the works for next October.

The four components of Uncle Milton's Mars and Beyond product line are an HM4Terra-Colony Habitation Module (domed tent), NM8 Hydropak Drink Unit (dispenser), CM5 Mission Communicators (walkie talkies) and the Em3 Robotic Extender Arm (specimen collector).

Further details about the Technology Affiliates Program are available from JPL's Commercial Technology Program web site at . JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology.

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