Athens-based Sunpower soon could see its super-efficient engine technology blast into the heavens though a partnership with NASA. Sunpower founder William Beale, a former Ohio University professor, developed Sunpower's signature Stirling engine – a free-piston Stirling engine that will run for 100,000 hours without stopping – that's been the basis for the company's cryo-coolers, engines and compressors. Sunpower's cryocoolers have long cooled down highly sensitive sensors, including medical devices, nuclear material detection devices and their engines have been developed for solar, biomass, diesel, and natural gas generators. But recently the company has set its sights higher, into space to be exact, through a partnership with NASA that will launch Sunpower technology into deep space. Sunpower grew 32 percent between 2008 and 2009, starting 2010 with 71.