NASA has selected several new concepts of experimental space technologies that, in theory, can be implemented in the distant future. NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program has selected 14 fascinating projects that, according to the space agency, “deserve further research”. While some may remain at the stage of an interesting concept, others may even be able to change space exploration forever.
The NASA NIAC program will provide each of the 14 research groups with grants in the amount of 175 thousand dollars to further develop their ambitious ideas. “The research will help NASA determine whether these futuristic ideas can lay the foundation for future space exploration capabilities and provide excellent new missions,” Michael Lapointe, NIAC program manager, told NASA.
Among all the concepts, three stand out the most. The first to attract attention was the TitanAir project from planetary scientist Quinn Morley from Planet Enterprises. Quinn’s idea is to create an airplane that can land and float on Titan’s methane lakes. Most importantly, TitanAir can collect rare samples from surprisingly Earth-like rivers, lakes and oceans on Saturn’s moon. NASA is already planning its Dragonfly mission to achieve a Titan moon in the 2030s.
Laser propulsion system
Another striking concept is the idea of building a propulsion system developed by Artur Davoyan, an associate professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. The system is based on the existing technology of light sails for transporting spacecraft with payload through the Solar System and interstellar space. It uses a granular beam of ultra-high-speed microscopic particles driving lasers to propel spacecraft. According to Davoyan, such sails will be able to deliver payloads to the outer parts of the Solar System in less than a year. And in three years, the installation will help the spacecraft to overcome distances 100 times greater than the distance from Earth to the Sun.
Oxygen pipeline on the Moon
Peter Carreri of Lunar Resources in Houston proposed a lunar pipeline to transport oxygen extracted from lunar ice. The concept would be used for future NASA Artemis missions, and it was proposed in response to the space agency’s current plans to transport oxygen to a future colony on the Moon. The Carreri concept will provide permanent access to oxygen for lunar settlers and significantly reduce transportation costs.
Earlier we reported on the TOP 5 most ambitious NASA space projects.
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