NASA just invested in 10 new visionary space technologies

Revolutionary space technology that'll take us into the future.

NASA just invested in 10 new visionary space technologies
Photo by NASA on Unsplash
  • NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program invests in new space technology concepts every year.
  • This year's technologies range from smart space suits to Venus aircraft.
  • These concepts will be put to the test to see if they are viable.

Nuclear propulsion and lunar mining conjure up wild visions of a new space age. Our best minds are currently working on making these speculative space inventions a reality. Those are just two of the technologies that NASA has selected to research and invest in as part of their NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program for 2019.

The program is funding a total of 18 studies of which they'll determine the feasibility of early-stage technologies that could contribute greatly to the advancement of space exploration.

From space debris cleanup to interstellar fly-bys, the technologies have the potential to usher in great innovative feats in outer space.

Here is a selection of 10 of the most exciting new NASA space tech investments.

Lunar mining outpost

TransAstra Corporation

Lunar-Polar Propellant Mining Outpost (LPMO): Affordable Exploration and Industrialization

University of Central Florida researchers and the TransAstra Corporation are working on the study of how to build a Lunar Polar Mining Outpost (LPMO). The UCF team led by Dr. Joel Sercel is providing expertise on how to find proper site selection, define the lunar terrain and find properties of lunar ice deposits.

The mission architecture is based on two new innovations that'll help "solve the problem of affordable lunar polar ice mining for propellant production."

Their analysis suggests that the lunar topography shows near polar craters of permafrost in total darkness which have perpetual sunlight up to 10 to 100s of meters. This is important because it would allow a lander or lunar mining outpost to sit on the mineable permafrost, while utilizing solar arrays from above to stay powered from the perpetual sunlight.

The researcher's mention Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin's moon landing vehicle as a potential candidate for this technology. Ice serves as a valuable resource in space, which can be turned into water or split into hydrogen and oxygen to make fuel propellant. Ice would be mined by a revolutionary technology called RGD mining which "uses a combination of radio frequency, microwave, and infrared radiation to heat permafrost and other types of ice deposits with a depth-controlled heating profile."

The implementation of this technology could lay the foundation for a space infrastructure and economy.

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