NIAC Archive

MarsBeginner orbital tether for Phobos

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A sensor package that “floats” just above the surface of Phobos, suspended by a tether from a small spacecraft operating at the Mars/Phobos Lagrange 1 (L1) Point would offer exciting opportunities for science (SMD), for human exploration (HEOMD) and for …

futureSolar Surfing with coating that will reflect up to 99.9 % of solar radiance

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Robert Youngquist, NASA Kennedy Space Center, proposes to develop a novel high temperature coating that will reflect up to 99.9 % of the Sun’s total irradiance, roughly a factor of 80 times better than the current state-of-the-art. This will be …

energyContinuous Electrode Inertial Electrostatic Confinement Fusion

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NASA recognizes within its roadmaps (specifically TA 3.1.6) that development of aneutronic fusion (such as p-11B) reactors with direct energy conversion (over 80%) would be an enabling technology to achieve low specific mass (kg / kW) through the elimination of …

asteroidsMicrowave-Sintered heat shields for low cost capture into earth orbit asteroids

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The two fundamental prerequisites for large-scale economic use of space resources are: 1. in-space manufacture of propellants from nonterrestrial bodies, and 2. in-space manufacture of heat shields for low-cost capture of materials into Earth orbit. The former has been the …

nasaImploding Liner Fusion Propulsion System

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NASA advanced innovative concepts has funded Michael LaPointe, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center to develop a fusion propulsion system. It is an innovative modification to magneto-inertial fusion is proposed in which the pulsed, high current magnetic field coil and stationary …

futureVacuum airship would work in thin atmosphere of Mars

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Researchers propose to overcome some of the limitations of current technologies for Mars exploration and even extend current operational capabilities by introducing the concept of a vacuum airship. This concept is similar to a standard balloon, whereas a balloon uses …

energyFusion-Enabled Pluto Orbiter and Lander

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The Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) concept provides game-changing propulsion and power capabilities that would revolutionize interplanetary travel. DFD is based on the Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration (PFRC) fusion reactor under development at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The mission context we …

futureNASA NIAC second phase funding for thin film 4000 ISP Branecraft

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This effort will further develop the active membrane spacecraft concept called “Brane Craft” initially studied in a NIAC Phase I grant. The Brane Craft is an essentially two-dimensional spacecraft with integrated solar cells, power system, communications, command and control, attitude …

energyNASA Concept to use 100 MW beamed power for ion drive that is 20 times better

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John Brophy at NASA Jet propulsion laboratory combines a near term 100 megawatt laser beamed power system to enable an ion drive with 70 megawatts of power and 58000 ISP. They propose a new power/propulsion architecture to enable missions such …

futureNASA advanced innovations funds 22 new visionary space concepts

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NASA is preparing for a future that could include soft robotic spacecraft with flexible surfaces that can anchor to an asteroid, and an artificial gravity device for long-duration, deep space missions, along with other technologies that so far has been …