Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Innovations for Space Flight

I just saw a slideshow on FoxNews' Tech link focusing on 10 new innovations for future space flight.  Some are pretty much what you'd expect.  There's a slide for a new Mars rover, discussion of what kind of transport vehicle will replace the space shuttle, exercise equipment for astronauts and other things that I've been hearing about for a couple of years now.  But then there are a few that I haven't heard about as much.

Examples:  Nantennaes.  Billions of tiny antennae on the wings of unmanned aerial vehicles that would help provide electricity and power for an engine.  While this sounds like a high-tech version of solar panels, the technology is much more advanced and worthy of note to science fiction writers.

A robot motor that could operate in extreme heat, like on Venus.  Again, while not necessarily something people haven't heard of before in sci-fi, it's still interesting to know that there is currently such a device that could operate in temps allegedly up to 932 degrees.  According to the article, the nearest competitors can only withstand half that temperature.  This is a good example of how sometimes tech takes a massive leap forward before returning to incremental advances.

Whoever came up with this one must have been a 7 of 9 fan.  Skin tight space suits.  Apparently this type of attire helps to reduce the bone loss for astronauts in space for extended periods by simulating the effects of gravity.  When you think of the fact that astronauts going to the ISS often spend months there and considering a recent post I made regarding an article on a manned trip to Mars.  A one-way trip would take months - almost a year IIRC, this is an important development.

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