Mobile
News
4/17/2013
04:35 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

NASA Funds Propulsion System For Asteroid Mission

Space Technology group looking at solar sails, asteroid capture among initial assignments

11 Cool Tools NASA Curiosity Brought To Mars
11 Cool Tools NASA Curiosity Brought To Mars
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is working on a variety of propulsion systems for for exploring space, including the agency's ambitious plan to retrieve and mine an asteroid.

Michael Gazarik, associate administrator of the Space Technology Mission Directorate, on Tuesday provided an overview of the group's areas of investment for fiscal 2014. The directorate's proposed budget for fiscal 2014 is $743 million, a 24% increase over the current fiscal year. NASA administrator Charles Bolden announced the formation of the Space Technology Mission Directorate in February. The directorate was spun off from NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist, where it existed as a program since 2010.

The directorate's mandate is to be a catalyst for new technologies needed to support the space agency's missions. Topping the list for fiscal 2014 is a solar electric propulsion system for NASA's asteroid mining mission, scheduled to happen by 2025.

[ Uncle Sam needs your apps. Read NASA Launches Next Space Apps Challenge. ]

That mission will combine the existing capabilities of the Orion crew capsule and Space Launch System (SLS) with to-be-developed technologies, including solar electric propulsion and laser communications. Solar electric propulsion is needed to generate the high level of thrust required to capture and redirect an asteroid.

The directorate also plans to demonstrate what it describes as the world's largest solar sail, which could be unfurled in space and used in a variety of ways. "When stored, it's the size of a dishwasher," Gazarik said. "When unfurled, it's more than 100 feet [long] on one side." NASA hopes to demonstrate the sail in late 2014 or early 2015.

Other directorate projects planned for fiscal 2014 are development of robotic technologies, advanced manufacturing -- including in-space manufacturing -- and a supersonic parachute for a future Mars mission. The directorate works with NASA centers, businesses, and universities to develop new technologies.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Tom LaSusa
50%
50%
Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/18/2013 | 1:33:04 PM
re: NASA Funds Propulsion System For Asteroid Mission
Glad to see this moving ahead.
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 18, 2014
Enterprise social network success starts and ends with integration. Here's how to finally make collaboration click.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
The weekly wrap-up of the top stories from InformationWeek.com this week.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.