NASA and MyMoon have teamed up to blog about everything lunar. Art, literature, music, movies, science, and everything in between!
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I just wanted to do a short blurb with some interesting things you can take a look at that will likely be implimented on future space exploration projects outside LEO... they all have links at the bottom of the sections; some you might have seen, some might blow your mind, all should be fairly commonplace at the Virgin Playboy Space Hotel and Casino .... someday.
1) solar powered 3d printer array
This little beauty uses sand and sun to produce a variety of tempered glass 3d objects. While still in its infancy 3d printing technology lends itself to solving a wide range of problems. Instead of having to pack various items, a quantity of silicate could be provided and one of these units, then astronauts can craft what they need as they need it. But this technology doesnt stop with providing nearly every solid item for almost the price of dirt, other advanced 3D printers can also be used to produce everything from a steak to a kidney. Eventually, I predict, that most spaceflights will be very light on actual supplies (except emergency rations, for example) but the ships will be filled with raw materials and a variety of 3D printers .... earl grey, hot, anyone ? ;)
2) nuclear powered spacecraft
While nuclear power systems have been employed since the days of Voyager 1, they have not been used very much on manned missions. Current technology employed on aircraft carriers is a great example of this potential though. It seems with the adoption of the nuclear test ban treaty for space nearly ALL nuclear research ceased, but nuclear systems still provide a viable, efficent, long term solution to advanced power systems. I expect that these sorts of systems will become the standard on space stations and spacecraft in the future. Although another technology, the BLOOM BOX may also be useful as a source of interstellar power. Project Orion in the 1950s and 60s was a design for a craft that used nuclear explosions as a means to locomote... while the sense of holding off for a while on full scale applications was obvious, it seems to have also steifeled the overall idea that nuclear power has any future in space exploration... that in spite of the fact that many deep space probes and robots are already thusly powered and have been for decades. The lack of any such implementation for manned missions has caused vessels, like the space shuttle, or soyuz – to have very limited timelines for operations.
3) Recon Integration
Recon Instruments is a Canadian company that makes advanced digital helmets here on Earth, but in the future I think that Augmented Reality will become a very common part of space operations. Through the use of this technology a blank wall can become a dynamic tablet, a work area, a white board for doodling, anything really. This allows for a great reduction in the amount of computer hardware required for nominal operations and allows for much greater integration during EVA or work being performed in seperate nodes.
4) micro-robotic exploration
as we see with the Google Lunar X Prize, small robots built on shoestring budgets are indeed practical. As technology gets cheaper and innovation gets more innovative expect a host of small satellites and robots which have long term applications and which can be remotely controlled from earth.Even in earthly applications we see more and more the introduction of effective drones. Eventually there is no reason why there couldn't be 1000 robots roving about the lunar surface recording every detail they stumble upon, and these could be controlled from classrooms or by individuals back on the earth, for example
5) GMO slaves
Of course the debate and moral questions around human cloning are far from settled, but already we are rushing ahead to fully manipulate everything else we can. Soon we will be able to design bacteria that can do pretty much anything we want (back to 3D printing?). Need to transform some bananna peels into fuel ? We can make something for that ! Need to convert urine into electricity ? Put some XJ492-A into it and give it about an hour. This sort of talk is well within our grasp, in fact fossil fuel companies are some of the strongest supporters of this advanced research, they hope to use such microbes to enable or speed up the natural processes of fermentation, etc for the production of ethanol from plant mash...
Interesting days indeed, I will post 5 more soon. In the mean time, why not share neat technology you know about that you think will be employed regularly in space bases, stations and craft of the future :)
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