NASA Invests in Cryosleep Pods, Interstellar Flight, and More

Monday, 16 May 2016 - 1:48PM
Space
Science News
Mars
Monday, 16 May 2016 - 1:48PM
NASA Invests in Cryosleep Pods, Interstellar Flight, and More
NASA has just selected eight cutting-edge projects to receive Phase II funding from their Innovative Advanced Concepts Program (NIAC), and they run the gamut from cryogenic sleep pods, propulsion methods that could get us outside of our solar system, a growable habitat for long-term spaceflight, and pretty much every currently possible innovation that has the potential to turn science fiction into science fact.



The Phase II projects, which can receive up to $500,000 of funding from NASA, are heavily focused on reaching faraway space destinations, and are just incredibly exciting. They include "Tensegrity Approaches to In-Space Construction of a 1g Growable Habitat," a project to design the structure of a habitat that can be manufactured in space through asteroid mining and other space-bound methods, "Cryogenic Selective Surfaces," a cryogenic "Solar White" coating for spacecraft that could reflect up to 99% of the Sun's light, "Magnetoshell Aerocapture for Manned Missions and Planetary Deep Space Orbiters," an attempt to create a shield made of magnetized plasma to protect Mars-bound spacecraft. (You can see the full list here.)

But one of the most exciting projects is a confirmation that NASA is, indeed, working on cryosleep as a means to reach deep space locations. The project called "Advancing Torpor Inducing Transfer Habitats for Human Stasis to Mars" aims to design "an interplanetary habitat configured to induce deep sleep for astronauts on long-duration missions." It will focus on investigating the feasibility of the technology as well as the effects of long-term hypothermia on the human body, and is explicitly aimed at getting a manned mission to Mars.

Not only could this cryosleep pod get us to Mars, but scientists recently came out and said that torpor is likely the only way that humans will ever achieve interstellar travel. However, the scientists behind the project called "Directed Energy Interstellar Study have different ideas, as they will be using NASA funding to investigate the possibility of using directed energy as a propulsion system that will be capable of reaching the relativistic speeds necessary for interstellar flight. This is obviously somewhat speculative, but the researchers claim that this avenue towards interstellar travel is "difficult, [but] feasible."

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"Whether it's tensegrity habitats in space, new ways to get humans to Mars, delicate photonic propulsion, or any one of the other amazing Phase II studies NIAC is funding, I'm thrilled to welcome these innovations and their innovators back to the program," NIAC program executive Jason Derleth said in a statement. "Hopefully, they will all go on to do what NIAC does best - change the possible."
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NASA Invests in Cryosleep Pods, Interstellar Flight, and More

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