Nasa and the European Space Agency have some ambitious plans. But if manned missions to Mars, super-thin spacesuits and shoebox-sized shuttles become a reality, then nanotechnology will undoubtedly have played a key role
|Existing multi-tonne spacecraft may one day be swapped for shoebox-sized craft weighing just 2kg-5kg as developments in nanotechnology progress. |
Photograph: NASA/Getty Images North America
Launching equipment into space is an expensive business: it costs $10,000 (£6,300) to lift every 0.45kg (1lb) of stuff into orbit. Making things smaller and lighter is, therefore, a natural route to reducing the cost of launching a spacecraft. It is no surprise then that the principles of nanotechnology – and the potential to reduce the mass and size of spacecraft and payloads – are focusing the minds of space engineers.