NASA: Tiny craft could help with space missions
NASA says it is working on a small craft that could be used to launch payloads into deep space.
The agency is exploring how small, light, and maneuverable a spacecraft could be.
[NASA’s Small Vehicle Concepts Revealed: Part I] Read moreNASA has been developing small spacecraft for years, including the smaller-than-a-bicycle-size CubeSats, which were launched on the Space Shuttle in 2007.
But NASA says its small spacecraft could revolutionize spaceflight and could help NASA’s exploration of the solar system and beyond.NASA is exploring the use of a tiny craft called the Small Vehicle Concept for launching payloads from deep space, according to a NASA press release.
The Small Vehicle concept, which NASA calls a “piloted vehicle,” has been under development for years.
It has two components: a payload that could carry a satellite or an inflatable spacecraft, and a small motorized drive.
NASA says the small vehicle is “built around a motor driven by a battery pack to propel it through a predetermined path.”
The payload could be as small as a suitcase, NASA says.
NASA envisions the vehicle delivering a satellite in the shape of a tennis ball, for example, or a payload of a couple of kilograms in the form of a football.
The payload would be placed in a predetermined orbit.
The small vehicle could be launched from the launch pad or the ground.
The vehicle could then dock with a space station.NASA envisions that the Small Unit could be a lightweight, low-cost, reusable spacecraft that could serve as the backbone of a future fleet of small space stations.
In addition to providing a launching platform for future missions, the Small Variable Unit would be a critical component for the future development of space infrastructure, such as satellites and docking ports, NASA said.