Artificially intelligent rockets could perform self-diagnostics and self-repairs, lowering the cost of future space launches. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency is working on an intelligent rocket to supplement its current lift vehicle, and it would be cheaper and simpler to use, engineers say.
XSS-11 is an experimental Air Force technology demonstrator designed to track other satellites. Controllers simply tell the spacecraft where to look for a piece of orbiting hardwareanother U.S. satellite, for instanceand the XSS-11 autonomously plots a course, accelerates to the object, and begins to orbit and observe. It's the first step toward automatic satellite inspection and repair.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.