By Rena Marie Pacella
Posted 12.17.2010 at 11:59 am 49 Comments
In April, President Obama urged NASA to come up with, among other things, a less expensive method than conventional rocketry for launching spacecraft. By September, the agency’s engineers floated a plan that would save millions of dollars in propellant, improve astronaut safety, and allow for more frequent flights. All it will take is two miles of train track, an airplane that can fly at 10 times the speed of sound, and a jolt of electricity big enough to light a small town.
With the Space Shuttle program winding down, both NASA and several commercial ventures are developing next-gen rocket technology that will hurl the next iteration of space vehicles into the sky. But NASA acknowledges that rockets aren’t the only – or even the best – way to get into space.
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.