NASA Backs Advanced Space Concepts

Second Skin From 1998 to 2007, the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) funded further study of a number of revolutionary concepts that could someday have a significant impact on space exploration. Ideas like a space elevator for cheap access to orbit, anti-matter propulsion systems that put our neighboring stars within reach, and next-generation spacesuits that look and wear more like bodysuits—these concepts and many others found a home at NIAC. Budget constraints closed the institute two years ago, but now NIAC is making science headlines again thanks to a report released last week by the National Research Council urging NASA to revive it. Space SlingIn 2004, The Futures Channel began conducting interviews with NIAC researchers and visionaries, sharing these short documentaries with the education community. Since then, hundreds of thousands of students have viewed the Futures Channel's NIAC movies in their math and science classes. The movies’ popularity extended beyond just educators as scientists and space enthusiasts also visited our web site to view them. And they continue to attract viewers not only from the US but from around the world. Flying on MarsDid the work of NIAC help to inspire our future work force? Did it stimulate creative ideas and foster excitement about what might actually be possible? We think so. But take a look and decide for yourself. Below are some of the programs we've produced about NIAC supported projects.  

NIAC Movies

The Starshade Is there life on planets in other star systems? It's a very old question. But finding the answer may get simpler with a new invention by astrophysicist, professor and inventor Webster Cash. Running time 5:55 minutes.
Flying On Mars To fly around on the surface of Mars, a traditional aircraft would need to travel at speeds of over 250 MPH just to stay aloft in the very thin atmosphere. Taking off and landing on the rocky terrain for sample inspection and gathering would be nearly impossible. So what’s one solution? Check this out. Running time 2:32 minutes.
The Space Sling It's been described as "using the techniques of Tarzan" to move things through outer space. It's reusable and would dramatically reduce the cost of space missions. Scientists are working on it, NASA is funding it and The Futures Channel has been following it for the last two years. Want to help your students get in on the ground floor? Take five minutes to watch the movie and check out the Critical Thinking exercises below! Running time 5:19 minutes.
Second Skin Capability With support from the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, MIT professor Dava Newman is designing a "second skin" spacesuit for exploring the Moon, Mars and beyond. Check it out. Running time 4:30 minutes.
Revisiting The Moon Evidence suggests there may be deposits of ice within craters at the poles of the moon. If this proves to be the case, Planetary Scientist Dr. Paul Spudis says it could possibly be “the most valuable piece of real estate in the solar system.” Find out why. Running time 6:16 minutes.
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