Back in May I wrote about the rebirth of the NASA Innovative Advance Concepts (NIAC) program. Today NASA held a press conference to announce the winners. NASA announced all sorts of cool stuff including fantastic science-fiction projects like:
- deflecting space debris using pressure waves in the atmosphere
- fabricating spacecraft using 3D printers
- using metallic hydrogen as a propellent
Now, all of those things are reason enough to celebrate NASA’s re-entry into “innovative advance concepts” research, but what’s got me really excited is that my client Grover Swartzlander is on the list! Back in January Dr. Swartzlander earned a lot of well-deserved attention from the scientific community when he published the discovery of “optical lift” a new method for manipulating objects using light. Optical lift has the potential to revolutionize micro- and nano-manipulation of objects in much the same way that the discovery of optical tweezers did forty years ago. On a larger scale, though, Dr. Swartzlander posited that the same principles might apply to steering and stabilizing enormous structures, such as solar sails. NASA agreed that the concept has the potential to solve a number of technical challenges faced by solar sails and granted him a Phase I NIAC fellowship. I need to let the dust settle, but you can expect a full “Cool Tech” article on this soon!