This image shows Mars “Hoppers.” These craft would be capable of self-refueling themselves using resources found on the surface of the Red Planet. Image Credit: NASA / NIAC

ESC Empowers Part 6: Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact

By Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla — Not too many people outside of the space industry know about the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or “NIAC.” Those that criticize the space agency would do well to review the work conducted under this initiative. Put simply, this is the branch of NASA that develops the technology of tomorrow. NIAC is the answer to those who feel that the space agency is too reliant on the technologies and concepts of the past, that NASA is unwilling to research new ways and means to build a better future.

NIAC has existed before its current version. Known at the time as the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, the program ran from 1998 through 2007. Many within the aerospace and scientific communities lamented the closing of this initiative and it was reborn under its new designation in 2010.

The program’s purpose is to develop new ideas that could possibly lead to technology which could benefit NASA’s various directives. In short, the NIAC is in the business of building the future.

Read more: ESC Empowers Part 6: Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact « AmericaSpace.

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