his image depicts what astronauts may someday use to return from orbit
(Image: NASA)

NASA heli-capsule could let astronauts land anywhere

By Will Shanklin

October 26, 2012

Space exploration once captured the world’s imagination. In the 1960s and 1970s, children dreamed of satellites, lunar rovers, and walking on the moon. Today – decades after Sputnik, Neil Armstrong, and the Apollo missions – many children may not even know what a space capsule is.

Some of those children from the Space Race years, though, grew up to work at NASA. Public indifference be damned, those engineers are still dreaming of new ways of improving the wondrous technologies of yesteryear. If they have their way, one of the iconic symbols of that era – the space capsule – may have an upgrade on the horizon.

Researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are testing a rotor system that would let space capsules fly like helicopters. Originally proposed during the Apollo days, the idea had been abandoned in favor of easier (and cheaper) parachutes. The downside of parachutes, though, is that they require a water landing. So, today’s NASA is reinvestigating.

Read more: NASA heli-capsule could let astronauts land anywhere — gizmag.

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