As modern space technology grows ever more complex and sophisticated, its uses become broader and more multifaceted. Throughout the 20th century, humans have been preoccupied with space travel and have invented plenty of strange technologies to help us get there. From most casual ways of satellite uses to powerful interstellar crafts, the space age is undoubtedly upon us. We take a look at some of the most fascinating and bizarre innovations of the previous century.
10 Mind-Boggling Space Technology Inventions
1. The International Station
It sounds like an invention straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but when it comes to space technology, NASA has never been afraid to innovate. Combining American efforts with those of Russia, Japan, Europe, and Canada, the International Space Station was finally launched in 1998. It occupies low Earth orbit and is the largest satellite currently flying around Earth.
2. Robot Rovers
Planetary rovers are some of the most important space exploration technologies and have the capacity to photograph and collect material from other planets. Some are even equipped with life-finding technology to trace living organisms like bacteria or microbes on otherwise uninhabited terrain. This research collected by rovers brings humans closer to answering questions about potential alien life.
Most of us are familiar with GPS and use it in our day-to-day lives in sat-nav and online map technology. However, this idea was decidedly space-age when it was first developed in 1978. GPS, or Global Positioning Devices, can zero in on a person or object’s location from its position in space.
4. Robonaut 2
Artificial intelligence space exploration is no longer a distant dream. Instead, robots and intelligent machines are a major part of current space technology. The hope is that the widespread use of robotics will help humans in environments where it is difficult to survive or stay for long periods. In fact, NASA’s International Space Station already has a robot crew member, Robonaut 2, that helps with repairs on board. Once these robots are paired with AI, there’s no predicting their uses in the field of space technology and space exploration.
5. Grand Tour of the Solar System
Planet hopping is one of the fondest dreams of dedicated sci-fi fans, as well as the scientists and researchers dedicated to making it a reality. In the 1960s, NASA took this dream a step further with the development of Voyager. Although Voyager was meant to be one large craft designed to tour Jupiter and Saturn, budgetary constraints made NASA create two smaller vessels. Voyager 1 and 2 still performed an impressive galaxy tour, however, passing Neptune and Uranus.
When it comes to space travel technology, scientists and astronauts are very aware that they are dealing with uncharted terrain. Therefore, having high-power medical technology onboard that can identify potentially harmful bacteria or microbes on the ship or base is immensely helpful. Scientists are also developing the potential to perform scans, such as MRI, in space.
Nanotechnology refers to the ability to manipulate matter on a molecular level. One of the most divisive areas where this is currently being experimented with is food production and the artificial manipulation of crops. While this may raise questions on Earth, nanotechnology in space exploration could be vital to supply food for astronauts or even grow it on other planets.
8. Moon Suits
The suits worn by the first astronauts landed on the Moon in 1969 were painstakingly designed. They needed to act as protection for human bodies against extreme temperatures and zero-gravity. Engineered by highly skilled teams, the suits were specially designed for movement in dense atmospheric conditions, allowing for maximum sensory awareness.
9. The F-1 Engine
A rocket going to space needs a seriously powerful engine. The F-1 engine was pioneered in the 1950s, during the space race when both Russia and America were desperate to put a man on the Moon. American researchers had the (innovative, yet somewhat bizarre) idea of placing explosives in their F-1 rocket engine to create controlled and powerful vibrations. Their gamble worked, and the Americans achieved lunar landing first.
The day-to-day life of an astronaut on an international space station is a truly fascinating thing to imagine. For example, how do you exchange currency when you live in space? Well, creative minds have come up with an answer to this, too. Astronauts use a currency called QUIDS, which is accepted across space platforms.
The technology used in space exploration adapts continually as we learn more about it. Whether you daydream about other worlds or hope to boldly go where no one has stepped before, this innovative space technology is always fascinating. We hope you enjoyed your ride through the stars!