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Emerging technologies for space exploration

Two emerging technologies may propel NASA and the rest of the world into an era of faster, low-cost exploration that would lead to more exploration and democratise access to the Solar System.

  • A new generation of companies is developing new rockets for small satellites. Rocket Lab has a lunar program for its small Electron rocket, and Virgin Orbit with a group of Polish universities is to launch up to three missions to Mars with its LauncherOne vehicle.
  • At the same time, various components of satellites are being miniaturised.
  • Tiny satellites are no longer theoretical. Two years ago, a pair of CubeSats, called MarCO-A and MarCO-B, launched with the InSight mission. The briefcase-sized satellites deployed their own solar arrays and journeyed to Mars.

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