A system that would use magnetic fields to ease a spacecraft into orbit after an interplanetary journey has won a $500,000 grant from NASA’s advanced research program for MSNW, a company based in Redmond. Wash.
The money for MSNW is one of eight Phase II awards made through the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program, also known as NIAC. Other projects look into such way-out ideas as suspended animation, beamed energy for interstellar travel and a satellite-airplane hybrid that could stay up in the air for months at a time.
MSNW’s magnetoshell aerocapture system is designed to take advantage of aerodynamic drag as well as magnetized plasma to slow a spacecraft down and as it dips through a planet’s atmosphere.