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Magnetoshell gets in on NASA’s way-out funding

Image: Magnetoshell aerocapture concept
MSNW’s magnetoshell aerocapture concept could help ease spaceships into orbit. (Credit: MSNW)

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.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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