It seems that interplanetary travel has finally entered the steam age. Scientists at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have teamed up with Honeybee Robotics, a private space and mining tech company based in California, to develop a small, steam-powered spacecraft capable of sucking its fuel right out of the asteroid, planet and moon it is exploring.
Phil Metzger, a UCF space scientist and one of the chief minds behind the steampunk starship, said in a statement– “We could potentially use this technology to hop on the moon, Ceres, Europa, Titan, Pluto, the poles of Mercury, asteroids — anywhere there is water and sufficiently low gravity,” Metzger added to it that such a self-sufficient spacecraft could explore the cosmos “forever.”
By continuously turning extraterrestrial water into steam, this microwave-sized lander could, theoretically, power itself on an indefinite number of planet-hopping missions across the galaxy — so long as it always lands somewhere with H20 for the taking. Love
Metzger and his colleagues call the lander WINE (short for “World Is Not Enough”), and a prototype of the craft recently completed its first test mission on a simulated asteroid surface in California. Using a compact drilling apparatus, the lander successfully mined the fake comet for water, converted that H20 into rocket propellant and launched itself into the air using a set of steam-powered thrusters.