NASA taps hoverboard maker for satellite “tractor beam”

Arx Pax’s magnetic field technology to help create magnetic coupling system for micro-satellite capture.

0 September 3, 2015
by Design Engineering staff

15-Sept-arx-pax-nasa-hover-engine-625Los Gatos, California-based hover engine technology company, Arx Pax – primarily known for its Hendo Hoverboard debuted last year — announced that it has entered into a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA. Under the terms of the SAA, the U.S. space agency will employ Arx Pax’s Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA) in a device capable of magnetically tethering micro-satellites in space.

Although the company stops short of using the term “tractor beam,” the proposed device would essentially capture and hold the shoebox-sized satellites at a fixed distance from a larger craft without making physical contact.

“We continue to place a firm emphasis on innovation and collaboration,” said Luke Murchison, On-Orbit Autonomous Assembly from Nanosatellites Project Manager, NASA Langley Research Center. “We’re confident and excited about the possibilities this agreement proposes.”

According to Arx Pax, the company will work with NASA engineers to design a device that can both attract and repel micro-satellites at a distance and won’t allow them to move away or toward the capture device. This will enable the capability to capture and possibly manipulate micro-satellites or other objects without making physical contact with them.

“Our collaboration marks a significant milestone for Arx Pax,” said Greg Henderson, co-founder and CEO at Arx Pax. “It’s exciting to work hand-in-hand with NASA’s brilliant team of scientists and engineers. We’re thrilled about the potential impact we can make together.”

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