The European Space Agency made news on Wednesday with the successful – although bumpy – landing of its Philae probe on Comet 67P. In honor of these scientists’ exploratory missions and science-fiction ambitions, we’ve put together a list of patents that have helped mankind in its quest to expand into the galactic, final frontier.
1) Spacecraft Attitude and Velocity Control Thruster System
This duel-thruster system is ideally for rockets that are “concerned with the launch, insertion and maintenance of satellites in geosynchronous orbits.” The thrusters work together to maintain attitude and velocity of the spacecraft, as well as share and convert fuel to make the mission — whatever it may be — simpler and less expensive.
2) Propellant Depots in Space
Propellant depots are like the pit-crew for a race-car driver, but in space. Located in strategic positions in low Earth orbit and the lunar atmosphere, the depot systems assist with transportation for rockets and other orbiting satellites, and provide fuel as well.
3) Mobile Space Suit
Ah yes, the space suit — part terrifying, part awesome. As this patent claims, the space suit is an improvement on the standard aviation suit, made to withstand the pressures of higher altitudes, no gravity, and alien invasions. As many sci-fi movies have taught us, the space suit is an astronaut’s best friend/lifeline, so it’s important that it is in top condition.
4) Planet Kidnapping System
This is probably the most ambitious ‘manifest destiny’ idea in existence. This Chinese patent suggests using lasers to push or pull certain asteroids, moons or planets into a different orbit so as to recreate the requirements needed for human survival on said planet. The universe has a certain balance to maintain… is this ethical for survival?
This is not the earliest patent in existence for the telescope; that belongs to Hans Lippershey, who applied for a patent in 1608. Telescopes are an important part of space history, as they have aided the curiosity of inventors and astronomers alike from Galileo to Hubble. It’s amazing how a simple idea of constructing different lenses together allows us to look up at the stars and wonder what is out there in the universe.