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NASA selects futuristic space concept co-led by Lipton for further study

February 25, 2021

drawing showing a structure emerge from the top of a rocket and expand like origami into a dumbbell-shaped space station

NASA has selected a feasibility study co-led by UW ME assistant professor Jeffrey Lipton and Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor Zachary Manchester as part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. Lipton and Manchester’s project, titled “Kilometer-Scale Space Structures from a Single Launch,” will look closely at whether it’s possible to expand a structure that’s small enough to fit inside a Falcon Heavy rocket fairing all the way up to the size that it could rotate to create artificial gravity without giving its inhabitants motion sickness. The study will rely heavily on recent advances in mechanical metamaterials that have shown the potential to expand to 150 times their compressed size.

See a project description on

Graphic by Tzipora Thompson