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Prototypes of space equipment in development.

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The future of space

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    1. The fate of space

    2. A still image taken from a video rendering shows phased arrays of lasers which could be used on Breakthrough Starshot, a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled spacecrafts.

    3. NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) 70-metric-ton configuration, NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, designed to fly astronauts to the moon, asteroids and eventually to Mars, is seen launching to space in this undated artist's rendering released August 2, 2014. REUTERS/NASA/MSFC/Handout

    4. A still image taken from a video rendering shows a nanocraft which could be used on Breakthrough Starshot, a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled spacecrafts. REUTERS/Breakthrough Initiatives/Handout via Reuters

    5. The reusable main-stage booster from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket makes a successful landing on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean about 185 miles (300 km) off the coast of Florida April 8, 2016. REUTERS/SpaceX/Handout via Reuters

    6. A still image taken from a video rendering shows phased arrays of lasers which could be used on Breakthrough Starshot, a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled spacecrafts. REUTERS/Breakthrough Initiatives/Handout via Reuters

    7. An undated artist's concept shows the test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD), a helium balloon carrying an experimental saucer-shaped NASA spacecraft designed to test landing technologies for future Mars missions. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout

    8. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) expandable space habitat technology is displayed during a media briefing in Las Vegas January 16, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Bill Ingalls/Handout

    9. People take pictures as the SLS five-segment Solid Rocket Motor, part of NASA's deep-space launcher project, undergoes a static test fire at the Orbital ATK facility in Promontory, Utah March 11, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

    10. A prototype of a free-flying space robot equipped with a smartphone, known as Smart SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites), is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of NASA. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

    11. The Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser flight vehicle, a privately owned prototype space plane, is readied for 60 mph tow tests at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, August 2, 2013. REUTERS/NASA/Ken Ulbrich/Handout

    12. The Sunshield test unit to be used on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is stacked and expanded at a cleanroom in the Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California. The Sunshield separates the observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold side where the sunshine is blocked from interfering with the sensitive infrared instruments. REUTERS/NASA/Chris Gunn/Handout

    13. Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft mothership, which landed safely after splitting from SpaceShipTwo, is seen in a hangar at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

    14. NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Ricky Arnold step into the Orion crew module hatch during a series of spacesuit check tests conducted at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on June 13, 2013. The Orion crew module will serve as both transport and a home to astronauts during future long-duration missions to an asteroid, Mars and other destinations throughout our solar system.

    15. NASA's new Earth-bound rover, GROVER, which stands for both Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research, in Summit Camp, the highest spot in Greenland, is shown in this May 10, 2013 release. GROVER is an autonomous, solar-operated robot that carries a ground-penetrating radar to examine the layers of Greenland's ice sheet.

    16. The unmanned SpaceX Crew Dragon lifts off from launch pad 40 during a Pad Abort Test at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida May 6, 2015. REUTERS/Scott Audette

    17. In this artist's concept, the Cassini spacecraft makes a close pass by Saturn's moon Enceladus to study plumes from geysers that erupt from giant fissures in the moon's southern polar region. REUTERS/NASA/Karl Kofoed

    18. Chirold Epp (in blue shirt), Johnson Space Center Project Manager for ALHAT, speaks to members of the media while showing off the Morpheus prototype lander, part of the Lunar Catalyst program to develop lunar landers, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, August 1, 2012. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

    19. NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft is pictured orbiting near the surface of the moon, in this artist's illustration released August 15, 2013. REUTERS/Dana Berry/NASA Ames/Handout

    20. Technicians work on the heat shield of NASA's Orion space capsule at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, in this undated handout photo. Measuring 16.5 feet in diameter, the heat shield is made from a single seamless piece of Avcoat ablator. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

    21. The X-51A Waverider, an unmanned aircraft that could reach speeds up to 3,600 mph, in flight. REUTERS/US Air Force

    22. A SpaceX upgraded Falcon 9 rocket undergoes launch preparations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California September 27, 2013. REUTERS/Gene Blevins

    23. A 1.79 percent scale model of a future concept supersonic aircraft built by Boeing. REUTERS/Quentin Schwinn/NASA

    24. Volker Maiwald (L), executive officer and habitat engineer and Hans van Ot Woud, a mapping researcher and the health and safety officer of Crew 125 EuroMoonMars B mission, return to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) outside Hanksville in the Utah desert, March 3, 2013.

    25. Robonaut 2 is shown in the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory during a round of testing for the first humanoid robot in space, January 2, 2013. Robonaut is a testbed for exploring new robotic capabilities in space, and its form and dexterity allow it to use the same tools and control panels as its human counterparts do aboard the station. REUTER/NASA/Handout

    26. An artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft approaching Mars. The Curiosity rover is safely tucked inside the spacecraft's aeroshell. REUTERS/ NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout

    27. The Boeing X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle, an unmanned reusable spacecraft. REUTERS/NASA

    28. Physicist Daniel Schildhammer wears the Aouda.X spacesuit simulator during a field test of Oesterreichisches Weltraum Forum (Austrian space forum) inside the Eisriesenhoehle (giant ice cave) at Dachstein mountain near the village of Obertraun April 28, 2012. The Aouda.

    29. A computer-generated image of the Atrium aircraft, which will enable space tourists to experience weightlessness while carrying passengers briefly outside the earth's atmosphere. REUTERS/EADS Atrium/Marc Newson Ltd/NASA

    30. Argentine aerospace engineer Pablo de Leon, a NASA team member, collects samples as he tests a space suit designed for possible use in Mars at Argentina's Marambio base in Antarctica, March 13, 2011. The NDX-1 space suit, designed by De Leon, endured frigid temperatures and winds of more than 47 mph (75 kph) as researchers tried out techniques for collecting soil samples on Mars.