Matthew Sparkes writes "NASA will likely shut down its Institute for Advanced Concepts, which funds research into futuristic ideas in spaceflight and aeronautics. The move highlights the budget problems the agency is facing as it struggles to retire the space shuttles and develop a replacement. The institute receives $4 million per year from NASA, whose annual budget is $17 billion. Most of that is used to fund research into innovative technologies; recent grants include the conceptual development of spacecraft that could surf the solar system on magnetic fields, motion-sensitive spacesuits that could generate power and tiny, spherical robots that could explore Mars."
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