For turning matter into fuel.
The MX-1 spacecraft weighs 1,300 pounds fully loaded, fits in the back of a pickup truck, looks like a metallic inner tube, and, in 2015, is going to the moon, "hitchhiking" alongside a satellite headed into orbit. Bob Richards's goal is twofold: to mine precious lunar minerals and to power the MX-1's return home by converting ice on the moon into hydrogen peroxide. Richards, whose project is backed by NASA, sees water as the oil to power space exploration. "We're after our first gusher," he says.
[Illustration by Aron Filkey]