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NASA’s Star Trek-inspired magnetic tractor beam will move satellites in space

Arx Pax thinks big when it comes to magnetic field technology. Not content with only creating the floating Hendo hoverboard, the California startup now is partnering with NASA on magnetic tractor beam technology. The project will use Arx Pax’s hover engine technology and bring it to space where it will capture and move miniature satellites without touching them.

Arx Pax specifically will be working with NASA on its CubeSat project, which are small, lightweight satellites (4 inches square) currently used for research and development purposes in the Earth’s orbit. The micro-satellites will go on their first deep space mission next year when NASA sends the InSight stationary lander to Mars. The satellites will be deployed during a flyby and will be used to provide supplementary communications during InSight’s entry and landing.

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As these micro-satellites become more important to future NASA missions, the space agency will need a way to deploy and move them around in space. This is where Arx Pax’s technology will enter the picture. According to a statement released by the startup, the company will be designing “a device with the ability to attract one object to another from a distance.” In other words, a space-based tractor beam powered by magnets. Just like a scene from Star Trek, Arx Pax’s technology eventually will capture a satellite and drag it into a precise location.

Besides its future NASA project, Arx Pax now is preparing to deliver the first round of its Hendo hoverboard in October 2015. Eleven people spent $10,000 to get the first models to come off the production line. Arx Pax also is working on hover technology that’ll protect buildings from earthquake or flood damage by floating them above the ground. This project envisions a large-scale version of the company’s Magnetic Field Architecture capable of levitating a house. The startup is working with ShakeAlert to develop and early alert system that would allow user to deploy the hover technology before an earthquake hits.