NASA to launch spacecraft designed with artificial intelligence


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Inspenet, February 23, 2023

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA for its acronym in English, will launch spacecraft made with components entirely designed with artificial intelligence. The innovative technology of the North American agency designs and manufactures spaceship parts using the same generative AI technology that ChatGPT, Dall-e or MusicLM use to create text, images and music based on human indications.

The engineer who started the project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, was inspired by various science fiction series.

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“It happened during the pandemic. I had a lot of free time and watched shows like The Expanse,” Ryan McClelland recounted. “They have these huge structures in space and it made me think…we’re not going to get there the way we’re doing things now.” The Space Station costs a hundred billion dollars and has six people inside, he points out, so if humanity wants a future where there are thousands of people in space, we have to do something different. McClelland thought then that perhaps generative AI could have part of the answer to this great challenge.

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Generative AI has been used in the design of mechanical and architectural components for a long time. Multiple developers, from traditional computer-aided design (CAD) software companies like Autodesk to startups like Ntopology, have been selling programs to do this for a few years. There are even startups, like Divergent3D, whose business model relies entirely on generative AI design and manufacturing to create things like the rear frame of Aston Martin’s DBR22. The company told us that it had reduced the weight of that part by 40% and, furthermore, surpassed traditionally designed parts in its performance in the event of a collision.

These parts work better and are more efficient than more traditionally created parts, saving a third of the weight, but achieving the same performance values or exceeding the specifications of human designed parts.