8 Real NASA Projects Straight Out of Science Fiction

While we might be quick to whine about our lack of flying cars, hoverboards, lightsabers, time machines, teleporters, self-tying sneakers, personal robot servants, jet packs, and people walking around with three boobs, we have to admit NASA has actually been science-fictioning things up over the last few years. How so?

#8. Morpheus Can Land Like a UFO

Anything stereotypically UFO-like in the history of NASA inventions has been shat on and cooked alive by the underside exhaust flames of NASA's latest "Shit, is that a real UFO?" achievement: Project Morpheus.

"We came up with the idea after chili day at the cafeteria."

Project Morpheus is an unmanned prototype lander capable of vertically landing in darkness on rugged terrain, thanks to its Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology, which is presumably named after the prolific Dr. Alhat.


Composed of giant steel balls and an underside from which flames are farted, Project Morpheus is expected to trailblaze future lunar, planetary, and asteroid missions, assuming we ever figure out how to fund said missions in the first place. Morpheus has come a long way since its first prototypes; at least now it can land without tipping over and bursting into flames like its 2012 iteration.

#7. A Submarine Designed for a Frozen Methane Moon

NASA recently approved research funding for a dozen of their wackiest ideas, most of which were probably written during daily NASA weed walks inside the Vomit Comet. Among the winners is a submarine designed to explore Titan's hydrocarbon lakes. Titan, in case you've forgotten, is one of Saturn's moons. It boasts a temperature of minus 290 F, so the sub won't include a drawer for Bermuda shorts if the design ever takes off.

James Cameron heard the term "space submarine" and passed out from the ensuing erection.

And what will this hypothetical space sub be diving into? Just a liquid, methane-filled lake called Kraken Mare. For real. As if the prospect of submerging a contraption on a gassy space planet isn't horrifying enough, scientists went through the trouble of naming Titan's lake after a sea monster. Don't worry, though. If everything goes as planned, we won't be reading the inevitable headlines about Titan's fish people using our own technology to impregnate the Earth itself until 2040.

#6. The Orion Crew Module

If you ever wondered why NASA hasn't made classier ways of sending its astronauts out into the great deep perennial maw of space, then this will finally put you at peace: Meet NASA's Orion crew module, which looks like what would happen if you gave Apple enough money to move into commercial spaceships.

NASA/Rad Sinyak
It also helps NASA security spot shoplifters.

The shiny-assed underside of the Orion is actually the heat shield that's attached to the bottom of the Orion itself, which, disappointingly, took the retro NASA route. Putting them together will be like Nicki Minaj hooking up with Cary Grant.

Ken Kremer
"Hey, at least we took the wood side paneling off this one."

The Orion is expected to have its first test flight in December 2014, with the eventual goal of carrying humans to a place where a 1960s rocket and a futuristic shiny foil capsule can live together in harmony without everyone judging them for their love.

#5. This New Spacesuit Is a Cross Between Tron and Buzz Lightyear

Never ones to consider themselves immune from viral social-media pandering, NASA recently held an online contest allowing the public to vote on the next spacesuit. There were three choices -- known as "Biomimicry," "Technology," and "Trends in Society."

"We were also supposed to have a contest for the suit names but instead just phoned that shit in."

Two months later, NASA revealed that the "Technology" suit had beat the other two, because all else being equal, glowing things will always beat non-glowing things.

"We originally wanted it to light up your junk whenever you posed like this."

This suit won't actually ever make it off Earth -- it's just the second in a series of prototypes that NASA plans to test and configure until they figure out something good enough to help humans survive on the Red Planet. With any luck, subsequent versions will not have the part of the suit that makes our astronauts look like they're wearing jorts to space.

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