MANHASSET, N.Y. -- The U.S. risks losing its lead in space technology unless NASA makes nanotechnology an R&D priority, warns a report by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy..
The study found that the space agency has been cutting funding advanced nanotechnology R&D since 1996 at its research facilities and in its collaboration with universities and laboratories.
Nanotechnology addresses a key engineering consideration for space flight: weight reduction. It could also be used to develop smaller, more accurate sensors, the report stressed.
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From 2004 to 2007, NASA cut annual nanotechnology R&D expenditures from $47 million to $20 million. While U.S. R&D spending remained steady at $65 billion over the past decade, NASA's research budget declined by more than 75 percent to $1.55 billion.
The report found that continuing flat or reduced U.S. R&D spending in key areas like nanotechnology will result in the potential loss of its lead in space exploration to China, Germany, France, Japan and Israel -- all of which are increasing their R&D investments.
Read the report, "NASA's Relationship with Nanotechnology: Past, Present and Future Challenges," here.
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