100 potential US scientific breakthroughs for the next four years

US gov’t spends third year in a row on issue, but advises against everything from colonising Mars to designing a flying car

The quest to find life on other planets has become a big priority for US policy-makers and the international community.

George Washington University is posting a list of 100 potential scientific and technological breakthroughs for the next four years on the website US Policy in Science and Technology: The Future.

“This list challenges current views of the future of innovation in all fields, from space technology to artificial intelligence,” it says. “It is an exciting discussion of what we need to happen to achieve our 21st-century vision of a science and technology policy that is rigorous, rigorous but lively.”

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Secretary of state Mike Pompeo posed for a photograph with the University’s space researcher and history professor Rob Griffith in Washington on Monday.

“My first official photo as secretary of state. With @georgewashington prof @Rob_Griffith, his team at @WashingtonGeo and many others. @USPolicyInScience is shaping the future of U.S. innovation policy and today’s celebration celebrates our team’s commitment to quality policy,” Pompeo tweeted.

The latest list includes:

4. Not building the Space Force but rather raising the National Guard, especially for rocketry and hypersonics, to acquire the skills, experience and funding necessary to compete with China and Russia.

7. Developing the space technology infrastructure and knowledge of the past, present and future in a range of disciplines, including robotics, nanotechnologies, space science, relativity, microgravity, and deep-space engineering.

9. Free space travel, flight, and transport in outer space by harnessing the power of the cosmos to transport all kinds of goods, people and ideas without requiring costly and reliable launch systems, satellites or rockets.

10. Becoming a global leader in developing asteroid mining opportunities to increase our capacity to access space for commerce, military and scientific activities.

41. Changing the policies so that companies can successfully do business to make sure government and university support is reliable and plentiful to enable innovation and entrepreneurship.

67. Creating a practical space transportation system for the commercial space sector by developing robust rocket technologies, building new spacecraft, ramping up research into space electronics and pioneering a light, reliable, long-duration space station in low Earth orbit.

The government’s 2018 budget added to its efforts, with funding for NASA space programmes and future space telescope missions allocated as well as a budget increase for the National Science Foundation and America’s national laboratories.

So far there have been no entries for colonising Mars.

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