Launching equip­ment into space is an expen­sive busi­ness: it costs $10,000 (£6,300) to lift every 0.45kg (1lb) of stuff into orbit. Making things smaller and lighter is, there­fore, a nat­ural route to reducing the cost of launching a space­craft. It is no sur­prise then that the prin­ci­ples of nan­otech­nology – and the poten­tial to reduce the mass and size of space­craft and pay­loads – are focusing the minds of space engineers.

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