JPL/NASA COMET HITCHHIKER

This is a concept I created with Dr. Masahiro Ono from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the NIAC Symposium in 2015, in cooperation with the Museum of Science Fiction. It’s a spacecraft that can fire a 1000km (around 620 miles) long tether with a warhead into a comet (a Kuiper Belt Object) and use it’s kinetic energy to travel into deep space.

 

I spent much time building both hitchhiker and comet and I learned alot about spacecrafts and how they are designed. My goal was to create something between the highly complex prototype-like designs that these incredible smart people at the JPL are building and my own taste of science fiction. I tried somehow to extend the NASA look that I’m used to, into a future driven by 3d printed objects and tools. More here: NASA

 

On the 3D side

It needed time getting used to the fact that there is not much surface that would bounce light around for me, like it would on earth – Global Illumination was more a task than a helper. The design of the spacecraft is mostly built with subdivision surface modelling in Cinema 4D and rendered with Vray. The comet was hand sculpted in zBrush and has 9 million polygons.

 

CREDITS

Concept - Masahiro Ono
Client - JPL / NASA

 
 
 
This idea can be intuitively understood by the analogy of fishing. Imagine a fisherman on a small boat tries to catch a big fish that runs at a high relative speed,” he added. “Once the fish is on a hook, the experienced fisherman would let the line go while applying a moderate tension on it, instead of holding it tightly. If the line has a sufficient length, the boat can eventually catch up with the fish with moderate acceleration.
— Masahiro Ono @ Motherboard