Honeybee created a prototype and tested it out using simulated asteroid dirt. Kris Zacny, vice president at Honeybee, shared a video of a WINE test on Dec. 31, showing the prototype taking off in a vacuum.
"WINE successfully mined the soil, made rocket propellant and launched itself on a jet of steam extracted from the simulant," Metzger says. He also says the innovation could be used anywhere there is water and low enough gravity, which could include space places like Pluto or Jupiter's moon Europa.
"WINE was designed to never run out of propellant so exploration will be less expensive," Metzger says. "It also allows us to explore in a shorter amount of time, since we don't have to wait for years as a new spacecraft travels from Earth each time."
The WINE team is now looking for partners to help develop the microwave-sized spacecraft.
NASA's wildest rides: Extreme vehicles for Earth and beyond