NASA taps hoverboard company Arx Pax to build space ‘tractor beam’

THE company that made Marty McFly’s hoverboard a reality is reaching for the stars, or more precisely, satellites.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Arx Pax has entered into a Space Act Agreement with NASA, the company announced Wednesday.

The partnership involves Arx Pax’s Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA) technology, which will be used to build micro-satellite capture devices that can manipulate and couple satellites from a distance.

The technology inevitably conjures up images of the tractor beam used on “Star Trek.”

“Likely uses for this technology include manipulating various types of objects at a distance without touching them or colliding with them,” explained Arx Pax CEO Greg Henderson, in an email to

“One example could be moving an object, like a satellite, or holding it stationary without physical contact.”

However, specific details of the technology’s road map have not yet been revealed.

“The collaboration is evolving and the project is a work in process,” explained Henderson, in the email.

“We will share more information as we hit specific joint development milestones.”

“We continue to place a firm emphasis on innovation and collaboration” said Luke Murchison, On-Orbit Autonomous Assembly from Nanosatellites Project Manager at NASA Langley Research Center, in a statement.

“We’re confident and excited about the possibilities this agreement proposes.”

The partnership’s focus on micro-satellites may reflect the growing role played by cubesats in the space industry.

NASA, for example, recently announced its plan to offer more rocket rides for cubesats, which are tiny, box-shaped satellites.

Arx Pax’s MFA technology, which provides magnetic elevation, has certainly been generating plenty of buzz.

In addition to the hoverboard developed by its Hendo Hover subsidiary, Arx Pax has been touting MFA as a way to protect people and structures in natural disasters such as earthquakes. The company has been testing what it describes as “isolation of structures from unwanted movement” and has patented a three-part foundation system, which it says will “decouple” an object or building from the earth before disaster strikes.