Meyya Meyyappan is the director of the Center for Nanotechnology at NASA Ames Research Center. In this video interview with Physics World, Meyyappan explains why NASA is placing so much faith in nanotechnology for the future of its space-exploration programme. Among the themes discussed, Meyyappan describes the imperative for space devices to be as light as possible, and the need for speculative science to adapt to the project-driven focus of NASA missions.