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Friday 19 September 2014

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NASA today selected Astrobotic Technology Inc. to research breakthroughs in methods to explore lava tubes, caves and recently discovered “skylights” leading down into these features on the Moon and Mars. - Image credit: NASA

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NASA Selects Visionary Advanced Technology Concepts For Study

WASHINGTON, D.C. — NASA has selected 30 proposals for funding under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or NIAC, program. The advanced concepts selected for study under NIAC were chosen based on their potential to transform our future space missions, enable new capabilities or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating space systems.

Each proposal will receive approximately $100,000 for one year to advance the innovative space technology concept and help NASA meet operational and future mission requirements.

“These innovative concepts have the potential to mature into the transformative capabilities NASA needs to improve our current space mission operations, seeding the technology breakthroughs needed for the challenging space missions in NASA’s future,” said the agency’s Chief Technologist Bobby Braun at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Proposals include a broad range of imaginative and creative ideas, such as: changing the course of dangerous orbital debris; a spacesuit that uses flywheels to stabilize and assist astronauts as they work in microgravity; the use of 3-D printing to create a planetary outpost; and multiple innovative propulsion and power concepts needed for future space mission operations.

NASA’s early investment and partnership with creative scientists, engineers and citizen inventors from across the nation will pay huge technological dividends and help maintain America’s leadership in the global technology economy.

NASA solicited visionary, long-term concepts for future technologies for maturation based on their potential value to NASA’s future space missions and operational needs. These first NIAC projects were chosen based on being technically substantiated and very early in development — 10 years or more from mission infusion.

The portfolio of diverse and innovative ideas represented multiple technology areas, including power, propulsion, structures, and avionics, as identified in NASA’s Technology Roadmaps. The roadmaps provide technology paths needed to meet NASA’s strategic goals.

The original NIAC program, known as the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, served agency needs from 1998 to 2007. It was an independent open forum for the external analysis and definition of revolutionary space and aeronautics concepts to complement the advanced concepts activities conducted within NASA.

In 2008, Congress directed the National Research Council to conduct a review of NIAC’s effectiveness and to make recommendations concerning the importance of such a program. Chief among the council’s recommendations was NASA and the nation would be well served by maintaining a mechanism to investigate visionary, far-reaching advanced concepts as part of the agency’s mission. Following an October 2009 hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, NASA re-established the NIAC program during fiscal year 2011.

NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist manages the NIAC program.

2011 NIAC Phase I Selections
 

Principal Investigator Proposal Title Organization State
Duda, Kevin Variable Vector Countermeasure Suit (V2Suit) for Space Habitation and Exploration The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory MA
Ferguson, Scott Enabling All-Access Mobility for Planetary Exploration Vehicles via Transformative Reconfiguration North Carolina State University NC
Gilland, James The Potential for Ambient Plasma Wave Propulsion Ohio Aerospace Institute OH
Gregory, Daniel Space Debris Elimination (SpaDE) Raytheon BBN Technologies VA
Hogue, Michael Regolith Derived Heat Shield for a Planetary Body Entry and Descent System with In-Situ Fabrication NASA Kennedy Space Center FL
Hohman, Kurt Atmospheric Breathing Electric Thruster for Planetary Exploration Busek Co. Inc. MA
Howe, Steven Economical Radioisotope Power Universities Space Research Association ID
Khoshnevis, Behrokh Contour Crafting Simulation Plan for Lunar Settlement Infrastructure Build-Up University of Southern California CA
Kwiat, Paul Entanglement-assisted Communication System for NASA’s Deep-Space Missions: Feasibility Test and Conceptual Design University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign IL
Mankins, John SPS-ALPHA: The First Practical Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array Artemis Innovation Management Solutions CA
Miller, David High-temperature superconductors as electromagnetic deployment and support structures in spacecraft Massachusetts Institute of Technology MA
Paul, Michael Non-Radioisotope Power Systems For Sunless Solar System Exploration Missions Pennsylvania State University PA
Pavone, Marco Spacecraft/Rover Hybrids for the Exploration of Small Solar System Bodies NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CA
Ritter, Joe Ultra-Light “Photonic Muscle” Space Structures University of Hawaii HI
Scott, Gregory Low Power Microrobotics Utilizing Biologically Inspired Energy Generation Naval Research Laboratory DC
Short, Kendra Printable Spacecraft NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CA
Sibille, Laurent In-Space Propulsion Engine Architecture based on Sublimation of Planetary Resources: from exploration robots to NEO mitigation NASA Kennedy Space Center FL
Silvera, Isaac Metallic Hydrogen: A Game Changing Rocket Propellant Harvard University MA
Slough, John Nuclear Propulsion through Direct Conversion of Fusion Energy MSNW LLC WA
Staehle, Robert Interplanetary CubeSats: Opening the Solar System to a Broad Community at Lower Cost NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CA
Strekalov, Dmitry Ghost Imaging of Space Objects NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CA
Stysley, Paul Laser-Based Optical Trap for Remote Sampling of Interplanetary and Atmospheric Particulate Matter NASA Goddard Space Flight Center MD
Swartzlander, Grover Steering of Solar Sails Using Optical Lift Force Rochester Institute of Technology NY
Tarditi, Alfonso Aneutronic Fusion Spacecraft Architecture University of Houston at Clear Lake TX
Thibeault, Sheila Radiation Shielding Materials Containing Hydrogen, Boron, and Nitrogen: Systematic Computational and Experimental Study NASA Langley Research Center VA
Tripathi, Ram Meeting the Grand Challenge of Protecting Astronaut’s Health: Electrostatic Active Space Radiation Shielding for Deep Space Missions NASA Langley Research Center VA
Werka, Robert Proposal for a Concept Assessment of a Fission Fragment Rocket Engine (FFRE) Propelled Spacecraft NASA Marshall Space Flight Center AL
Westover, Shayne Radiation Protection and Architecture Utilizing High Temperature Superconducting Magnets NASA Johnson Space Center TX
Whittaker, William Technologies Enabling Exploration of Skylights, Lava Tubes and Caves Astrobotic Technology Inc. PA
Wie, Bong Optimal Dispersion of Near-Earth Objects Iowa State University IA

 

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