David E. Steitz
WASHINGTON -- 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. For a complete list of the selected proposals, and more information about the program, visit http://www.nasa.gov/oct.
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