NASA has selected 18 studies for further research as part of their NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, which aims to “change what’s possible in space”.
There are two "phases" for selection into the NIAC program, with each Phase I award valued at $125,000 to help "researchers define and analyse their proposed concepts over nine months".
If the initial studies are successful, awardees can apply for Phase II awards.
"Our NIAC program nurtures visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions by investing in revolutionary technologies," said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate.
"We look to America's innovators to help us push the boundaries of space exploration with new technology".
Selections for Phase I are as follows:
Phase II studies allow researchers to "further develop concepts, refine designs and start considering how the new technology would be implemented", and awards can be worth as much as $500,000 for two-year studies.
The 2019 Phase II selections are listed below:
The High Étendue Multiple Object Spectrographic Telescope (THE MOST): A new, flexible optical telescope design that can be a deployed in a cylindrical roll and installed upon delivery, on a 3D printed structure - Tom Ditto, 3DeWitt LLC, Ancramdale, New York
Rotary-Motion-Extended Array Synthesis (R-MXAS): A geostationary synthetic aperture imaging radiometer with a rotating tethered antenna - John Kendra, Leidos, Inc., Reston, Virginia
Self-Guided Beamed Propulsion for Breakthrough Interstellar Missions: An effort to advance self-guided beamed propulsion technology - Chris Limbach, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, College Station
Astrophysics and Technical Lab Studies of a Solar Neutrino Spacecraft Detector: A small-scale neutrino detector study to advance detector technology for future probe missions - Nickolas Solomey, Wichita State University, Kansas
Diffractive LightSails: A study to design and advance passive and electro-optically active diffractive films for missions in low-Earth orbit, inner solar orbits and to distant stars - Grover Swartzlander, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York
Solar Surfing: A materials-science study to determine the best protective materials to enable heliophysics missions closer to the Sun - Doug Willard, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida
The proposals selected for Phase I and II are done through a peer-review process, which places focus on innovativeness and technical viability.
NASA also confirmed that the NIAC Program will select one proposal for Phase III research studies, with the award worth up to $2 million for up to two years.
“NIAC is about going to the edge of science fiction, but not over,” said Jason Derleth, NIAC Program executive.
“We are supporting high impact technology concepts that could change how we explore within the solar system and beyond.”
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