From ‘Magnetoshells’ to Growable Habitats, NASA invests in next stage of visionary technology development and other crazy concepts.
NASA has selected eight technology proposals for investment that have the potential to transform future aerospace missions, introduce new capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.
The selected concepts are:
- Advancing Torpor Inducing Transfer Habitats for Human Stasis to Mars, John Bradford, Space Works, Inc. in Atlanta
- Cryogenic Selective Surfaces, Robert Youngquist, Kennedy Space Center in Florida
- Directed Energy Interstellar Study, Philip Lubin, University of California, Santa Barbara
- Experimental Demonstration and System Analysis for Plasmonic Force Propulsion, Joshua Rovey, University of Missouri in Rolla
- Flight Demonstration of Novel Atmospheric Satellite Concept, William Engblom, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida
- Further Development of Aperture: A Precise Extremely Large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements, Melville Ulmer, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois
- Magnetoshell Aerocapture for Manned Missions and Planetary Deep Space Orbiters, David Kirtley, MSNW, LLC in Redmond, Washington
- Tensegrity Approaches to In-Space Construction of a 1g Growable Habitat, Robert Skelton, Texas Engineering Experiment Station in La Jolla, California
Awards under Phase II of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program can be worth as much as $500,000 for a two-year study, and allow proposers to further develop concepts funded by NASA for Phase I studies that successfully demonstrated initial feasibility and benefit.
Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington, said:
“The NIAC program is one of the ways NASA engages the U.S. scientific and engineering communities, including agency civil servants, by challenging them to come up with some of the most visionary aerospace concepts. This year’s Phase II fellows have clearly met this challenge.”
Phase II studies allow awardees to refine their designs and explore aspects of implementing the new technology. This year’s Phase II portfolio addresses a range of leading-edge concepts, including: an interplanetary habitat configured to induce deep sleep for astronauts on long-duration missions; a highly efficient dual aircraft platform that may be able to stay aloft for weeks or even months at a time; and a method to produce “solar white” coatings for scattering sunlight and cooling fuel tanks in space down to 300 °F below zero, with no energy input needed.
Image credit NASA