NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program is seeking proposals for technologies that could be used on future exploration missions.
The new proposals will build on the most promising ideas developed in the program’s first phase.
The NIAC program funds cutting-edge concepts that have the potential to transform future missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building, and operating aerospace systems.
NIAC’s Phase II studies provide an opportunity to develop the most promising Phase I concepts. These are aerospace architecture, mission, or system concepts with transformative potential. They must continue to push into new frontiers, while remaining technically and programmatically credible. NIAC’s current portfolio of diverse efforts advances aerospace technology in many areas, including construction, human systems, transportation, imaging, and robotic exploration.
“During the second phase of our NIAC program, visionary concepts are matured to advance concepts from notional to feasible,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “These advanced technology concepts are critical for kick-starting innovation that will enable our future missions.”
Recent NIAC Phase II studies have included a concept for a sample return for extreme environments, which could lead to a simple and efficient way to obtain multiple samples drilled out of an asteroid crust.
Another NIAC Phase II study is examining “SpiderFab,” an approach to 3D-printing of large structures in space. This could one day enable NASA to produce giant telescopes in orbit without having to design them to fit within a rocket shroud or withstand the vibration and g-loads of launch.
“In NIAC Phase I Studies, the focus is basic feasibility and potential benefit. In Phase II, we can get into real systems engineering and in some cases even demonstration” said Jay Falker, NIAC program executive at NASA Headquarters. “This is critical for taking concepts from paper studies to engineering implementation. Phase II also helps address the important technology development needs of NASA’s current and future programs.”
NASA will be accepting NIAC Phase II proposals of no more than 20 pages until June 3. Selection announcements are expected later this year. This solicitation is open only to current or previously awarded NIAC Phase I concepts. Complete guidelines for proposal submissions are available on the NIAC website at http://www.nasa.gov/niac.
NASA expects to select approximately five new Phase II studies this year. The number of awards will depend on the strength of proposals, availability of appropriated funds, and the overall number of Phase I and Phase II awards. Selected proposers may receive as much as $500,000 over two years to further analyze and develop their innovative concepts.
“Over the next 18 months, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate will make significant new investments that address several high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep-space exploration,” Gazarik added. “These focused technology thrust areas are tightly aligned with NASA’s Space Technology Roadmaps, the Space Technology Investment Plan, and National Research Council’s recommendations.”
NIAC is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions.