NASA has selected seven university-led proposals for the study of innovative, early stage technologies that address high priority needs for America’s space program.
The selected proposals for unique, disruptive, or transformational space technologies will address challenges in robotic mobility when traversing extreme terrain, in developing lightweight and multifunctional materials and structures, and in lowering the size, weight, and power of lasers for space missions. The selected technology research areas require dramatic improvements over existing capabilities for future science and human exploration missions.
“Technology drives exploration, and these researchers will provide fuel for NASA’s innovation engine,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “Sustained investments must be made to mature the capabilities required to reach the challenging destinations that await exploration, such as an asteroid, Mars and outer planets. These investments help to assure a robust university research community dedicated to advanced space technology development.”
The grants from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants Program are worth approximately $200,000 per year with up to three years of research possible. The grants are awarded to outstanding faculty researchers early in their careers as they conduct space technology development of high priority to NASA.
The selected NASA Early Career Faculty researchers are:
* John Conklin, University of Florida, Gainesville; “A Compact, Low Power Pulsed Optical Communication System for Spacecraft”
* Aaron Dollar, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; “Digital Manufacturing of Lightweight and Efficient Structures via Reconfigurable Lattice Printing”
* Christopher Hansen, University of Massachusetts, Lowell; “Design and Fabrication of Aerospace-Grade Digital Composite Materials”
* Marc Killpack, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; “Model Predictive Control of an Underdamped, Pneumatically Actuated, Soft Robot with Flexible Links for Unmodeled Environments”
* Jonathan Klamkin, Boston University; “HELIOS: Heterogeneous Laser Transmitter Integration for Low SWaP”
* Rebecca Kramer, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana; “Active Elastic Skins for Soft Robotics”
* Carmel Majidi, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh; “Multi-Purpose Artificial Muscle and Sensor Array for Untethered Soft Robots”
Aligned with NASA’s Space Technology Roadmaps and priorities identified by the National Research Council, the agency has topic areas that lend themselves to the early stage innovative approaches U.S. universities can offer for solving tough space technology challenges.
NASA’s Early Career Faculty efforts are an element of the agency’s Space Technology Research Grants Program. This program is designed to accelerate the development of technologies originating from academia that support the future science and exploration needs of NASA, other government agencies, and the commercial space sector.
This solicitation is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is responsible for innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. Over the next 18 months, the directorate will make significant new investments to address several high-priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep space exploration.