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.
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 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.
Principal Investigator Proposal Title Organization Duda, Kevin Variable Vector Countermeasure Suit (V2Suit) The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Ferguson, Scott Enabling All-Access Mobility for Planetary Exploration Vehicles via Transformative Reconfiguration North Carolina State University Gilland, James The Potential for Ambient Plasma Wave Propulsion Ohio Aerospace Institute Gregory, Daniel Space Debris Elimination (SpaDE) Raytheon BBN Technologies Hogue, Michael Regolith Derived Heat Shield for a Planetary Body Entry and Descent System with In-Situ Fabrication NASA Kennedy Space Center Hohman, Kurt Atmospheric Breathing Electric Thruster for Planetary Exploration Busek Co. Inc. Howe, Steven Economical Radioisotope Power Universities Space Research Association Khoshnevis, Behrokh Contour Crafting Simulation Plan for Lunar Settlement Infrastructure Build-Up University of Southern California Kwiat, Paul Entanglement-assisted Communication System for NASA's Deep-Space Missions: Feasibility Test and Conceptual Design University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Mankins, John SPS-ALPHA: The First Practical Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array Artemis Innovation Management Solutions Miller, David High-temperature superconductors as electromagnetic deployment and support structures in spacecraft Massachusetts Institute of Technology Paul, Michael Non-Radioisotope Power Systems For Sunless Solar System Exploration Missions Pennsylvania State University Pavone, Marco Spacecraft/Rover Hybrids for the Exploration of Small Solar System Bodies NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Ritter, Joe Ultra-Light “Photonic Muscle” Space Structures University of Hawaii Scott, Gregory Low Power Microrobotics Utilizing Biologically Inspired Energy Generation Naval Research Laboratory Short, Kendra Printable Spacecraft NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Sibille, Laurent In-Space Propulsion Engine Architecture based on Sublimation of Planetary Resources: from exploration robots to NEO mitigation NASA Kennedy Space Center Silvera, Isaac Metallic Hydrogen: A Game Changing Rocket Propellant Harvard University Slough, John Nuclear Propulsion through Direct Conversion of Fusion Energy MSNW LLC Staehle, Robert Interplanetary CubeSats: Opening the Solar System to a Broad Community at Lower Cost NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Strekalov, Dmitry Ghost Imaging of Space Objects NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Stysley, Paul Laser-Based Optical Trap for Remote Sampling of Interplanetary and Atmospheric Particulate Matter NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Swartzlander, Grover Steering of Solar Sails Using Optical Lift Force Rochester Institute of Technology Tarditi, Alfonso Aneutronic Fusion Spacecraft Architecture University of Houston at Clear Lake Thibeault, Sheila Radiation Shielding Materials Containing Hydrogen, Boron, and Nitrogen: Systematic Computational and Experimental Study NASA Langley Research Center Tripathi, Ram Meeting the Grand Challenge of Protecting Astronaut's Health: Electrostatic Active Space Radiation Shielding for Deep Space Missions NASA Langley Research Center Werka, Robert Proposal for a Concept Assessment of a Fission Fragment Rocket Engine (FFRE) Propelled Spacecraft NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Westover, Shayne Radiation Protection and Architecture Utilizing High Temperature Superconducting Magnets NASA Johnson Space Center Whittaker, William Technologies Enabling Exploration of Skylights, Lava Tubes and Caves Astrobotic Technology Inc. Wie, Bong Optimal Dispersion of Near-Earth Objects Iowa State University