NASA Seeks Innovations from American Universities

NASA is looking for some early stage space technology innovations from US universities. NASA is asking for proposals from accredited US universities that focus on innovative, early stage space technology that will improve shielding from space radiation, spacecraft thermal management, and optic systems. NASA feels that those three areas need dramatic improvements over existing systems to move space exploration forward.

NASA has some far out tech in mind, such as early-stage technologies and to protect astronauts from space radiation such as active radiation shielding. This would be things such as a shield composed of electromagnetic force fields surrounding a spacecraft to block radiation. Alternatively, NASA is considering multifunction materials that are improvements on components used today. NASA also wants new technology to allow reading and monitoring of radiation during space flights. NASA also wants new technology for the thermal management of fuels in space. Specifically, NASA wants improved technology for fuel tanks and refueling stations in space that store cryogenic propellants such as hydrogen over long distances and periods time.

The proposals will also include technologies for developing lightweight mirrors using next-generation techniques and materials for mirrors and advanced optical systems. Specifically, NASA wants to advance early-stage active wavefront sensing and control system technologies used in large aperture space-based observatories and telescopes. NASA intends to offer 10 awards to universities for projects it likes based on the merit of the proposals. The awards will be for one year with an additional year possible, and the typical annual award is expected to be $250,000.

"Both science and human deep space missions pose serious challenges that require new, innovative technological solutions," said Space Technology Program Director Michael Gazarik at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Radiation, thermal management and optical systems were all identified in the National Research Council's report on NASA Space Technology Roadmaps as priority research areas. This call seeks new ideas in these areas."