NASA picks ideas to transform future space missions

NASA has selected 30 proposals for funding under the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.

The advanced concepts selected for study under NIAC were chosen based on their potential to transform 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 (£61,000) for one year to advance the space technology concept and help NASA meet operational and future mission requirements.

‘These innovative concepts have the potential to mature into the transformative capabilities NASA needs to improve our current space mission operations, seeding the technology breakthroughs needed for the challenging space missions in NASA’s future,’ said the agency’s chief technologist Bobby Braun.

Proposals include changing the course of dangerous orbital debris; a spacesuit that uses flywheels to stabilise and assist astronauts as they work in microgravity; the use of 3D printing to create a planetary outpost; and multiple propulsion and power concepts needed for future space mission operations.

NASA solicited 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 10 years from what NASA describes as ‘mission infusion’.

The portfolio of ideas represented multiple technology areas, including power, propulsion, structures and avionics, as identified in NASA’s Technology Roadmaps.

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