NIAC Award: Dynamic Orbital Slingshot for Rendezvous with Interstellar Objects

Rendering of the Dynamic Orbital Slingshot concept. (Credits: Richard Linares)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)
Phase I Award
Amount: $125,000

Dynamic Orbital Slingshot for Rendezvous with Interstellar Objects

Richard Linares
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Grand Challenge of Visiting an Interstellar Object: The study of asteroids and comets has revealed a treasure trove of information about the formation and history of our solar system.

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NIAC Award: Advanced Aerocapture System for Enabling Faster-Larger Planetary Science & Human Exploration Missions

Discrete Magnets Positioned Circumferentially and Coaxially on the Forebody for Steering and Mitigating Heat Flux. (Credits: Robert Moses)

NASA Advanced Innovative Concepts (NIAC)
Phase I Award

Amount: $125,000

Advanced Aerocapture System for Enabling Faster-Larger Planetary Science & Human Exploration Missions

Robert Moses
NASA Langley Research Center

Aerocapture offers huge potential increases in science return by allowing the ability to deliver larger payloads, enabling faster transits of existing instruments, or offering flexibility to integrate payloads onto a single and perhaps cheaper launch vehicle. Previous calculations quantified the cost and delivered mass advantages of aerocapture for eleven representative missions for eight possible destinations in our solar system.

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NIAC Award: Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration

Graphic depiction of Biobot: Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration (Credits: D. Akin)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC)
Phase II Award
Amount: $500,000

Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration

David Akin
University of Maryland, College Park

No parameter in the design of spacesuits for planetary exploration is more important than ‘weight on the back’- the weight of the suit system which must be supported by the wearer under the gravity of the Moon or Mars. The added weight of the spacesuit garment and portable life support system (PLSS) drives the required exertion level of the wearer, and ultimately sets limitations on EVA duration, distance traveled on foot, and productivity of the exploration mission.

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NIAC Award: Ultra Lightweight Nuclear Electric Propulsion Probe for Deep Space Exploration

Graphic depiction of the SPEAR Probe concept. (Credits: Troy Howe)

NASA Innovative Advance Concepts (NIAC)
Phase II Award
Amount: $500,000

SPEAR Probe – An Ultra Lightweight Nuclear Electric Propulsion Probe for Deep Space Exploration

Troy Howe
Howe Industries LLC

Nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) systems have the potential to provide a very effective transit mechanism to celestial bodies outside of the realm of solar power, yet the heavy power source and massive radiators required to justify a reactor core often push NEP spacecraft towards very large masses and major missions.

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