NIAC Phase I Awards Focused on Advanced Remote Sensing & Orbital Debris


The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at two Phase I awards focused on advanced remote sensing and orbital debris.

Rotary Motion Extended Array Synthesis (R-MXAS)
John Kendra
Leidos, Inc.

On-Orbit, Collision-Free Mapping of Small Orbital Debris
Christine Hartzell
University of Maryland, College Park

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.

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NIAC Phase I Awards Focused on Astronomy & Astrophysics


The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at three Phase I awards focused on astronomy and astrophysics.

Modular Active Self-Assembling Space Telescope Swarms
Dmitry Savransky
Cornell University

Astrophysics and Technical Study of a Solar Neutrino Spacecraft
Nickolas Solomey
Wichita State University

Spectrally-Resolved Synthetic Imaging Interferometer
Jordan Wachs
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NIAC Phase I Awards for Advanced Surface Operations

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

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at two Phase I awards focused on surface operations on other worlds.

Myco-architecture off planet: growing surface structures at destination
Lynn Rothschild
NASA Ames Research Center

Biobot: Innovative Offloading of Astronauts for More Effective Exploration
David Akin
University of Maryland, College Park

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NIAC Phase I Awards for Advanced Propulsion

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at three Phase I awards focused on advanced propulsion.

PROCSIMA: Diffractionless Beamed Propulsion for Breakthrough Interstellar Missions
Chris Limbach
Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station

Advanced Diffractive MetaFilm Sailcraft
Grover Swartzlander
Rochester Institute of Technology

Radioisotope Positron Propulsion
Ryan Weed
Positron Dynamics

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NIAC Phase I Awards Focused on Planetary Exploration

Graphic depiction of BALLET: BALloon Locomotion for Extreme Terrain (Credits: Hari Nayar)

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at three Phase I awards focused on planetary exploration.

Lofted Environmental and Atmospheric Venus Sensors (LEAVES)
Jeffrey Balcerski
Ohio Aerospace Institute, Cleveland

Marsbee – Swarm of Flapping Wing Flyers for Enhanced Mars Exploration
Chang-kwon Kang
University of Alabama, Huntsville

BALLET: BALloon Locomotion for Extreme Terrain
Hari Nayar
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NIAC Phase I Awards Focused on Moons & Asteroids

Graphic depiction of MIDEA: Meteoroid Impact Detection for Exploration of Asteroids (Credit: Sigrid Close)

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at three Phase I awards focused on the exploration of moons and asteroids.

Shapeshifters from Science Fiction to Science Fact: Globetrotting from Titan’s Rugged Cliffs to its Deep Seafloors
Aliakbar Aghamohammadi
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

SPARROW: Steam Propelled Autonomous Retrieval Robot for Ocean Worlds
Gareth Meirion-Griffith
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Meteoroid Impact Detection for Exploration of Asteroids (MIDEA)
Sigrid Close
Stanford University

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NIAC Phase II Awards for Propulsion Projects


The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at the following three Phase II awards focused on advanced propulsion.

Mach Effect for In Space Propulsion: Interstellar Mission
James Woodward
Space Studies Institute, Inc.

A Breakthrough Propulsion Architecture for Interstellar Precursor Missions
John Brophy
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pulsed Fission-Fusion (PuFF) Propulsion Concept
Robert Adams
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

Each award is worth up to $500,000 for a two-year study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NIAC Phase II Awards Focused on Astronomy

Kilometer Space Telescope. A single pixel from a galaxy in the Fornax Cluster (left) could appear more like a HST image of the Large Megallanic Cloud (right). (Credit: Devon Crowe)

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at the following two Phase II awards focused on space astronomy.

Direct Multipixel Imaging and Spectroscopy of an Exoplanet with a Solar Gravity Lens Mission
Slava Turyshev
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Kilometer Space Telescope (KST)
Devon Crowe
Raytheon

Each award is worth up to $500,000 for a two-year study. Descriptions of the awards are below.

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NIAC Phase II Award Funds Spacecraft Radiation Protection Research

Graphic depiction of Spacecraft Scale Magnetospheric Protection from Galactic Cosmic Radiation (Credits: John Slough)

Spacecraft Scale Protection from Galactic Cosmic Radiation

John Slough
MSNW, LLC
Award: Up to $500,000
Study Period: Up to 2 years

An optimal shielding configuration has been realized during the phase I study, and it is referred to as a Magnetospheric Dipolar Torus (MDT). This configuration has the singular ability to deflect the vast majority of the GCR including HZE ions. In addition, the MDT shields both habitat and magnets eliminating the secondary particle irradiation hazard, which can dominate over the primary GCR for the closed magnetic topologies that have been investigated in the past.

MDT shielding also reduces structural, mass and power requirements. For phase II a low cost method for testing shielding on Earth had been devised using cosmic GeV muons as a surrogate for the GCR encountered in space.

During the phase I study MSNW developed 3-D relativistic particle code to evaluate magnetic shielding of GCR and evaluated a wide range of magnetic topologies and shielding approaches from nested tori to large, plasma- based magnetospheric configurations. It was found that by far the best shielding performance was obtained for the MDT configuration.

The plans for phase II include an upgrade of the MSNW particle code to include material activation and a full range of GCR ions and energies. The improved particle code will be employed to characterize and optimize a subscale MDT for shielding GCR-generated muons arriving at the Earth’s surface. The subscale MDT will be designed, built, and then perform several shielding tests using the GCR induced muons at various locations and elevations.

The intent is to the validate MDT concept and bring it to TRL 4. A detailed design will be carried out for the next stage of development employing High Temperature Superconducting Coils and plans for both structures and space habitat. A substantial effort will be made to find critical NASA and commercial aerospace partners for future testing in Phase III to TRL 5.

A Closer Look at NIAC Phase II Awards for Asteroids & Moons

Graphic depiction of Triton Hopper: Exploring Neptune’s Captured Kuiper Belt Object (Credits: Steven Oleson)

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at the following three Phase II awards focused on new ways of exploring asteroids and moons.

Dismantling Rubble Pile Asteroids with AoES (Area-of-Effect Soft-bots)
Jay McMahon
University of Colorado, Boulder

Triton Hopper: Exploring Neptune’s Captured Kuiper Belt Object
Steven Oleson
NASA Glenn Research Center

NIMPH: Nano Icy Moons Propellant Harvester
Michael VanWoerkom
ExoTerra Resource

Each award is worth up to $500,000 for a two-year study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NASA Invests in Shapeshifters, Biobots & Other Visionary Technology


WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is investing in technology concepts that include meteoroid impact detection, space telescope swarms, and small orbital debris mapping technologies that may one day be used for future space exploration missions.

The agency selected 25 early-stage technology proposals that have the potential to transform future human and robotic exploration missions, introduce new exploration capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

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Space Studies Institute Begins Releasing Videos of 2017 Advanced Propulsion Workshop

Credit: SSI

MOJAVE, Calif. (SSI PR) — Last November Space Studies Institute NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Team Principal Investigator Dr. Heidi Fearn and Team Consultant Dr. James Woodward invited a group of friends and colleagues to discuss updates in engineering and testing of Propellant-less Propulsion, The “Woodward Effect,” The Machian Principle and other advanced physics and propulsion engineering topics.

Greg Meholic of The Aerospace Corporation, a presenter at the 2016 Estes Park Breakthrough Propulsion Workshop, offered an excellent space for this gathering in the Sally Ride Board Room at The Aerospace Corporation’s El Segundo, California headquarters.

The Space Studies Institute recorded the three day event and we are proud to begin releasing the full-length videos of the presentations starting this week on the SSI YouTube Channel ( https://www.youtube.com/c/SSISpaceStudiesInstitute ). In addition, most presenters provided their slides and we will be posting these on special new pages on the SSI.ORG website.

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Report Examines Benefits of Settling Space Using NEO Resources

TransAstra Corporation recently completed an in-depth study of how to use resources from near Earth objects to facilitate space exploration and settlement.

The 82-page report, “Stepping Stones: Economic Analysis of Space Transportation Supplied From NEO Resources,” was funded with a $100,000 grant from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.

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NIAC Phase I Award: Solar Surfing

Solar Surfing (Credit: Robert Youngquist)

Solar Surfing

Robert Youngquist
NASA Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months

Description

We propose to develop a novel high temperature coating that will reflect up to 99.9 % of the Sun’s total irradiance, roughly a factor of 80 times better than the current state-of-the-art. This will be accomplished by leveraging off of our low temperature coating, currently being developed under NIAC funding.

We will modify our existing models to determine an optimal high temperature solar reflector, predict its performance, and construct a prototype version of this coating. This prototype will be sent to our partner at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory where it will be tested in an 11 times solar simulator.

The results of this modeling/testing will be used to design a mission to the Sun, where we hope to come to within one solar radius of the Sun’s surface, 8 times closer than the closest distance planned for the upcoming Solar Probe Plus. This project will substantially advance the current capabilities of solar thermal protection systems, not only potentially allowing “Solar Surfing”, but allowing better thermal control of a future mission to Mercury.

Full List of 2017 NIAC Awards

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NIAC Phase I Award: Turbolift

Turbolift to assist astronauts on long duration space exploration missions. (Credit: Jason Gruber)

Turbolift

Jason Gruber
Medical Solutions Group
Tampa, Fla.

Value: Approximately $125,000
Length of Study: 9 months

Description

Long duration space exploration missions cause astronauts to experience physiological deconditioning, including bone loss, muscle atrophy, cardiovascular deconditioning, sensorimotor/balance impairment, and vision changes.

For a crewed Mars mission, where microgravity and reduced gravity (e.g. 0.38 G on the Martian surface) exposure may occur for 2+ years, deconditioning impacts the astronauts’ health, well-being, effectiveness, and safety.

Here, we propose a novel linear artificial gravity (AG) technology designed to counteract these deleterious effects on the astronauts. Previous “centrifuge” AG systems have negative impacts due to the constant rotating environment:

1) Coriolis forces, which may be confusing and limit concurrent exercise or lead to injury,

2) vestibular crosscoupling illusions, which are highly provocative and cause motion sickness, and

3) gravity gradients, where the loading varying along the length of the astronauts body. Alternatively, our linear AG technology (termed “Turbolift”) suffers from none of these confounding problems, particularly during the acceleration/deceleration “loading” phases.

Briefly, the conceptual paradigm is as follows: the astronaut is linearly accelerated at 1G for ~1s, then is rotated 180 degrees to prepare for a 1G deceleration for ~1s. This process is repeated to create intermittent AG where the force is always headward similar to standing here on Earth.

The experience is likely to be analogous to bouncing mildly on a trampoline. The intermittent loading is intended to reduce or eliminate the physiological deconditioning in a comprehensive, multi-system manner.

To evaluate the linear AG technology, we aim to perform an engineering design analysis to quantify the required size and mass of the system. We also aim to design a scale model of the system to test its feasibility, such that it can be properly evaluated as countermeasure system to enable long duration crewed exploration missions.

Full List of 2017 NIAC Awards

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