To fund preliminary studies of technologies that could be used in future aerospace missions, the US space agency created NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.
Photo: NASA – Disclosure by NIAC
Founded in 2011, the successor to the Institute for Advanced Concepts, the program has just announced its latest award-winning projects totaling US$5.1 million (approximately OMR25.8 million).
“As we focus on increasingly challenging destinations to explore with humans and robots, innovative ideas and forward-thinking will be essential to help us reach new milestones,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Milroy said in a NASA news release. “Concepts like these explored in this new round of NIAC funding help us expand the scope of what we can achieve.”
Among the projects selected, there are 12 new proposals for Phase I studies, as well as five Phase II grants that will allow researchers to continue their previous work on innovative concepts.
The selected projects are still in the early stages of development, and are not considered official NASA missions. Phase One Fellows will receive $175,000 per nine-month study, and Phase Two Fellows will receive $600,000 per student over two years.
“NASA’s mission to explore the universe requires new technologies and new ways of doing things,” said Jim Reuter, associate director of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at Headquarters in Washington. “Exploring these creative ideas is the first step in turning science fiction into science reality.”
Explore some of the space technology concepts selected by the agency
Among the new first-stage projects is a new design for a manned spacecraft that offers more radiation protection on long flights than conventional crew units. There is also a design for a completely silent electric aircraft and an idea for a spacecraft that can harness the sun’s heat to propel it out of the solar system at very high altitudes, among other proposals.
John Mather, the 2006 Nobel Prize winner in Physics and an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, presents a concept that could help humanity study Earth-like exoplanets. The shadow of stars the size of a football field in space aligns with ground-based telescopes, blocking the light of distant stars and allowing astronomers to look for signs of life in the atmospheres of other planets.Star systems.