Innovation

Got awesome tech concepts? Call NASA

curiosity

Getting to Mars demands bright ideas. NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program aims to fund more of them.

If you have a visionary concept that could improve current approaches to NASA's aerospace objectives or enable new types of missions, the space agency may want to help fund it.

NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program is seeking proposals for "revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform aerospace endeavors."

The space agency wants to see proposals on visionary aerospace architecture, interesting systems or credible, executable mission concepts that have not been attempted before.

NIAC's portfolio encapsulates several technologies contributing to "innovations in human systems, sensing or imaging, revolutionary construction, autonomous exploration, and aerospace transportation," according to the agency. Past concept awardees have included the use of electromagnets to protect spacecraft from radiation and a solid-state air purifier with no moving parts.

This latest call for the first phase of NIAC proposals offers up to $100,000 for nine months of study to advance a concept. Phase 1 solicitation is a two-step process, with short proposals – up to three pages in length – due by Dec. 18. NASA will review them and invite select proposal creators to submit a longer proposal by March 2014. The number of available awards will depend on a proposal's strength and the availability of funding.

Phase 1 awardees may apply later for a NIAC phase 2 award, where selectees can receive up to $500,000 over two years to further their concepts.

"It's through visionary thinking that transformative ideas go from concept to reality," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology. "Our NIAC program provides an onramp for early stage technology concepts to take seed and potentially create revolutionary new capabilities for space exploration that might one day change how we live and work as we explore the cosmos."

To learn more about the NIAC program and view the NASA Research announcement for the solicitation, visit http://www.nasa/gov/niac.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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