Status Report

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) NRA released

By SpaceRef Editor
January 10, 2012
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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) NRA released

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, or NIAC, program is seeking proposals for revolutionary concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions. Proposed concepts should enable new capabilities or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating space systems.

NIAC projects are chosen for their innovative and visionary characteristics, technical substance, and early development stage — ten years or more from use on a mission. NIAC’s current portfolio of diverse and innovative ideas represents multiple technology areas, including power, propulsion, structures and avionics.

“NIAC is a forward-looking program that captures what’s great about America’s space program,” said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “NASA is looking for futuristic concepts that may enable leaps forward in how we work in and explore the space frontier. Equally important, we’re asking for ideas from all sources: American citizen-inventors or educators working out of their garage to the visionary small business owners fueling our nation’s economy.”

This second call for proposals follows last summer’s inaugural selection of Phase I concepts, which are now under study. Due to the tremendous response and large number of submissions received from last year’s NIAC call for proposals, this year’s Phase I solicitation will incorporate a two-step process.

NIAC will accept short proposals, limited to two pages in length, until Feb. 9. After review, NASA will invite those whose concepts are of interest to the agency to submit a full proposal of no more than ten pages. Full proposals will be due April 16.

NASA expects to fund approximately 15 proposals in this year’s Phase I process. Those selected will receive up to $100,000 for one year to advance the innovative space technology concept and help NASA meet current operational and future mission requirements. Selection announcements are expected this summer. The solicitation is open to all U.S. citizens and researchers working in the United States, including NASA civil servants.

The number of awards will depend on the strength of proposals and availability of appropriated funds. The number of Phase I awards also will be balanced with NASA’s selection of Phase II awards. Phase II awards will be selected from Phase I concepts submitted last year that the agency decides to advance.

Past NIAC Phase I proposals have included a broad range of imaginative and creative ideas, including: changing the course of dangerous orbital debris; a spacesuit that uses flywheels to stabilize and assist astronauts as they work in microgravity; the use of 3-dimensional printing to create a planetary outpost; microbial fuel cell technology for powering tiny robot explorers; and other innovative propulsion and power concepts needed for future space mission operations.

NASA’s early investment and partnership with creative scientists, engineers and citizen inventors will pay huge technological dividends and help maintain America’s leadership in the global technology economy.

NIAC is part of NASA’s Space Technology Program, managed by the Office of the Chief Technologist. To view the NASA Research Announcement for this NIAC Phase I solicitation, and for more information about NIAC and NASA’s Space Technology Program, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.