News Column

NASA Gives Space Tech Grants to Early Career University Faculty

February 2, 2014

NASA'sSpace Technology Mission Directorate is seeking proposals from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of outstanding early career faculty members who are beginning their independent careers.

According to a release, the grants will sponsor research in specific, high priority areas of interest to America's space program.

Aligned with NASA's Space Technology Roadmaps and priorities identified by the National Research Council, the agency has identified topic areas that lend themselves to the early stage innovative approaches U.S. universities can offer for solving tough space technology challenges.

"NASA believes the innovation and creativity early career university faculty possess is critical for solving the hard space technology challenges the agency and American industry face today," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington. "These grants help assure the U.S. will continue to lead the world in space tech research and development for decades to come."

NASA expects to award about five grants this fall, funded up to $200,000 each per year for as many as three years, based on the merit of proposals and availability of funds. Funded research will investigate unique, disruptive or transformational space technologies in areas such as soft machines for robotic mobility and manipulation, science-based digital materials and manufacturing, and low size, weight, and power lasers.

For future space exploration and applications here on Earth, NASA is seeking advances in flexible and form-changing machines. Soft machines are hybrids of soft and hard materials that are inherently strong against impact and unexpected collision. Soft machines hold promise for performing in situations where flexibility is required and it is difficult to predict when contact may occur, such as when planetary rovers traverse extreme terrain or when robotic manipulators operate in close proximity to humans.

As the requirements for aerospace structures become more complex, there also is a need to create an innovative capability for manufacturing ground and space structures. This research topic area seeks technologies in materials design, process modeling and material behavior prediction that will lead to new lightweight and multifunctional materials and structures.

The third topic area under this solicitation seeks to develop low size, weight, and power lasers that could be used for lower-cost, lighter-weight Earth science space platforms. Advanced lasers also may enable reliable, higher data rates while requiring less size, weight and power on future interplanetary space missions.

Notices of intent to submit proposals to the Early Career Faculty Appendix of NASA's Research Announcement "Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion 2014 (SpaceTech-REDDI- 2014)" are due February 14. The deadline for submitting final proposals is March 14.

More information:

http://tinyurl.com/kcglhca

www.nasa.gov/spacetech

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