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NASA Uses Advanced Space Technology Concepts for Study

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program fosters exploration by funding early-stage studies to evaluate technologies that could support future aeronautics and space missions. A new slate of awards will provide a total of $5.1 million to 17 researchers from nine states.

The deputy officer said that they set our sights on ever more challenging destinations for exploration with humans and robots; innovative ideas and future thinking will be critical to helping us reach new milestones. Concepts like those being studied with this latest round of NIAC funding are helping us expand the scope of the possible to make it a reality.

The selected concepts include 12 new projects for Phase I study, as well as five Phase II awards that will allow researchers to continue their prior work on innovative ideas. The projects are still in the early stages of development and are not considered official NASA missions. Phase I fellows will each receive $175,000 for a nine-month study, and Phase II fellows will receive $600,000 each for study over two years.

Associate administrator said that NASA mission to explore the universe requires new technologies and new ways of doing things. Studying these creative ideas is the first step to turning science fiction into fact. The selected Phase II projects include a design for small climbing robots that could explore subsurface caves on Mars, a novel way of using nuclear power for spacecraft, and a concept for a swarm of 3D-printed swimming micro-robots that could explore ocean worlds like Enceladus, Europa, and Titan.

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