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NASA's Early-Stage Technologies to Make Futurist Materials
May 6, 2013
Last week at Nike headquarters in Portland, Ore., 150 materials specialists, designers, academics, manufacturers, entrepreneurs and non-governmental organizations met at the LAUNCH Systems Challenge 2013 to discuss innovations that can improve one of the toughest global and spaceflight challenges: materials and how they are made.
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LAUNCH is a partnership among the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Nike, the U.S. State Department and NASA that brings innovative thinkers together with other people who can help make change happen. Together, they come up with solutions to transform our existing human systems into new ones that are more sustainable, accessible and show promise for making tangible impacts on society in the developed and developing worlds. These systems are equally important to enable humans to travel to destinations beyond Earth like asteroids or eventually Mars. It's the perfect example of international collaboration and of how we can work together to get things done.

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The innovations presented at the Systems Challenge forum may lead to new, stronger, lighter and more affordable fabrics and materials made with a focus on positive social and environmental impact. These types of materials are vital to the design of next-generation spacecraft and spacesuits. On Earth, innovations spurred from LAUNCH could identify, showcase and support new approaches to transform the system of fabrics to one that stimulates economic growth, drives human prosperity and replenishes the planet's resources.

The Challenge will identify 10 game-changing early-stage technologies, prototypes or innovations that seek unexpected solutions from surprising sources. Innovations can be business models, financial instruments, technologies and programs that accelerate research or educational or capacity-building materials.
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The Challenge is open until July 15. Forum partners will select 10 innovators to present their fabrics solutions at the LAUNCH System Challenge 2013 forum, which will be hosted by NASA from Sept. 26 to 28 at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

NASA and the LAUNCH Council-thought leaders representing a diverse and collaborative body of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, government, media and business-will participate in the forum and help guide these innovations forward. The selected LAUNCH innovators will receive networking and mentoring opportunities from influential business and government leaders, as well as portfolio presentations.
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Previous LAUNCH forums have focused on water, health, energy and waste management. These forums resulted in innovations, including technology that enables irrigation using brackish, saline and polluted water; a handheld lab-in-a-box that diagnoses a variety of diseases in a matter of minutes; a modular, flexible smart-grid distribution technology to provide access to power for those in need; and a simple, affordable fuel cell that converts biomass directly to electricity.

For more information about LAUNCH Systems Challenge 2013 and to learn how to enter the challenge, visit: http://www.launch.org/challenges/systems-2013.
 

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Abstract image that visualizes frequency and density of data in a way that enables more informed design making.
Decision support and educational tools that guide positive impact design and inform better choices of chemistries and materials.
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Visualization of a silicon based artificial life form that is growing like a tree.
Multi-purpose synthetic and bio-synthetic materials.
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Data collection transforms into a visual light show
Open technology platforms to enable sharing, collaboration, contribution and unlimited accessibility to data that improves the analysis of sustainability impacts and stimulates an open data ecosystem.
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Abstract image showing how smart materials could change shape with beneficial uses.
Solutions that increase energy, water and raw material efficiency.
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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator