Kennedy News

Stephanie Covey
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Sept. 7, 2012
RELEASE : 51-12
NASA Kennedy Space Center Funds Employee Innovations
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- As part of a new initiative to help foster worker innovation and creativity, NASA's Kennedy Space Center is funding a dozen employee ideas designed to improve the center.

The funding comes from Kennedy Kick-Start, an employee competition to further encourage innovation. The new competition was held Thursday during the first Innovation Expo. The event highlighted employee innovative work and showed how it helps to shape the future of the center and NASA.

Sixteen employees gave 90-second pitches of potential center improvements that would cost less than $5,000 in equipment. The ideas ranged from 3-D printing of a working robot hand to commissioning artists to recycle space shuttle hardware as art.

A panel of eight judges consisting of Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana and senior management from organizations across the center selected 12 projects to fund immediately and complete within four-to-six months. The selected innovations were announced Friday, and they are:

- Publish mission audio on an Internet radio station to provide a more consistent and inexpensive feed
- Purchase 150 smart-surge protectors to distribute across the center to save on energy expenses
- Commission artists to recycle space shuttle hardware into art pieces that can be displayed across the center
- Study the artificial gravity effects on hydroponics grown on the International Space Station
- Study the benefits of a virtual control panel, which would enable employees to shut off valves, and do work remotely
- Encourage online collaboration, which could in turn reduce travel expenses and increase productivity
- Study planetary ice mining by down-hole energy injection
- Study the ability to generate power for the center through waste heat recovery
- 3-D printing of a functional robotic hand
- Separation of water ice from regolith in vacuum by methods of melting
- Pneumatic conveyor for large volumes of regolith which could reduce the time and expense of studies and student programs, such as lunabotics
- "Quick-Attach" to Humvee vehicle mounting interface for exploration payloads and excavation implements

Kennedy works to spur innovation on a daily basis. By retrofitting its world-class ground systems and facilities for both government and commercial users, and infusing innovative ideas into ongoing and forward-looking programs such as Launch Services, International Space Station, Commercial Crew, Orion and Space Launch Systems, the center helps NASA reach America's space exploration goal.

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