NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is seeking proposals from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of outstanding early-career faculty members who are beginning independent research careers. 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.
“These research grants will help NASA in the development of new space technologies needed for future science and exploration while also fueling the intellectual innovation engine of our nation, powering new discoveries for years to come,” said James Reuther, deputy associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “Technology drives exploration and these research efforts will help us reach new heights while benefiting Earth right now.”
NASA expects to award approximately six to eight grants this fall. Grants will be 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 dynamic tensegrity technologies for space science and exploration, high-temperature solar cells, fundamental aerothermodynamic model development and synthetic biology technologies for space exploration.
Dynamic tensegrity-based technologies have the potential to enable more capable and affordable space missions through large, reconfigurable space structures and lightweight, volume efficient landers. Tensegrity, or “tensional integrity,” uses tension and compression in skeleton structures for efficient and economic machine design. The first solicitation topic seeks dynamic tensegrity technologies for in-space, landing and surface operations applications.
Generation of power in a space environment is a challenge for all space missions. Research focused on high-temperature solar cells lead to smaller, more efficient and lower-cost solar cell size. The second topic seeks novel solar cell material combinations, cell laydown concepts, and heat rejection methods that allow solar arrays to function at reasonable levels of efficiency at higher operational temperatures.
NASA missions rely on computational simulations to predict conditions a spacecraft may experience during atmospheric entry on other planets — calculations that help experts decide the type and thickness of materials used to make thermal protection systems for spacecraft. Investment in basic aerothermal physical models and numerical methods is needed to generate revolutionary improvements to the current state of the art and enable NASA’s journey to Mars. This topic seeks innovative physical models for high speed non-equilibrium flows, novel approaches to obtain experimental validation data and improved numerical methods for the simulation of such flows.
NASA also is interested in innovative biological approaches to provide functions that traditional technologies cannot perform for future long-duration missions. Specifically, the fourth topic seeks novel synthetic biology-based approaches that can substantially improve functionality, reliability, and efficiency in food production, biomedical applications, and in situ resource utilization.
Notices of intent to submit proposals to the Early Career Faculty Appendix of NASA’s Research Announcement “Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion 2015 (SpaceTech-REDDI-2015)” are due March 20. The deadline for submitting final proposals is April 17.
For information on the solicitation, including specific technology areas of interest and how to submit notices of intent and proposals, visit:
This solicitation is issued by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is responsible for innovating, developing, testing, and flying hardware for use in future missions. For more information about the directorate and Space Technology Research Grants Program, visit:
David E. Steitz