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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I Solicitation Now Open!
All NIAC solicitations can be found at http://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations

2012 NIAC Solicitation

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) 2012 Phase I Solicitation (NNH12ZUA002N) is Now Open! The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program seeks to inspire and nurture revolutionary concepts that could transform future aerospace endeavors. NIAC will fund early studies of visionary, long term concepts - aerospace architectures, systems, or missions (not focused technologies). The goal of NIAC is to give visionary ideas a chance. NASA recognizes that concepts to transform the future may come from innovators across the nation, so this exciting program is open to everyone. If you have a revolutionary concept that NASA should consider, you are encouraged to submit a NIAC proposal.

This solicitation is for NIAC Phase I studies. Typical awards will be up to $100K for a typical duration of up to 1 year. Due to the overwhelming number of submitted proposals to this program in the previous year, NIAC is using a 2-step proposal process this year: Step A is meant to ensure that the topic of the proposal is aligned with the NIAC vision, and the concept is both technically credible and has the potential to be a game-changer for aerospace. Submitted Step A whitepapers will be no more than 2 pages in length, and are due on February 9, 2012.

Step A whitepapers that meet the criteria will be invited to submit a full proposal to Step B. Invited Step B proposals will be no more than 10 pages in length, and will be due on April 16, 2012. Awards based on this solicitation are contingent on appropriated funds.

NRA Overview

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Phase I studies are focused on early studies of visionary concepts. NASA will seek proposals that align with the agency's Space Technology Roadmaps and NASA's Space Technology Grand Challenges. These must be:
  • Aerospace architecture, mission, or system concepts
  • Revolutionary, yet technically substantiated
  • Very early development (TRL 1-2 or early 3; aiming 10 or more years out)
To further clarify, NASA is explicitly not soliciting NIAC proposals that
  • Are incremental in nature. There are other programs for continuing research or evolutionary technology development. NIAC seeks breakthrough concepts that could redefine the future possibilities for NASA.
  • Are narrowly focused. NIAC develops aerospace architecture, mission, or system concepts. The improvement of smaller constituents (e.g., subsystems, components, instruments, materials) alone is not the intent of this program.
  • Fail to identify a concept or stop short of developing it. The proposal must begin with a clear concept. A literature search, workshop, or research plan may be an interim step, but not an end in itself. The results must then be applied to assess and mature the concept.
  • Lack an architecture or mission context. Solely performing experiments on fundamental processes, analysis, or theoretical derivations is not sufficient. They must be clearly connected to a concept as described above.
This is an open announcement. NIAC proposals will be welcome from unaffiliated individuals, or those affiliated with any educational institution, commercial or not-for-profit organization, research laboratory, agency, or NASA Center (including JPL). The lead proposer must be a U.S. citizen or working in the U.S., but teaming by non-US organizations will be permitted, subject to NASA’s policy on foreign participation.

Further questions can be directed to hq-niac@mail.nasa.gov where NIAC staff will read and respond promptly.

Full details will be in the NASA Research Announcement (NRA).