NASA is funding 18 space tech research projects. These 2 reside in the DC area - DC

Apr. 18, 2019 10:04 am

NASA is funding 18 space tech research projects. These 2 reside in the DC area

As part of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, NASA is helping researchers from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., and Reston, Va.-based Leidos, Inc.
One effort will investigate a power system for a descent probe into planets such as Saturn, pictured above.

One effort will investigate a power system for a descent probe into planets such as Saturn, pictured above.

(Photo via NASA/Wikimedia Commons

Washington, D.C.-based NASA is investing in a group of space tech projects, and two of them are being built in the D.C. area.

As part of its NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, 18 early-stage space tech studies are getting a financial boost from the aerospace agency.

“Our NIAC program nurtures visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions by investing in revolutionary technologies,” Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate said in a statement. “We look to America’s innovators to help us push the boundaries of space exploration with new technology.”

The investment awards were made in two phases:

  • Phase I studies receive approximately $125,000 to help researchers define and analyze their proposed concepts over nine months. If successful, awardees can apply for Phase II.
  • Studies under Phase II can receive as much as $500,000 for two-year studies to help researchers further develop concepts, refine designs and start considering how the new technology would be implemented. These selected studies have to have already gone through and completed Phase I.

NASA selected the 18 proposals through a peer-review process that was based on innovativeness and technical viability, the announcement said.

Noam Izenberg of Johns Hopkins University‘s Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md., will receive a Phase I award to investigate the Ripcord Innovative Power System (RIPS). The effort will study a drag-using ripcord unspooling power system for descent probes into planets with atmospheres, such as Saturn.

Reston, Va.-based Leidos will receive a Phase II investment for its Rotary-Motion-Extended Array Synthesis (R-MXAS) created by researcher John Kendra. The R-MXAS is a “geostationary synthetic aperture imaging radiometer with a rotating tethered antenna,” a description states. This could have applications that benefit climate and weather modeling, among others.


Information for the other 16 research projects can be found on the program’s website.

The program also reports that it will award a first-time Phase III investment to one space tech project up to $2 million for as long as two years. This project will be selected from the NIAC program based on its potential of impact to NASA, government agencies and commercial companies. The solicitation is only open to current or any previously awarded NIAC Phase II fellows who have successfully completed a Phase II study and submitted their Phase II final reports, NASA communications rep Clare Skelly told

“NIAC is about going to the edge of science fiction, but not over,” Jason Derleth, NIAC program executive said in the news release. “We are supporting high impact technology concepts that could change how we explore within the solar system and beyond.”

There will not be any D.C. meetups during the program, Skelly said, but the annual NIAC Symposium will take place this September in Huntsville, Ala.

Companies: NASA

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