NASA has selected 399 rather scifi-sounding research and technology proposals that will help enable NASA’s future missions into deep space.
Selected proposals aim to support the development of technologies in the areas of aeronautics, science, human exploration and operations, and space technology.
- High temperature superconducting coils for a future fusion reaction space engine. These coils are needed for the magnetic field that allows the engine to operate safely. Nuclear fusion reactions are what power our sun and other stars, and an engine based on this technology would revolutionise space flight.
- Advanced drilling technologies to enable exploration of extraterrestrial oceans beneath the icy shells of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, which can be miles thick. This is critical for detecting past or present life in these off-world oceans.
- New wheels for planetary rovers that dramatically improve mobility over a wide variety of terrains. This new design has multiple applications and could potentially impact any heavy-duty or off-road vehicle in diverse markets such as farming and defense.
- Software-enabling collaborative control of multiple unmanned aircraft systems, especially in scenarios where uncrewed vehicles fly in close proximity to crewed flights. These types of operations also are of interest to national security and disaster relief missions, including fire management.
- A leading-edge manufacturing process that enables recycling of used or failed metal parts by placing them into a press, producing a slab of metal, and machining it into a needed metal part in logistically remote environments, such as a space station or long-duration space mission. This area also is of interest to the manufacturing sector, since there is a need to reduce processing footprint.
The awards have a total value of $49.9 million.