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NASA Invests In Visionary Space Technologies Including Meteoroid Impact Detection, Shapeshifters

NASA is investing up to $500,000 to 25 technologies designed to improve space explorations. The U.S. space agency said projects will undergo first and second phases to give innovators the opportunity to improve their technologies and ensure its technical feasibility.  ( Dan Kitwood | Getty Images )

NASA is taking a step forward toward revolutionizing space explorations as it invests in 25 early-stage technologies, including meteoroid impact detection, telescopes, and space debris mapping.

The 2018 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts is giving out $125,000 worth of investment to 25 space technology concepts for its Phase 1 stage. Awardees who pass through the first phase can then advance to the next level of project development.

Better Space Explorations

In an official statement, NASA said the project is intended to improve human space explorations, introduce new exploration approaches, and redefine current techniques in operating aerospace systems.

Jim Reuter of the Space Technology Mission Directorate division said that NIAC provides the opportunity to partner with independent entrepreneurs and innovators to provide better concepts in the space race.

The NIAC Phase 1 will include definition and analysis of the idea. Once a proposal passed through the first step, applicants can move on to the second phase for the awarding of the fund.

Cutting Edge Technologies

The NIAC Phase 1 projects include Shapeshifters that can navigate in the space as well as deep ocean floors, Biobots that can walk in space with less weight and effort, and the Meteoroid Impact Detection for Exploration of Asteroids or MIDEA.

Meanwhile, grantees of the Phase 2 studies will have an opportunity to refine their designs and explore other options in implementing their technologies.

Phase 2 projects include propulsion architecture for interstellar missions, large-scale space telescopes, Triton exploration tools, and Mach effect gravity assistant. Recipients of the Phase II award shall be given a combined funding of $500,000 within a two-year feasibility study.

"Phase II studies are given to the most successful Phase I fellows, whose ideas have the best possibility of changing the possible," said Jason Derleth, a NIAC program executive. "Their two-year timeframe and larger budget allow them to really get going on the business of creating the future."

Also part of the NIAC is the so-called Marsbee, a group of flying robots that will assist the Mars rovers in its mission; SPARROW, an acronym for a steam-propelled robot for exploring oceans; and PROCSIMA, which stands for beamed propulsion for interstellar missions.

The projects were selected through an extensive peer-review process that requires innovativeness and technical feasibility. NASA emphasized that the NIAC proposals, even those in the second phase, are still in the early stages.

NASA said in its press release it will take at least a decade for these technologies to mature and more years before it can be used in space explorations.

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