The new NIAC Awards are out! New Spacesuits, Breathing Martian air, Advanced Telescopes, and More

The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) has been a significant funder of pie in the sky research for a long time now.  From extrasolar object interceptors to beaming power into a lunar crater, we love reporting about NIAC funded concepts here at UT.  Now, a new crop of Phase I and a smaller but more focused crop of Phase II fellows are funded to push the boundaries of space exploration forward.

We’ve reported on some of the Phase I concepts that received $175,000 to work on refining their concept for the next nine months, including the Venus Atmosphere and Cloud Particle Sample Return for Astrobiology, submitted by Sara Seager of MIT.  Other exciting concepts receiving first-round funding are a solid-state, electric vertical take-off and landing system, and a gigantic starshade that would allow Earth-based telescopes to search for signs of life in alien atmospheres.

Details of BREEZE – a NIAC funded project that would explore the atmosphere of Venus, among other places.
Credit – NASA

Phase II concepts, which have already completed a Phase I project, receive a total of $600,000 for two years of study.  Only five were selected this year, ranging from a deployable 1km long artificial gravity structure to 3D printed swarm-bots.  If nothing else, NIAC can always claim to be supporting incredible, cutting-edge technology.  Maybe sometime, some of it will even become a reality.

A complete list of the Phase I awardees includes:

A complete list of the Phase II awardees includes:f

Learn More:
NASA – NASA Selects Futuristic Space Technology Concepts for Early Study
Tech Times – NASA To Fund Futuristic Space Technologies! Concepts Receiving NIAC’s Phase I, Phase II Grants
TweakTown – NASA just awarded funding to a heap of insane futuristic technologies

Lead Image:
Collage of concept images from the various NIAC funded projects.
Credit – NASA