NASA Seeks Proposals for Early-Stage Space Technologies

NASA seeks proposals for innovative, early-stage space technology research.

Early Stage Innovations (ESI) is an Appendix to the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) NASA Research Announcement (NRA), titled “Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion 2017 (SpaceTech-REDDI-2017).”

ESI is intended to accelerate the development of groundbreaking, high-risk/high-payoff space technologies to support high priority future space science and exploration needs of NASA, other government agencies, and the commercial space sector. The total ESI award value is up to $500,000. Research and development efforts will take place over three years, based on the merit of proposals and availability of funds.

This Appendix exclusively seeks proposals that are responsive to one of the seven topics described:

  • Advanced Coating Technology for Space Fission Power and Propulsion Systems

–        The objective of this topic is to develop advanced fuel coatings required by either nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) systems or high-power, high-performance space fission power systems. NTP has the potential to enable robust Mars exploration architectures, including a factor of two reduction in Earth-Mars round-trip transit time (compared to current mission scenarios), new abort modes, and improved overall logistics.

  • Relative Navigation Algorithms and Sensors for Autonomous Maneuvering in Proximity to Small Celestial Bodies

–        The objective of this topic is to advance autonomous small body navigation algorithms and sensors, which is necessary to enable autonomous navigation and maneuvering for a broad class of future small celestial body missions, including remote characterization, sample return, resource utilization, robotic precursors for crewed missions, and crewed missions.

  • Cross-cutting Technologies for EHF Band Space Applications

–        The objective of this topic is to develop cross-cutting Extremely High Frequency (EHF) band component and subsystem technologies for NASA’s advanced space telecommunications, remote sensing, and navigation applications.

  • Extraction of Water from Hard Extraterrestrial Soils

–        The objective of this topic is to develop new technologies to support the acquisition of water from hard extraterrestrial soils and regolith. Extraction of water on both the Moon and Mars would be an enabling technology for extended human missions, but must be demonstrated prior to including in situ propellants and life support consumables for crewed missions.

  • Predictive Modeling of Thermal Protection Material Thermostructural Behavior

–        This topic seeks the development of micro- and meso-scale models of the combined thermochemical/thermostructural behavior of ablative TPS material systems which advance the understanding of one or more of the key physical processes that govern material response in the entry environment.

  • Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamic Modeling of Additive Manufacturing Alloy Processing

–        The objective of this topic is to develop modeling approaches to determine the non-equilibrium phases produced in modern (i.e., powder-bed, powder-fed, and wire-fed) additive manufacturing processes. Potential research focuses include: A predictive, thermodynamics-based modeling approach to determine the formation of equilibrium and non-equilibrium phases during the processing additive manufacturing parts, and coupling the modeling approach with other methodologies to create a predictive approach to avoid or mitigate the formation of deleterious phases.

  • Lightweight Multifunctional Lattice Materials for Space Structures

–        The objective of this topic is to advance engineered lattice materials for structural applications to lower the mass of space exploration systems. Recent advances in 2D and 3D lattice material design, manufacturing, and optimization may enable significant advances over the state of the art.  A key research objective is to attach outer mold line skins to the lattice material similar to sandwich panels.

Notices of Intent are requested by June 2, 2017, and the deadline for proposal submissions is June 30, 2017.

Please direct correspondence/inquiries to