Nasa has chosen eight US-based technology concepts that can transform future aerospace missions, bring in new capabilities, and improve existing approaches to build and operate aerospace systems.

Selected under phase 2 of the Nasa Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) programme and funded by the agency’s space technology mission directorate, the concepts can be valued at around $500,000 for a two-year study.

The programme also allows the proposers to further develop Nasa-funded concepts for phase 1 studies that demonstrated initial feasibility and benefit.

According to Nasa, the phase 2 studies enable awardees to improve their designs and explore how to implement the new technology.

The selected proposals include an advancing torpor inducing transfer habitats for human stasis to Mars by John Bradford; Space Works in Atlanta; cryogenic selective surfaces by Robert Youngquist, Kennedy Space Center in Florida; directed energy interstellar study by Philip Lubin, from University of California, Santa Barbara.

"The NIAC programme is one of the ways Nasa engages the US scientific and engineering communities."

The proposals also include a concept of experimental demonstration and system analysis for plasmonic force propulsion from Joshua Rovey, University of Missouri in Rolla; flight demonstration of novel atmospheric satellite concept by William Engblom, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Besides, further development of aperture: a precise extremely large reflective telescope using re-configurable elements, Melville Ulmer, Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; magnetoshell aerocapture for manned missions and planetary deep space orbiters by David Kirtley, MSNW, in Redmond, Washington and tensegrity approaches to in-space construction of a 1g growable habitat, Robert Skelton from Texas Engineering Experiment Station in La Jolla, California are also selected.

Selected through a peer-review process that evaluated innovativeness and technical viability, the projects are still in the early stages of development, requiring around ten or more years of concept maturation and technology development before use on a Nasa mission.

Nasa Washington space technology mission directorate associate administrator Steve Jurczyk said: "The NIAC programme is one of the ways Nasa engages the US scientific and engineering communities, including agency civil servants, by challenging them to come up with some of the most visionary aerospace concepts.

"This year’s phase 2 fellows have clearly met this challenge."

Image: The phase 2 studies allow awardees to improve their designs and explore aspects of implementing the new technology. Photo: courtesy of Nasa.