NASA announced on Friday that it has selected five technologies to fund, which could "revolutionize America's space capabilities".
Earlier this year, NASA launched its Game Changing Development program, calling for proposals focused on "sudden and unexpected innovations" that could potentially change the game. Now, we know which ones NASA is betting on.
The awards for the projects range from $125,000 to $1.8 million, with a total NASA investment of approximately $6 million through 2015.
Here are the projects:
1. Representing and Exploiting Cumulative Experience with Objects for Autonomous Manipulation
This proposal comes from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. NASA says the technology could improve autonomous robotic operations using artificial intelligence during deep space missions.
2. Lightweight High Performance Acoustic Suppression Technology Development
This proposal comes from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "This technology could suppress acoustic environments during launch," NASA explains. "By reducing vibrations by acoustic suppression during launch, the amount of prelaunch vibration stress testing for onboard instruments also could be reduced."
3. Fast Light Optical Gyroscopes for Precision Inertial Navigation
This one comes from the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. NASA says this technology could enhance navigation capabilities for spacecraft, by improving the performance of existing gyroscopes by a factor of 1,000.
4. EHD-Based Variable Conductance Thermal Interface Material
This one comes from Boeing, which recently reached an agreement with NASA as part of its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative.
According to NASA, the development of this thermal material could provide better heat management for spacecraft.
5. Membrane Enabled Reverse Lung
This one comes from Oceaneering Space Systems in Houston. Simply put, it could reduce the number of life support systems required for Astronauts.
NASA says the selected proposals each address "critical technological barriers" for the advancement of space exploration. Considering they're trying to take space travel commercial, anything that can help in that regard has to be worth it.