• Focus Areas for 2021 Cycle I

    Take a look at the topics below and submit an idea to our 2021 Cycle I Forum event!


    Advancements in Mining

    Advancements in automated drilling and tunnel boring systems, drones, smart sensors, and autonomous vehicles are continuing to have a huge impact on mining automation, digitization, and electrification. Such advancements could be significant for a lunar mining colony for future NASA missions.

    Autonomous Systems for Aeronautics

    NASA seeks Autonomous Systems that provide enabling capabilities for Air Traffic Management, Communications, and collaborative drones. Technologies of interest include but are not limited to improvements in human/machine interfaces and decision making, hyperlocal weather forecasting and routing response for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Artificial Intelligence Technologies, and robust detect and avoid solutions. Responses to this category may apply to either traditional airspace operations or to emerging airspace domains such as AAM and UAS.

    Community Integration of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)

    NASA is interested in stimulating markets that will allow for effective adoption of Advanced Air Mobility within municipalities. Enabling capabilities including but are not limited to industry sponsored Weather Data Infrastructure Testbeds that would benefit AAM, Urban Planning Simulators incorporating AAM and multimodal architectures that support Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) efforts and Multimodal Information Management System (MIMS) that includes AAM as one element of a Smart City transportation data management system. A viable path to municipal adoption or utilization is a key element of evaluation.


    More information on sensing equipment, data delivery or upgrades to existing weather sensing networks can be found at https://www.nctcog.org/ep/casawx or https://climate.ncsu.edu/econet. More information on Metropolitan Planning Organizations can be found at https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/transportation-planning/metropolitan-planning-organization-mpo.

    Electric Aircraft

    NASA seeks technologies that enable the future of electrified aircraft. Needs in this area include but are not limited to game changing solutions in power density (both storage and motors), thermal management, controls, and Power Management and Distribution (PMAD) relevant to multiple vehicle platforms including electric and hybrid electric passenger aircraft, UAS, and RVLT.

    Enabling Technologies for Handling and Ride Quality in Urban Air Mobility Vehicles

    NASA seeks to stimulate the market for Urban Air Mobility by actively addressing the passenger experience through handling and ride quality. Solutions of interest include but are not limited to: flight dynamics and cabin environment models​, enabling technologies for human-in-the-loop handling-quality and ride-quality testing, empirical evaluation of handling quality and ride quality via human-in-the loop testing and analytic modeling, and vehicle technologies to ensure acceptable handling and ride quality.

    Power Generation/Energy

    NASA seeks advancements in power generation and storage capabilities, including breakthroughs in transfer management and conversion, to drastically improve safety and energy density while reducing mass for air and space systems.

    Quantum Sensors

    Have the potential to provide advancements in quantum computing, density mapping, improved imaging technologies, improved inertial measurement unit
    (IMU) for navigation, and quantum communications, all of which will be helpful for future NASA missions.

    Resource Optimization

    Despite the comparative abundance of resources here on Earth, scarcity and sustainability continue to increase the importance of managing our waste streams. The scarcity of the resources we bring on space missions and those available at our destinations makes resource optimization and waste stream management even more crucial in space missions. In space, reducing, reusing, and recycling are matters of necessity. NASA seeks resource optimization solutions including but not limited to food and water technologies (production storage, waste management), sanitation, and personal hygiene that reduce the resources required for astronauts to live comfortably on long-duration missions.

    Small Satellite Technology

    NASA is looking to reduce the infant mortality rates of small spacecraft and extend their operating life, thereby enhancing their usability and prevalence in NASA missions and commercial markets. Capabilities that would enable the rapid, cost-effective, and agile development of reliable small spacecraft include but are not limited to, radiation tolerance, affordable automated manufacture/assembly/test in clean environments, and space compatible materials and COTS components.

    Small Spacecraft Technology

    Development has grown significantly in the last decade. The need for further development and testing of small spacecraft technologies in areas such as communications, propulsion, pointing, power, and autonomous operations is necessary for future NASA missions.

    Space-Age Packaging Solutions

    Innovation in packaging solutions allows for efficiencies in volume, mass, sustainability, reuse, repurpose, handling, and automation. Terrestrial Logistics innovations allow industry to ship more and waste less. Earth- based efficiencies are critical to enable cost- effective deep space transportation, where environmental challenges are magnified. On long- duration space missions, logistical innovations will enable more effective and sustainable exploration.

    Synthetic Biology

    Redesigning organisms for useful purposes and re-engineering them to produce a substance to address problems in medicine, manufacturing, and agriculture. It can also be used to advance the nutrition and safety of astronauts living away from Earth for long periods for future NASA missions.

    X-Factor Aeronautics

    NASA is not aware of all of the technologies that could potentially provide game-changing capability in aeronautics. If you believe that you have an aeronautics relevant technology that NASA is currently unaware of that will dramatically enhance NASA capabilities, strategic objectives, or stimulate NASA-relevant commercial aeronautics markets, then this is the category for you.

    X-Factor Innovations

    NASA is not aware of all of the technologies that could potentially provide game-changing capability. If you believe that you have something that NASA is currently unaware of that will dramatically enhance NASA capabilities or, missions, or stimulate NASA-relevant commercial markets, then this is the category for you.

  • Innovators Wanted.

    Submit an idea to one of our NASA iTech events.

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