Research institutes will try and expand human presence in our solar system
NASA has announced that it has selected proposals for the creation of a pair of multi-disciplinary, university-led research institutes that will be used to develop technologies that are critical to extending human presence into our solar system. The new Space Technolgoy Research institutes (STRIs) that will be created with these proposals will mix in researchers from different disciplines and organizations.
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These researchers will then collaborate on advancing technologies in bio-manufacturing and space infrastructure. NASA says that the goal of these STRIs is to create and maximize Earth-independent, self-sustaining exploration missions.
"NASA is establishing STRIs to research and exploit cutting-edge advances in technology with the potential for revolutionary impact on future aerospace capabilities," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. "These university-led, multi-disciplinary research programs promote the synthesis of science, engineering and other disciplines to achieve specific research objectives with credible expected outcomes within five years. At the same time, these institutes will expand the U.S. talent base in areas of research and development with broader applications beyond aerospace."
Each of the STRIs will receive up to $15 million over a five-year period. The new institutes are the Center for the Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space or CUBES. CUBES will conduct advanced research on integrated, multi-function, multi-organism bio-manufacturing systems that are able to produce fuel, materials, pharmaceuticals, and food. Research goals will be for deep-space missions, but the tech is expected to help on Earth as well.
CUBES is led by Adam Arkin rom the University of California Berkeley and counts as partners Utah State University, the University of California, Davis, Stanford University, and industrial partners Autodesk and Physical Sciences, Inc.
The other STRI is the Institute for Ultra-Strong Composites by Computational Design or US-COMP. This institute will research transformative materials for building next-generation transit vehicles, habitats, power systems, and other exploration systems. US-COMP wants to develop and deploy a carbon nanotube-based, ultra-high strength, but lightweight aerospace structural material within the next five years.
US-COMP has 22 faculty members and is led by Gregory Odegard from Michigan Technological University along with partners Florida State University, University of Utah, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Florida A&M University, Johns Hopkins University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, Pennsylvania State University, University of Colorado and Virginia Commonwealth University. Industrial partners include Nanocomp Technologies and Solvay, with the U.S. Air Force Research Lab as a collaborator.