From fungal architecture to shape-shifting robo-swarms, here are NASA’s latest moonshots

GadgetsTechnology News April 5, 2018 Latest Update

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program is perhaps the best place to get federal funding for an idea that sounds crazy — because the...

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program is perhaps the best place to get federal funding for an idea that sounds crazy — because the program managers think it might be just crazy enough to work.

Researchers making the “Phase I” cut are awarded about $125,000 over 9 months to develop their idea, be it mind-boggling or merely technically difficult. If significant progress is made or the concept is otherwise found to be promising, a second “Phase II” investment of up to $500,000 can be made at NASA’s option.

This year, according to NIAC program executive Jason Derleth, was “especially fierce, with over 230 proposals and only 25 winners.” A significant amount of Phase II awards were also made (you may remember some from last year’s selections).

I’ve collected most of them here with explanations in the plainest language I could summon — click on to see what NASA thinks the future of space exploration might look like.

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