With its NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, NASA is working to support early stage technologies in the minds and on the design tables of aerospace engineers that will move space or planet exploration forward in new and better ways. Phase II project award winners in the program have proven ideas that have promise of being feasible, having gone through the first phase of the program.

NIAC funds cutting-edge concepts with the potential to transform future aerospace missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter current approaches to launching, building and operating aerospace systems. NIAC Phase II awards are worth as much as $500,000 for two-year studies to further develop Phase I concepts. 

"I am always excited to see the Phase II proposals," said Jason Derleth, NIAC program executive in the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). "NIAC Phase II fellows have enough time and resources to get into some of the really exciting engineering details as they proceed on their journey to eventual flight."

Any project that has been accepted and embarked upon the first phase of the program is eligible to compete for Phase II. These proposals come from a variety of forward-thinking scientists, engineers and citizen inventors from across the United States. The program is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is responsible for “developing the cross-cutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions,” according to NASA. 

During this second phase, researchers can develop concepts, refine designs and start considering how the new technology would be implemented. For 2019, Phase II winners address a range of cutting-edge concepts from flexible telescopes to new heat-withstanding materials. Click on the image below to start a slideshow of the handful of projects that got the nod from NASA.

6 Promising NASA-Supported Space Projects