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NASA's Up-And-Coming Innovations

NASA has accepted 22 Phase I and Phase II proposals that advance the future of space exploration and technology, two of which are authored by women. Heidi Kearn's "Mach Effects for Space in Propulsion: Interstellar Mission" was accepted under Phase I, and Stephanie Thomas' "Fusion-Enabled Orbiter and Lander" was accepted under Phase II.

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An abstract illustration depicting the some of the 22 accepted proposals. / Via

An abstract illustration depicting the some of the 22 accepted proposals.

On April 6, the NIAC, NASA Innnovative Advanced Concepts, accepted 22 Phase I and Phase II proposals that have the potential to further space exploration and technology. Proposals include topics such as optical asteroid mining, solar surfing, and Mars soil enrichment.

Phase I proposals are valued at approximately 125,00 for nine months, in order to fund the initial inquiry and analysis of that project. If these inquiries indicate that the project would be successful, then they may apply for a Phase II award.

Phase II awardees are given approximately 500,000 for a two year study in which they can refine their project and seek ways that it can be implemented.

The Woman of Phase I: Heidi Fearn

Heidi Fearn is the only woman among the 15 accepted Phase I proposals. Her project it titled "Mach Effects for Space in Propulsion: Interstellar Mission". Her analysis will be carried out at the Space Studies Institute in Mojave, California. Her proposal involves the study of a thrust producing technology to be used in NASA missions that involve space main propulsion. Her Mach Effect Thruster utilizes the Mach effect- the variations in the resting masses of objects that are subject to experiencing accelrations and internal energy charges. Utilizing the Mach effect allows for the production of thrust without the ejection of propellant.

The Woman of Phase II: Stephanie Thomas

Among the seven Phase II proposals, Stephanie Thomas' is titled "Fusion-Enabled Pluto Orbiter and Lander". This project involves the Direct Fusion Drive concept. The DFD is based on the Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration fusion reactor that's currently being developed at at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The DFD is being proposed for a Pluto orbiter and lander delivery mission. The DFD provides substantial thrust and mass that allow for efficient transit times to Pluto.

Next week, I'll make a post about one of these women in particular, their proposal, and their overall contributions to science. Thanks for reading!

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