Developing Cutting-Edge Technological Concepts for the Future
November 19, 2009 -- Last week, for the first time in four years, a competitor in NASA’s "space elevator" challenge qualified for one of the contest's cash prizes. Part of NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, the contest challenges participants to transmit power from a remote transmittor to a device that climbs a cable suspended one kilometer high.
If successfully developed, applications of such a technology could include providing power to remote areas of military bases or operating unmanned aircraft for extended periods or even powering an elevator to the moon. Programs like the Centennial Challenges program encourage private companies and students to come up with creative solutions in aerospace research and technology.
From 1998-2007 the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) provided an independent open forum for innovators to confer and collaborate. Non-NASA scientists and students could give input on current projects and win grants to further research initiatives in advanced aeronautics and space concepts. The program gained public attention and encouraged students to pursue careers in technical subjects.
Congress directed the National Research Council to review the effectiveness of the NIAC program in 2008, in order to assess such programs and make recommendations about the proper role of NASA and the government in fostering scientific innovation and creativity. The report, Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, found that these programs are beneficial to the nation and should be implemented under a non-mission-specific agenda to ensure success.Other Resources: