NASA plans to go beyond batteries for space exploration

  • 08-May-2014 02:21 EDT

Fly wheels, such as this NASA G2 flywheel module, are one way to store rotational energy for use by spacecraft or machines on Earth. NASA’s looking for new energy storage systems to enable its future exploration missions.

NASA announced that it is seeking proposals for the development of more capable energy storage technologies than batteries that will advance energy storage solutions for the space program and other government agencies, such as the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E).

"Over the next 18 months, NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate will make significant new investments that address several high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep-space exploration," said Michael Gazarik, Associate Administrator for Space Technology at NASA. "One of these challenges, advanced energy storage, offers new technology solutions that will address exploration and science needs."

NASA's solicitation has two category areas: "High Specific Energy System Level Concepts," which will focus on cell chemistry and system level battery technologies, such as packaging and cell integration; and, "Very High Specific Energy Devices," which will focus on energy storage technologies that can go beyond the current theoretical limits of lithium batteries while maintaining the cycle life and safety characteristics required of energy storage systems used in space applications.

NASA expects to make approximately four awards for Phase I of the solicitation, ranging in value up to $250,000 each. NASA says its investments in space technology provide  transformative capabilities to enable new missions, stimulate the economy, contribute to global competitiveness, and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers.

The Advanced Energy Storage Systems Appendix is managed by the Game Changing Development Program within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), and is part of STMD's NASA Research Announcement "Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion 2014" for research in high-priority technology areas of interest to NASA.

NASA's Langley Research Center in Virginia manages the Game Changing Development Program for STMD, which developes the critical technologies required to enable future exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit.

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