The Space topic will seek revolutionary technologies to be deployed outside Earth’s atmosphere to enhance the commercial use of space. Technologies could include innovations that provide cheaper, safer, and more frequent products and solutions to commercial space customers. This topic particularly seeks to support growth-oriented small businesses who have not previously received significant SBIR/STTR funding and are seeking to contribute to economic growth by developing innovative technologies supporting the overall emerging space economy.
Proposals should address real capability gaps or enabling technologies for the space industry, anchored with a solid understanding of the challenges of working in space, including launch, mass and volume restrictions, radiation and thermal environment, communications and latency, power and energy, etc. NSF encourages proposals with revolutionary satellite and vehicle hardware or systems innovations involving propulsion systems, navigation systems, and energy collection and power generation systems unique to space environments, in-space manufacturing systems and services; Earth imaging and sensing; planetary (other than Earth) physical surveying, mapping, and prospecting services; extraction and processes of water and volatiles (not on Earth); search for extraterrestrial intelligence, space tourism, space weather, interplanetary habitats, and analytic algorithms based on data collected extensively from space-based systems, either alone or in combination with terrestrial systems.