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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters has released a solicitation, titled Early Stage Innovations (ESI), as an appendix to the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) umbrella NASA Research Announcement (NRA) titled "Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion 2019 (SpaceTech-REDDI-2019), on May 8, 2019.  The solicitation is available by opening the NSPIRES homepage at by selecting "Solicitations," then selecting "Open Solicitations," and, finally, selecting "Early Stage Innovations (ESI)."

STMD, and the Space Technology Research Grants (STRG) Program in particular, seek proposals from accredited U.S. universities to develop unique, disruptive, or transformational space technologies that have the potential to lead to dramatic improvements at the system level - performance, weight, cost, reliability, operational simplicity, or other figures of merit associated with space flight hardware or missions. Although progress under an award may be incremental, the projected impact at the system level must be substantial and clearly defined.

Our Nation's universities couple fundamental research with education, encouraging a culture of innovation based on the discovery of knowledge.  Universities are, therefore, ideally positioned to both conduct fundamental space technology research and diffuse newly-found knowledge into society at large through graduate students and industrial, government, and other partnerships.  STMD investments in space technology research at U.S. universities promote the continued leadership of our universities as an international symbol of the country's scientific innovation, engineering creativity, and technological skill.  These investments also create, fortify, and nurture the talent base of highly skilled engineers, scientists, and technologists to improve America's technological and economic competitiveness.  

Only accredited U.S. universities are eligible to submit proposals.  Teaming is permitted - see solicitation for complete eligibility requirements as well as teaming restrictions.

A PI (see solicitation for restrictions) or Co-I may participate in no more than two proposals in response to this appendix.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions are encouraged to submit proposals.  In addition, NASA encourages submission of ESI proposals on behalf of women, members of underrepresented minority groups, persons with disabilities, and faculty members who are early in their career.

The Appendix exclusively seeks proposals that are responsive to one of the six topics:

•    Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine Concept Development
•    Chemical Heat Integrated Power Systems
•    Rocket Plume-Surface Interaction Prediction Advancements
•    Machine Learning/Deep Learning Tools for Protecting Astronauts from Solar Energetic Particle Hazards
•    Next Generation Durability and Damage Tolerance Methodologies
•    Integration of Cryogenic Fluid Two Phase Numerical Modeling Techniques

NASA anticipates addressing other topics in future ESI Appendix releases.

The financial and programmatic support for ESI comes from the Space Technology Research Grants Program within the Space Technology Mission Directorate.  Awards are planned to start in mid-January 2020. NASA plans to make approximately 10-12 awards as a result of this ESI solicitation, subject to the receipt of meritorious proposals.  The actual number of awards will depend on the quality of the proposals received; NASA reserves the right to make no awards under this solicitation.

All proposals must be submitted electronically through NSPIRES or through ( by an authorized organizational representative.  Notices of Intent (strongly encouraged) are due by May 29, 2019, with proposals due on or before June 26, 2019, 5 pm Eastern.  Detailed submission instructions and due dates are provided in the solicitation.  Potential proposers and their proposing organizations are urged to familiarize themselves with the submission system(s), ensure they are registered in NSPIRES, and submit the required proposal materials well in advance of the deadline.

Technical and programmatic comments and questions may be addressed by e-mail to the Space Technology Research Grants Program Executive, Claudia Meyer, at ; Acquisition questions may be addressed by e-mail to the acquisition point of contact on this solicitation, Kimberly Cone, at ; Responses to inquiries will be answered by e-mail and may also be included in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) documents located on the NSPIRES page associated with the solicitation; anonymity of persons/institutions who submit questions will be preserved.

Claudia M Meyer, NASA Space Technology Research Grants Program Exec, Phone 202-358-4458, Fax 202-358-3602, Email

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