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Posted: Apr 29, 2013
NASA and its partners solicit creative materials manufacturing solutions
(Nanowerk News) NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. State Department and Nike have issued a challenge to identify 10 game-changing innovations that could enable fabric systems to enhance global economic growth, drive human prosperity and replenish the planet's resources.
The challenge is open through July 15 and seeks creative innovations in the materials from which fabrics are made, with a focus on positive social and environmental impact in space and on Earth. Ten innovators will be selected to present their fabrics solutions at the LAUNCH: System Challenge 2013 forum, which NASA will host Sept. 26-28 at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Fabrics, and the materials from which they are made, are important for designing new spacecraft and spacesuits that will protect astronauts as they venture to destinations farther than they have been before. Innovations presented at the LAUNCH: System Challenge 2013 forum may lead to new, stronger, lighter and more affordable fabrics that will benefit NASA as it sends humans deeper into our solar system.
Spacecraft traveling to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, such as an asteroid or Mars, will need stronger materials to protect astronauts from galactic radiation. Likewise, when astronauts are outside their spacecraft exploring an asteroid or the Martian surface, they will need new, stronger, more durable and more flexible spacesuits.
NASA and the LAUNCH Council, which is made up of thought leaders representing a diverse and collaborative body of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, government, media and business, will participate in the forum and help guide these innovations forward. The selected LAUNCH innovators will receive networking and mentoring opportunities from influential business and government leaders, as well as portfolio presentations.
Previous LAUNCH forums have focused on water, health, energy and waste management. These forums resulted in innovations, including technology that enables irrigation using brackish, saline and polluted water; a biodegradable needle that can deliver vaccines or medicine under the skin using a pressure device; a tiny holographic microscope attached to a cell phone that can detect parasites and bacteria in blood and water in remote locations; a handheld lab-in-a-box that diagnoses a variety of diseases in a matter of minutes; a modular, flexible smart-grid distribution technology to provide access to power for those in need; and a simple, affordable fuel cell that converts biomass directly to electricity.
NASA invests in technologies to create a better future, and those investments pay off here on Earth, creating new jobs and improving lives. LAUNCH was created to identify, showcase and support innovative approaches to global sustainability challenges. LAUNCH searches for visionaries whose ideas, technologies or programs show great promise for making tangible impacts on society in the developed and developing worlds.