NASA Space Tech Program to sponsor nuclear engineering research

NASA’s Space Technology Program has selected 14 proposals on commercial reusable suborbital launch vehicles for development and demonstration. Each idea was innovative in its own way, and one of these 14 proposals, "Demonstration of Variable Radiator,” was that of Dr. Richard “Cable” Kurwitz, lecturer in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University.

KurwitzKurwitz, associate research engineer and director of the Interphase Transport Phenomena Laboratory, is to develop a variable thermal energy rejection technology for spacecraft. The technology modulates portions of the spacecraft radiator to control spacecraft temperature during different phases of the mission. Variable heat rejection is considered an enabling technology for future NASA mission. The technology utilizes expertise gathered from over 20 years of reduced gravity research and technology development within the laboratory.

"We are pleased to be selected for the NASA Game Changing Opportunities Program. Our approach builds upon knowledge and technology derived from years of reduced gravity testing and we are excited to be working with NASA," Kurwitz said.

The submitted proposals offer unique approaches and solutions to high-priority technology needs recently identified in the National Research Council’s Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities report. Each report seeks to further advance and enable technology development for NASA’s current and future missions in exploration, science and space operations.

"These technology payloads will have the opportunity to be tested on commercial suborbital flights, sponsored by NASA, that fly up to and near the boundary of space," said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. "The flights will ensure the technology fidelity before they're put to work in operational systems in the harsh environment of space."

NASA's Flight Opportunities Program sponsored this solicitation in collaboration with NASA's Game Changing Development Program.

Awards will range from $125,000 to $500,000 with a total NASA investment of approximately $3.5 million. Payloads are expected to fly in 2013 and 2014.