NASA Partners with Technology Innovators to Enable Future Exploration

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected two teams of agency technologists for participation in the Early Career Initiative (ECI) program. The program encourages creativity and innovation among early-career NASA technologists by engaging them in hands-on technology development opportunities needed for future missions.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) created the ECI to enable a highly collaborative, joint-partnering work environment between the best and brightest NASA early-career and leading innovators in industry, academia and other government organizations. The ECI program gives early-career employees an opportunity to propose and lead a project from beginning to end.

“This program provides exposure to alternative project management approaches,” said Ricky Howard, STMD’s Center Innovation Fund program executive. “It allows early-career employees experience outside of NASA’s standard management approach, and it will help STMD identify project management approaches that work better for technology development work.”

Teams selected for the ECI program and their topic areas are:

  • “Autonomous Guidance and Control System for Deployable Entry Vehicles,” led by Dr. Sarah D’Souza, principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, with external partners University of California at Davis on the vehicle system design and entry aerodynamic and aeroheating; and with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for systems engineering, requirements development, and overall monitoring.
  • “Orbital Syngas/Commodity Augmentation Reactor (OSCAR),” led by Anne Meier, principal investigator, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and external partner Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, for experiment consulting, design and fabrication work, and a suborbital test flight.

STMD received 18 proposals from NASA early-career teams for this year’s ECI call. Selected teams will refine their plans and negotiate agreements with partner organizations. The projects will be funded up to $1.25 million per year for a period of up to two years.

The ECI program is funded by STMD, which is responsible for developing crosscutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.

For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit: