NASA iTech Semifinalists Rethink Terrestrial Technologies for Space


WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and 3D printing are just a few of the technology threads pitched during the third cycle of the NASA iTech competition. With an eye on how these promising ideas could benefit space exploration, NASA has selected 25 competition semifinalists.

An initiative by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), iTech aims to find innovative ideas that have the potential to overcome critical technology hurdles facing future exploration of the Moon and Mars, even though many were originally meant to solve important problems here on Earth.

These game-changing ideas may come from small or large businesses, academia and other government organizations, giving participants a unique opportunity to present their solutions to NASA.

“NASA iTech is a one of a kind agency activity,” said Kira Blackwell, the NASA iTech program executive for STMD. “Our top 25 semifinalists represent proposed technologies with the greatest technical viability, likely impact on space exploration and potential for commercialization.”

In July, NASA iTech issued a call for ideas within five space exploration focus areas: Big Data and Data Mining, Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Robotic Capabilities, Revolutionary Concepts for Communications, Medical Breakthroughs, and X-Factor innovations.

The top 25 2018 NASA iTech Cycle III semifinalists (in alphabetical order) are:

  1. ActivArmor LLC – Pueblo, Colorado
    A 3D printed waterproof, breathable and hygienic alternative to traditional plaster casts and splints that allows for increased customization.
  2. Analytical Space – Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Data relay network solution to dramatically expand the utilization of Earth observation technology and provide satellites with more opportunities to downlink data.
  3. Apptronik, Inc. – Austin, Texas
    Versatile human-like robotic platform capable of performing a variety of critical tasks for future crewed and uncrewed exploration missions.
  4. Aptage – Austin, Texas
    A novel approach to project management that enables measuring and updating project uncertainty to quantitatively represent the risk of missing cost and schedule targets.
  5. Artimus Robotics – Boulder, Colorado (Winner of the NASA iTech Ignite the Night event in Denver)
    Robots and machines made with artificial muscles that utilize a unique materials system to create simple, lightweight and cost-effective electromechanical actuators.
  6. Cemvita Factory, Inc. – Houston
    Bionic plant module that mimics the complete photosynthesis process and offers onsite, in-situ manufacturing of essential life support elements.
  7. Cognitive Space – Manvel, Texas
    A software framework that can be maintained, improved, diagnosed and reconfigured easily to allow for autonomous satellite operations.
  8. Danish Aerospace Company North America – Houston (Winner of the NASA iTech Ignite the Night event in Houston)
    A water purification technology that removes biological and chemical activity using a passive membrane.
  9. DataMi, LLC – Denver
    Analytic techniques to automate and predict large data sets.
  10. Delfin – Houston
    A virtual advisor built from natural language processing algorithms.
  11. Devali, Inc. – Cedar Park, Texas
    Biometric analysis socks with user interfaces to track, monitor and study various body measurements.
  12. Exostretch – University of Houston – Houston
    Flexible and stretchable lithium ion batteries.
  13. International Game Technology PLC – Reno, Nevada
    A rover that can reconfigure using artificial intelligence software and onboard 3D printing.
  14. Ion Power Group, LLC – Navarre, Florida
    Nanotechnology capable of producing clean, high-voltage electricity during the day and night.
  15. Lazarus 3D – Houston
    Space medicine training and research models made with 3D printed materials.
  16. Matroid, Inc. – Palo Alto, California
    Computer vision software product focused on detecting faces and objects in video and image libraries.
  17. New Dominion Enterprises, Inc. – San Antonio, Texas
    Safer and longer lasting lithium ion batteries that resist heat-related power loss.
  18. NSEP Technology, Inc. (NTI) – Alexandria, Virginia
    Nano-structured propellants capable of enabling superior launch systems.
  19. Olympus Advanced Technologies, LLC – Erie, Pennsylvania
    A precise frequency control and timing solution for small satellites to advance payloads, subsystems and mission operations.
  20. One Milo, Inc. – Miami
    Compact devices that enable rapid diagnostic testing – using samples of blood, urine or saliva – and wirelessly send results to a smartphone application.
  21. PharmaJet, Inc. – Golden, Colorado
    A portable and handheld needle-free injection technology.
  22. Spectrabotics LLC – Colorado Springs, Colorado
    An artificial intelligence toolset for spectral image processing.
  23. SUNY University at Buffalo – Buffalo, New York
    An advanced manufacturing process to create a silica-carbon aerogel with a smaller pore size, enhanced durability and increased infrared radiation absorption.
  24. The Matrixx Power Suit Company, LLC – Astoria, New York
    An exercise training suit designed to improve physical performance in the areas of strength, speed, endurance, rehabilitation, weight loss and general health maintenance.
  25. Tinman Kinetics – Littleton, Colorado
    Semantic language technology that could be used to address the psychological challenges and complexities of distance, time and isolation in space.

A panel of subject-matter experts from NASA will further review the top 25 Cycle III semifinalist selections based on their relevance, likelihood of success and potential positive impact on space exploration and life on Earth.

The top 10 finalists for Cycle III will be announced no earlier than Oct. 1, 2018. These 10 finalists will be invited to present their ideas to NASA leadership, space industry leaders and potential investors at the NASA iTech Cycle III Forum to be held in Hartford, Connecticut, on Oct. 25-26, 2018. The winning three teams will be selected and recognized during a non-monetary awards ceremony at the culmination of the forum. They will receive continued mentorship to help ensure success in bringing their innovations to market.

For information about the NASA iTech initiative, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/itech