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Innovative Ideas Pay Off


Holly Kurth |
June 19, 2020

The JSC Chief Technologist Office (CTO) and the JSC Technology Working Group (JTWG) recently announced the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020) Innovation Charge Account (ICA) project awardees from NASA’s Johnson Space Center and White Sands Test Facility (WSTF). The ICA program awards funding to both civil servants and contractor personnel from Johnson and WSTF, with an emphasis on identifying innovative early stage ideas in technology, but also in all aspects of improving or enhancing JSC and WSTF operations and capabilities.  

“ICA projects are an important component of JSC’s technology portfolio, helping identify key solutions and innovative ideas that will further advance our critical missions,” said Johnson Chief Technologist Carlos Westhelle. “These projects allow us to work smarter and quickly explore new concepts that one day could be infused into mainline programs and further narrow the challenging technology gaps in spaceflight.” 

This is the 11th year Johnson is providing funding for ICA projects. Over the years, more than 220 projects have been able to continue to promote innovative work and develop new technologies — or new approaches to business — that can positively affect the agency’s future endeavors. 

This year, 48 individual ICA proposals were submitted for consideration. The JTWG spent multiple days and numerous hours reviewing and down-selecting to the 20 projects that make the FY2020 ICA cohort for the 16-week period of performance. The JTWG selected projects demonstrating the highest potential for enhancing, or enabling, future human space exploration missions or Johnson center operations.   

Previous and current ICA Principal Investigator Diane Byerly said, “An ICA award offers a great opportunity to pursue a cutting-edge idea, assess feasibility, establish proof-of-concept and even take an original idea to the next level and turn it into an innovation that could potentially impact future space exploration — and our everyday lives.” 

These ICA projects, along with Center Innovation Fund Independent Research and Development projects, ARES projects and other technology development initiatives will be highlighted at the annual JSC Technology Showcase poster session (slated for the fall) in the Building 3 collaboration area. 

The JSC CTO is proud to highlight the outstanding innovators we work with, and we look forward to seeing the progress the ICA principal investigators make as they dare to innovate, accelerate and explore. Congratulations!

FY2020 Johnson/WSTF ICA principal investigators and project titles:

Cody Burkhart – Exosuit Prototype Knee (EPK)
Diane Byerly – Mitigating Viral Reactivation for Exploration
Christian Castro – Microbial Toxin Detection Using a MinION Mk1C
Toni Clark – Can Reflector Panels Tame Terrible Lunar Lighting
Michael Evans – “Gandalf’s Staff” Scientific EVA Walking Stick
Kristopher Field – AR Development to Support Exploration Spacecraft
Yartiza Hernandez – Optimize Padding for Body Deformation in Lunar EVA
Steve Hornung – Thermal Control Concept for Remote Lunar Hardware
Travis Hoyt – Lightweight Vacuum Insulation for Noise Mitigation
Stephanie Krieger – Radiation Countermeasure Isolated from Vegetables
Ryan Lawrence – Spacesuit Inflatable Wrist Dam
Ernest Lewis – Lunar Flexible Architectures for Surface Tubes
Harry Litaker – VR Eye Tracking and Rover Window Design
Douglas Litteken – Regolith Radiation Protection for Inflatable Habs
Carole Mullenax – Electromagnetic Pain Relief / Blocking
Taylor Phillips-Hungerford – Next Gen Powered Payload Prototype
Andrew Rechenberg – Hyper-Converged Virtualization on COTS Hardware
Satish Reddy – Resonance Amplified Shaker (RASh) System
John Michael Rollins – Imaging Study for Lunar Spacesuit Dust Mitigation
Khoa Vu – Advanced Low Power Environmental Control (ALPEC)

Slated for the fall, a new JSC Technology Showcase will highlight FY2020 project awardees. Here, at the 2019 JSC Technology Showcase, Xulei Wu presents her project poster on 3D Printed Food. Credits: NASA

ICA projects demonstrate the highest potential for enhancing, or enabling, future human space exploration missions or Johnson center operations. Credits: NASA
ICA projects demonstrate the highest potential for enhancing, or enabling, future human space exploration missions or Johnson center operations. Credits: NASA
For FY2020, 48 individual ICA proposals were submitted, with 20 projects selected to receive funding during a 16-week period of performance. Credits: NASA
For FY2020, 48 individual ICA proposals were submitted, with 20 projects selected to receive funding during a 16-week period of performance. Credits: NASA