By Chris Fish
BREVARD - For the first time, NASA's Kennedy Space Center is funding a dozen ideas presented by employees.
"This is an exciting time at Kennedy Space Center, with us looking to the future at the next step of exploration," said Stephanie Covey, public affairs officer at Kennedy Space Center. "Looking at ideas from employees is really going to help (the center) as we move forward and become more innovative."
The funding comes from Kennedy Kick-Start, an employee competition to further encourage innovation.
Thirty-three employees applied originally, Ms. Covey said. From the 33, 16 employees gave 90-second pitches of potential center improvements that would cost less than $5,000 in equipment.
The $5,000 is for the employee's project only. Employee will not receive any money directly.
A panel of eight judges, including Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana and senior management from organizations across the center, selected 12 ideas that will receive funding.
Despite each project having funding as much as $5,000, Ms. Covey said some projects will cost less than that amount.
"The ideas will go into development and come into fruition within four to six months," she said. "Once they are implemented, the center will assess whether or not they are beneficial."
In the past, the Kennedy Space Center has accepted ideas from employees in the engineering department. However, Ms. Covey said this is the first time that the center has accepted ideas from all employees.
"We have had employees from all over the center submit ideas," she said. "This dedication through this project will enable the center to flourish and grow from the ground up."
The 12 innovations selected by the center are as follows:
. Public mission audio on an Internet radio station to provide a more consistent and inexpensive feed
. Purchase 150 smart-surge protectors to distribute across the center to save on energy expenses
. Commission artists to recycle space shuttle hardware into art pieces that can be displayed across the center
. Study the artificial gravity effects of hydroponics grown on the international space stations
. Study the benefits of a virtual control panel, which would enable employees to shut off valves and do work remotely
. Encourage online collaboration, which could, in turn, reduce travel expenses and increase productivity
. Study planetary ice mining by down-hole energy injection
. Study the ability to generate power for the center through waste heat recovery
. 3-D printing of a functional robotic hand
. Separation of water ice from regolith in vacuum by methods of melting
. Pneumatic conveyor for large volumes of regolith, a layer of loose material covering rocks, which could reduce the time and expenses of studies and student programs, such as lunabotics
. "Quick-Attach" to Humvee vehicle mounting interface for exploration payloads and excavation implements.
For more information about Kennedy Space Center, visit www.nasa.gov/kennedy.