The FSI, a collaboration of universities that supports space research and education, awarded grants to facilitate two joint NASA and UCF teams pursuing these projects, which seem like sci-fi but are within technical reach.

“The Florida Space Institute is turning increasingly toward growing the range and diversity of space efforts at UCF,” said Alan Stern, director of the FSI. “Combining our strengths with the talents and experience of NASA is a winning combination to secure our place as a leader of space technology and research.”

Current technology requires cooling and heating of the compartments that are used to fuel space vehicles, making the process complicated and more expensive.

New materials synthesized in labs that resist super heat or cold are needed to develop new storage units and propulsion systems for the next generation of spacecraft that will travel to asteroids and nearby planets.

Similarly, sensor systems like those used by home-security systems, would be ideal for detecting threats to spacecraft – everything from temperature to biohazards. However, the sensor system needs to be passive (no battery) and wireless, given the harsh environments and long distances involved in space exploration.

The FSI awarded $30,000 to the wireless technology team and $20,000 to the new materials team.

The wireless-sensor system team includes UCF Professor Donald Malocha and Robert Youngquist at NASA KSC.

The new-materials team is comprised of James Fesmire, Martha Williams, Mark Lewis, Angela Krenn and Andrew Kelly of NASA at the Kennedy Space Center, Mary Ann Meador of GRC, Lou Salerno of ARC, and Raj Vaidyanathan, an associate professor at UCF’s Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center.

The Florida Space Institute is collaboration among UCF and other Florida universities and colleges. FSI’s goal is to develop a vibrant and diverse suite of space efforts for UCF, its partners, and Florida.

For more information about the Florida Space Institute, visit