Early Career Faculty (ECF)

Funding Agency:
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) hereby solicits proposals from accredited U.S. universities for innovative, early-stage space technology research of high priority to NASA’s Mission Directorates. 

This specific Appendix is titled Early Career Faculty (ECF) and is one of four calls for proposals from STMD’s Space Technology Research Grants (STRG) Program. Early Stage Innovations (ESI), Space Technology Research Institutes (STRI) in applicable years, and NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunities (NSTGRO) appear as Appendix B2, Appendix B3, and Appendix B4, respectively, under the SpaceTech-REDDI NRA.

This Appendix seeks proposals on specific space technologies that are currently at low Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). Investment in innovative low-TRL research increases knowledge and capabilities in response to new questions and requirements, stimulates innovation, and allows more creative solutions to problems constrained by schedule and budget. Moreover, it is investment in fundamental research activities that has historically benefited the Nation on a broader basis, generating new industries and spin-off applications.

This Appendix seeks proposals to develop unique, disruptive, or transformational space technologies that have the potential to lead to dramatic improvements at the system level — performance, weight, cost, reliability, operational simplicity, or other figures of merit associated with space flight hardware or missions. Although progress under an award may be incremental, the projected impact at the system level must be substantial and clearly defined. This Appendix does not seek literature searches, survey activities, or incremental enhancements to the current state of the art (SOA).


  • Notice of Intent: Feb. 26, 2020
  • Proposals: March 25, 2020

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

  • Topic 1 – Coordinated Multi-Robots for Planetary Exploration 
  • Topic 2 – Advanced Plant / Food Production Technologies for Space Exploration
  • Topic 3 – Enhanced Diagnostics for Characterizing Entry Aerothermal Environments in High-enthalpy Impulse Facilities
  • Topic 4 – Micro or Nano-structuring Multi-layer Insulation Shields for Ultra-low Emissivity

Eligibility Requirements

Only accredited U.S. universities are eligible to submit proposals on behalf of their outstanding new faculty members who intend to develop academic careers related to space technology.

The proposed research must be led by a single, eligible PI:

The PI must be an untenured Assistant Professor on the tenure track at the sponsoring U.S. university at the time of award. If the PI’s appointment is scheduled to change to Associate Professor (either tenure-track or tenured) on or before the award date, he/she is not eligible for an ECF award. At the time of selection, the university must provide, on behalf of a selected PI, confirmation that he/she will remain untenured in a tenure-track Assistant Professor position until at least the award date (date the funding instrument is effective).

The PI must be a U.S. citizen or have lawful status of permanent residency (i.e., holder of a U.S. Permanent Resident Card, also referred to as a Green Card) no later than August 1 following the proposal submission deadline, and both the biographical sketch and department letter should specifically address the U.S. citizenship/permanent residency requirement.

A PI may submit only one proposal in response to this Appendix. Multiple submissions may result in all being deemed non-compliant. There is no limit on the number of proposals which may be submitted by an accredited U.S. university. 



Amount Description

NASA plans to make approximately 6-8 awards as a result of this Appendix, subject to the receipt of meritorious proposals and the availability of funds. The actual number of awards will depend on the quality of the proposals received; NASA reserves the right to make no awards under this Appendix. 

The maximum award duration will be three years, although proposals for less than three years are allowed. Initial funding will be for one year and subsequent funding will be contingent on the availability of funds, technical progress, and continued relevance to NASA goals. Annual continuation reviews are required. 

The typical annual award value is $200K; smaller amounts may be proposed. The amount in any year may not exceed $220K and is subject to a maximum limit of $600K for three years. All amounts must be justified.

Funding Type



Junior Faculty
Women and minorities encouraged


Engineering and Physical Sciences

External Deadline

March 25, 2020