For Researchers

One of our goals is to strengthen Maine’s STEM research capacity in areas mutually beneficial to NASA and Maine. Achieving this goal is made possible by two space grant activities (the Ideas Lab and the Innovation Seed Fund), and by leveraging financial support from NASA EPSCoR.


Eligible applicants for space grant funds include faculty and staff from higher education institutions and non-profit research institutions. Personnel from for-profit organizations are not eligible as applicants but could participate as co-principal investigators or senior personnel.

Ideas Lab

Modeled after the National Science Foundation’s Ideas Lab, the goal of the Ideas Lab is to identify and seed one or more strategic, novel, transformative, cost-effective, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional team-based R&D and education projects that align with the priorities of Mission Directorates and MSGC’s priority topic areas (see below). The Ideas Lab is an intensive, interactive and free-thinking environment, where a group of 15-25 researchers from a range of disciplines and backgrounds – many may not have prior significant interactions – gets together for 2 or 3 days to immerse themselves in collaborative thinking processes in order to construct innovative solutions and approaches for advancing Maine’s involvement in space exploration. Awards made as the result of the Ideas Lab will be high-risk/high impact as they represent foundations for positioning Maine as a center for excellence in space exploration and space technology in one or more topic areas critical to the development of the Complex. As these foundations grow, spinoff research opportunities will be identified and include additional collaborators within and outside of Maine.

The goal of the MSG Ideas Lab will be accomplished by encouraging the participation of researchers who may be outside of typical engineering and aerospace fields, e.g., scientists in the social, physical and biological sciences whose interests and expertise complement projects that are relevant to NASA/Complex. Engineering and aerospace disciplines will be part of the multidisciplinary project teams as appropriate. The Ideas Lab is also a means of encouraging the involvement of investigators at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs), who might otherwise not have the resources and/or time to pursue projects of suitable scope in isolation at their institutions. Finally, the MSG-Ideas Lab is an approach to leverage expertise in a wide variety of fields that could lead to expanded economic opportunities, on-going research (and funding from other sources), and ties to areas such as forestry and/or marine resource management, climate change action, etc., via such mechanisms as chemical analysis, remote sensing, etc., and development of off-shoots of the initial research focus.

Successful team-based proposals developed in the Ideas Lab will be expected to create opportunities for students in Affiliate universities, private colleges and community colleges, through hands-on work on exciting projects, for developing the necessary skills and experience needed to succeed in STEM careers. Outcomes of identified team-based projects include: (a) collaborations with NASA on projects that align both with the priorities of the Mission Directorates and the Complex’s topic areas; (b) compete for larger sponsored research awards from NASA and other federal agencies; (c) attract and leverage other federal or industry funding; (d) produce technologies that lead to commercial opportunities; (e) promote Maine leadership in emerging aerospace research, education, and technologies; (f) address workforce development issues; and (g) enhance the competitiveness of Maine colleges and universities and space industry. We will encourage ideas that demonstrate innovative activities to expand the participation of underrepresented groups, including students and faculty at Minority-Serving Institutions, in STEM disciplines.

Innovation Seed Fund

The goal of the Innovation Seed Fund is to seed one or more strategic, novel, transformative, cost-effective, multidisciplinary and novel research and education project teams identified in the Ideas Lab that align with the priorities of Mission Directorates and the Complex’s Topic Areas.  Awards made through this Fund will be high-risk/high impact as they represent foundations for positioning Maine as a center for excellence in space exploration and space technology in one or more topic areas critical to the development of the Complex.

Using a consensus-building process at the conclusion of the Ideas Lab, we will determine the number of proposals to fund and the amounts ranging from $25,000 to $100,000.  We will add funds to support at least 3 undergraduate and one graduate student to each funded project team. Each team proposal must include a process for announcing the opportunity to students and competitively selecting the students who must be U.S. citizens and enrolled full-time. The projects will be eligible for a second-year award based on performance, other proposals that are identified in subsequent Ideas Labs, and the availability of space grant funds. We will conduct an annual review to assess progress and milestones achieved and potential funding in the second year.

The Ideas Lab is managed on our behalf by Dr. Ali Abedi at the University of Maine. We maintain control over the Innovation Seed Fund and disburse the funds based on the proposals coming out of the Ideas Lab and approved by Dr. Abedi. If you are interested in participating in the Ideas Lab and accessing financial support for your research from the Innovation Seed Fund, please contact Melinda Pellitier at the University of Maine at or


The NASA Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993, Public Law 102-588, and its Reauthorization Act of 2017 (Public Law 114-329 Section 103) authorizes NASA to initiate NASA EPSCoR to strengthen the research capability of jurisdictions that have not historically participated equably in competitive aerospace research activities. The goal of NASA EPSCoR is to provide funding that will enable jurisdictions to develop a research enterprise directed toward long-term, self- sustaining, nationally competitive capabilities in aerospace and aerospace-related research. This capability will, in turn, contribute to the jurisdiction’s economic viability and expand the nation’s base for aerospace research and development.

The following are the specific objectives of NASA EPSCoR:

  • Contribute to and promote the development of research capability in NASAEPSCoR jurisdictions in areas of strategic importance to the NASA mission;
  • Improve the capabilities of the NASA EPSCoR jurisdictions to gain support from sources outside the NASA EPSCoR program;
  • Develop partnerships among NASA research assets, academic institutions, and industry; and
  • Contribute to the overall research infrastructure and economic development of the jurisdiction.

Each funded NASA EPSCoR proposal is expected to establish research activities that will make significant contributions to NASA’s strategic research and technology development priorities and contribute to the overall research infrastructure, science and technology capabilities of higher education, and economic development of the jurisdiction receiving funding. Based on the availability of funding, NASA will continue to help jurisdictions achieve these goals through NASA EPSCoR. Funded jurisdictions’ proposals shall be selected through a merit-based, peer-review competition. Proposals will be evaluated by the Mission Directorate offices that are involved in this effort and accepted by the NASA EPSCoR Project Office.

To achieve its goal, NASA EPSCoR developed the following programs:

Eligible applicants for NASA EPSCoR funds include faculty and staff from higher education institutions and non-profit research institutions. Personnel from for-profit organizations are not eligible as applicants but could participate as co-principal investigators or senior personnel.

MSGC Priority Topic Areas

For space grant and NASA EPSCoR programs, we will consider all meritorious STEM and non-STEM proposals that align with NASA’s research priorities and one or more of the technology sectors of the Maine Technology Institute. However, for proposals that review the same, preference will be given to those that also align with MSGC’s priority topic areas.

Topic Area Mission Directorate NASA Center
Big Data & Analytics and Data Management HEOMD LRC, ARC, GSFC, JPL
Quantum Computing & Storage HEOMD GSFC, ARC
Ground Communication HEOMD KSC, MSFC, JSC, JPL, GSFC
CubeSat & Constellation Design STMD GSFC, ARC, MSFC
Vehicle and payload integration HEOMD, STMD KSC
Launch services HEOMD KSC, GRC, GSFC, SSC, MSFC, JPL
Navigation & Tracking HEOMD, STMD GSFC, MSFC, GRC, JPL, MSFC
Geospatial Informatics and remote sensing STMD GSFC, JPL, LRC
Communications HEOMD JSC, GRC, JPL
Small launch vehicles, components, subsystems manufacturing. HEOMD, STMD LRC, KSC, MSFC, GRC, JSC, JPL
Satellite manufacturing STMD MSFC, KSC, JPL, LRC


* Mission Directorates: HEOMD (Human Exploration and Operations); STMD (Space Technology); SMD (Science). ** NASA Centers: GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center); JSC (Johnson Space Center); KSC (Kennedy Space Center); MSFC (Marshall Space Flight Center); JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory); SSC (Stennis Space Center); LRC (Langley Research Center); ARC (Ames Research Center); GRC (Glenn Research Center).


MSGC GRANT PROPOSAL GUIDELINES:  Researchers and faculty proposing to our programs should download and review MSGC Grant proposal guidelines update 9_2018 A summary of MSGC and NASA’s goals, objectives and research priorities for each of the Mission Directorates and NASA Centers are included in these guidelines.

Writeable forms to download

LOI –  Letter of Intent  template here – For All Programs requiring a LOI

Appendix B Cover Page – For EPSCoR RID Program

Appendix C Project Summary – For EPSCoR RID Program

Appendix D Budget Summary – For EPSCoR RID Program


Don’t forget to visit our EPSCoR page for the most recent updates and solicitations


Faculty Research Seed Grant Program (FRSG)

Collaboration With Minority Serving Institutions Program (CMSI)