In grad school, I became a big fan of NIAC (the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts) and the Office of the Chief Technologist. These wings of the NASA organization support research into far-flung, visionary technological concepts. They are the parts of NASA pushing for the kinds of research that will usher in the next generation of space exploration.
The new NIAC call for proposals is out. Interestingly, this time it includes a specific call for “citizen science.” So, if you’ve got some crazy ideas for spacecraft technology…why not try for it?