Early last month NASA chose 18 teams to recieve Phase I and II funding from the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. From new methods for doing sample-return to more reliable life-support systems the teams have proposed a varied selection of technologies that will aid future NASA missions. The award for a Phase I project is $100,000 for one year and for Phase II projects is approximately $500,000 over two years.
Quick update on the new Red Colony: as I mentioned previously, I have been working on the forum. I completed the heavy lifting for it today and now am working on incorporating the new design that Alex has made into my now-working back-end. We're anticipating the integration to take a week. From there our plan is to do one to two weeks of internal testing. Once we're happy with the new site, we will ask a few people who have been keeping in contact with us to test it for a week. If that goes well, then we launch. Keep checking in, this is going to be happening soon!
One question many of you are probably asking is "why are they rewriting Red Colony?" The answer very simply boils down to that the current Red Colony was designed around the idea that Alex, Brian, and I (Jim) would be the only people that would ever need to do anything with the site. The new revision, amount many important improvements, will make it stupidly simple for us to delegate fine-grained control to trusted members of the community. This will help prevent stagnation of the site, and hopefully promote more community involvement.
Also, another important change is that we will, instead of curating articles and news, allow anyone to submit them to the site and have them appear in the fire hose. However, news and articles will have to be "approved" in order to appear on the front page. The hope is that we can find a balance between a fully curated site and a wiki-like site.
Another idea we're implementing in the new revision is have discussion integrated into article and news pages as well. We're hoping that in addition to the lively forum we had before, we can also encourage users to critique and debate ideas that someone or someones are proposing in an articles as well as new ideas brought up in news stories.
We are very excited about this new release, and a few other ideas for our organization. Alex and I cannot wait to see Red Colony bustling again!