NASA iTech winners impress with tech ideas for use in space and on Earth


By Tom Gibson

Water-fueled satellites, 3D medical scans, and vibration resistant metal fasteners impressed judges at the NASA iTech competition this week in Mountain View, California. NASA iTech is an initiative to find and foster innovative solutions to challenges faced on Earth and in space. Ten finalists pitched their unique innovations at the competition’s 2019 Cycle I forum. NASA selected the top three teams after two days of presentations and collaborative sessions with technology experts. The three winners of NASA iTech’s 2019 Cycle I forum are:

  • Aris MD
    Wilmington, Delaware
    Three-dimensional medical scans. 
  • Enduralock, LLC​
    Lenexa, Kansas
    A new fastener that permanently locks with high vibration resistance, while providing reversibility and reusability.
  • Momentus, Inc.
    Santa Clara, California
    Spacecraft that use water as propellant to move satellites between different orbits.

Leaders from NASA and prospective stakeholders evaluated the finalists’ ideas submitted in the following focus areas: artificial intelligence and autonomous robotic capabilities, intelligent machines, force and tactile sensors, augmented and virtual reality advancements, and flexible materials. A final X-factor category included entries that may not fit within a specific focus area but clearly demonstrate the potential to fill a critical need for NASA and humans on Earth.

“At every NASA iTech forum, we are excited by the new ideas we receive from companies and entrepreneurs all over the world,” says Kira Blackwell, NASA iTech program executive for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “Congratulations to the top three winners for presenting technologies designed to solve challenges NASA faces while focusing on how the same technology has the potential to impact other sectors.”

NASA judges selected the top three innovations based on criteria including technical viability, likely impact on future space exploration, benefits to humanity, and commercialization potential. The winning teams received trophies during a recognition ceremony on July 11.

NASA iTech is an initiative by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate and is managed by the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Virginia. For information about NASA iTech, visit For information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit