NASA Kentucky
Aerospace Research & Workforce

Aerospace Research

Microwave-generated plasma flows with working gases (a) air, (b) pure nitrogen, and (c) pure oxygen for atmospheric re-entry research. Credit: Plasma Diagnostics Lab, University of Kentucky.

Carbon FiberForm samples in a microwave-generated pure oxygen plasma (left) and an air plasma (right) at 0.5 atm. Credit: Plasma Diagnostics Lab, University of Kentucky.

Dr. Gerold Willing (left), University of Louisville, and Dr. Hemali Rathnayake (right, back), Western Kentucky University, are interacting with NASA scientists at Glenn Research Center to observe and provide feedback from real-time observation of the ACE-H2 advanced colloid experiments onboard the International Space Station.

Advancing Aerospace in Kentucky

The successful partnership between NASA KY and NASA is made possible by state support.  Participation in these programs offers Kentucky faculty access to NASA facilities and resources essential to advancing state research goals and providing opportunities for Kentucky students to work on leading national technology efforts, such as development of Orion – the next NASA astronaut spacecraft.

NASA KY 2017 Projects
NASA KY Aerospace Research Areas


The NASA Kentucky EPSCoR program partners with NASA to advance state and national aerospace initiatives in science and engineering. Kentucky higher education institutions participate under two NASA EPSCoR awards: the Research Infrastructure Development (RID) and Research Area (RA) programs.

Kentucky faculty secured $5.7 million in competitive research funding – over 25:1 return on investment (ROI) – after participating in the 2012-2015 RID.  34 faculty at 5 Kentucky universities led projects that advanced collaborations with 8 NASA Centers, including Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center, and Ames Research Center.  16 publications and over 50 talks and presentations at professional conferences have resulted.

Under the NASA EPSCoR RA program, Kentucky researchers make significant contributions to the NASA mission by directing an intensive research program in their specialty for a three-year period.  Kentucky researchers leverage state support to compete nationally with 26 EPSCoR states for awards from NASA.



The NASA KY Space Grant program offers Kentucky researchers seed investment in research initiation that can be used to build upon their expertise through two programs, the Research Initiation Award (RIA) and the Graduate Fellowship (GF).  RIA offers researchers a flexible funding program to become more familiar with NASA research programs and missions.  GF provides opportunity for Kentucky faculty to act as research advisor to a graduate student and direct focused studies in aerospace science and technology.

NASA KY Space Grant Program