Project HOPE

Project HOPE

HOPE Training Program

Project Hands-On Project Experience (HOPE) is a cooperative workforce development program sponsored by the Academy and the Science Mission Directorate. The HOPE Training Program provides an opportunity for a team of early-entry NASA employees to propose, design, develop, build, and launch a suborbital flight project over the course of 18 months. The purpose of the program is to enable practitioners in the early years of their careers to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to manage NASA’s future flight projects. The Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters manages the program.


The call for HOPE proposals are distributed as a Training Opportunity (TO) by NASA center chief technologists and chief scientists, typically in the third quarter of each fiscal year. Interested NASA employees should respond to the TO in a timely manner to be considered for the program.

View the 2015 HOPE-5 TO.

For general questions about participation, please contact David Pierce.

Past Projects

Radiation Dosimetry Experiment (RaD-X)
Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center – Selected in 2013.

The Radiation Dosimetry Experiment (RaD-X) will obtain the first-ever, high-altitude dosimetric measurements of cosmic ray interaction in the upper atmosphere, while combining Langley Research Center’s (LaRC) unique capabilities in space weather applications, radiation effects on air transportation, and microsatellite development to create a low-risk, high-fidelity mission that directly addresses NASA’s Living With A Star programmatic goals. Public and private entities currently use NASA’s Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS) model for informed decision-making about radiation exposure safety for flight crews, the general public, and commercial space operations. RaD-X will improve NAIRAS by obtaining data to perform verification and validation activities enhancing this vital capability. The project will also strengthen microsatellite development at LaRC. The RaD-X microsatellite structure developed at LaRC will fly on a scientific research balloon for 24 hours at approximately 36 km (~120,000 ft). The flight will validate low-cost sensors for future missions and will provide data to improve the health and safety of all future commercial and military aircrews that transit the poles.

High Energy Replicated Optics to Explore the Sun (HEROES)
Goddard Space Flight Center and Marshall Space Flight Center – Selected in 2011 and flown in 2013.

The High Energy Replicated Optics to Explore the Sun (HEROES) project is a balloon-borne hard X-ray telescope that is intended to observe solar flares with 100 times better sensitivity and 50 times more dynamic range than the best solar observations to date. This novel instrument will also provide new views (improved angular resolution and sensitivity) of hard X-ray astrophysical targets. The HEROES team, which includes civil servants at both Marshall Space Flight Center and Goddard Space Flight Center, is working to modify and fly the HEROES telescope to perform solar observations while taking advantage of nighttime for astrophysical observations. This effort takes advantage of the experience at MSFC gained from past flights as well as the experience at GSFC to develop instrumentation for solar observations and perform quality solar data analysis. It also paves the way for future generations of both solar and astrophysics space-borne hard X-ray imager missions and the scientists and engineers to support them.

Development and Evaluation of Satellite Validation Tools by Experimenters (DEVOTE)
Langley Research Center – Selected in 2010 and flown in 2011.

The DEVOTE project successfully achieved its science goals of: enabling evaluation of next-generation satellite retrievals focusing on the ACE Decadal Survey Mission, developing an in situ measurement platform that would be available for frequent and relatively low cost flights, developing advanced instruments, and comparing measurements to satellite and ground based instruments. By the project’s end, the DEVOTE team has successfully completed all planned modifications to the aircraft enabling both in situ and remote sensing platforms, flown 12 science flights for over 69 hours, and successfully completed all of its science and training objectives. Visit the team’s website to learn more.

Coastal and Ocean Airborne Science Testbed (COAST)
Ames Research Center – Selected in 2010 and flown in 2011.

The COAST mission took place October 21-28, 2011 over Monterey Bay, California, successfully culminating the Hands-On Project Experience project at Ames Research Center. The team executed the first-of-its-kind airborne mission by integrating and flying simultaneously three instruments in the testbed: the AATS sunphotometer, Headwall imaging spectrometer, and, for the first time, the C-AIR radiometers. The instrument suite obtained data during the mission coincident with measurements from MODIS and MERIS satellite sensors, measurements from a research vessel, and a small set of ground calibration sites. Visit the team’s website to learn more.

Terrain-Relative Navigation and Employee Development (TRaiNED)
Jet Propulsion Laboratory – Selected in 2009 and flown in 2010.

On April 5, 2006, an initial development test was conducted onboard a sounding rocket flight (41.068) which collected analog ground imagery during the descent portion of the rocket’s trajectory and IMU and GPS data from launch to landing. This data was then used to further develop and test Terrain-Relative Navigation (TRN) computer algorithms. The TRaiNED project is the next step in the development of this new technology. As a second developmental test flight TRaiNED builds upon the first flight by expanding the data set to include exo-atmospheric imagery in addition to descent imagery. Key members from the 41.068 team are acting as mentors for the TRaiNED team and will assist with the design, fabrication, and testing of the payload. The team’s intent is to use as much heritage design as possible.


Explore past stories about HOPE projects.

HOPE Training Program Virtual Workshops

(Click image above to view content. Accessible to NASA employees only.)

Watch a video case study of the TRaiNED team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Click to view full photo gallery on Flickr.

Back to Top