51 U.S. Code § 70506 - Exploration technology research
The Administrator shall carry out a program of long-term exploration-related technology research and development, including such things as in-space propulsion, power systems, life support, and advanced avionics, that is not tied to specific flight projects. The program shall have the funding goal of ensuring that the technology research and development can be completed in a timely manner in order to support the safe, successful, and sustainable exploration of the solar system. In addition, in order to ensure that the broadest range of innovative concepts and technologies are captured, the long-term technology program shall have the goal of having a significant portion of its funding available for external grants and contracts with universities, research institutions, and industry.
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