NASA Space Act Agreements with Virgin Galactic, Moon Express, NanoRacks and More

NASA has released a document listing the 1,206 active Space Act Agreements  (SAAs) the agency has with commercial companies, non-profit organizations and state and local governments.

From that list, I’ve extracted agreements with individual companies. Below you will find tables listing SAAs that NASA has signed with Virgin Group companies, Moon Express and NanoRacks. There is also a fourth table that has SAAs with a number of companies and organizations that we follow on Parabolic Arc.

SAAs come in three varieties: reimburseable, non-reimburseable and funded. Under reimburseable agreements, a company or organization will pay NASA for its services. No money exchanges hands under non-reimburseable agrements. And under funded agreements, NASA pays the company to perform work or provide services. (The space agency made substantial use of SAA’s in the Commercial Crew Program.)

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Ad Astra Completes NextSTEP Milestones for Year Two

WEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra PR) — Ad Astra Rocket Company has successfully completed all contract milestones and deliverables for the second of its three-year Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) contract with NASA. The 9 million dollar, fixed-price contract remains on schedule and on budget. After a successful year-two performance review at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. on July 24, 2017 and completion of a 10-hour cumulative test of the 200SSTM rocket at 100kW, Ad Astra received NASA approval to proceed with year-three activities.

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House to Hold Hearing on In-Space Propulsion


House of Representatives

Space Subcommittee Hearing

In-Space Propulsion: Strategic Choices and Options
Date: Thursday, June 29, 2017 – 10:00am
Location: 2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Hearing Purpose
NASA is pursuing several in-space propulsion technologies to advance not only human exploration, but also uncrewed spacecraft operations. The hearing will explore NASA’s current portfolio of investments in in-space propulsion technologies, the state of the various technologies, and how they fit into future space architectures.

Witnesses

  • Mr. William Gerstenmaier — Associate Administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, NASA
  • Mr. Stephen Jurczyk — Associate Administrator, Space Technology Mission Directorate, NASA
  • Dr. Mitchell Walker — Chair, Electric Propulsion Technical Committee, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
  • Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz — Founder and CEO, Ad Astra Rocket Company
  • Mr. Joe Cassady — Executive Director for Space, Washington Operations, Aerojet Rocketdyne
  • Dr. Anthony Pancotti — Director of Propulsion Research, MSNW LLC

Ad Astra Rocket Company Completes First Year NextSTEP Milestones

ad_astraWEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra Rocket Co. PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company has successfully completed all milestones and deliverables for the first of its three-year Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) contract with NASA. The $9 million-dollar, fixed price agreement, is structured as a one-year contract with two additional one-year extensions, based on successful completion of project milestones. After a successful year-one performance review, Ad Astra received NASA approval to proceed with year-two activities.

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Ad Astra, NASA Complete Negotiations on NextSTEP Partnership Program

ad_astraWEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company and NASA have successfully completed contract negotiations on the company’s Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) award, announced on March 31, 2015, and now enter the execution phase of the project.

The parties executed the contract, a three-year, fixed price agreement, on August 7, 2015 for a total value of just over $9 million. The agreement is structured as a one-year contract with two additional one-year extensions based on the accomplishment of mutually agreed upon progress milestones.

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Wins NASA Propulsion Contract

A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)
A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

WEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company has been selected by NASA as one of the winners of the space agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) competitive solicitation, which opened in November of 2014. The official announcement was made by NASA on March 30.

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NASA Announces 12 NextSTEP Partnerships

NASA LOGOWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Building on the success of NASA’s partnerships with commercial industry to date, NASA has selected 12 Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) to advance concept studies and technology development projects in the areas of advanced propulsion, habitation and small satellites.

Through these public-private partnerships, selected companies will partner with NASA to develop the exploration capabilities necessary to enable commercial endeavors in space and human exploration to deep-space destinations such as the proving ground of space around the moon, known as cis-lunar space, and Mars.

“Commercial partners were selected for their technical ability to mature key technologies and their commitment to the potential applications both for government and private sector uses,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters. “This work ultimately will inform the strategy to move human presence further into the solar system.”

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Zubrin Challenges Chang Diaz to Debate Over Mars Exploration, VASIMR Engine

Mars_Soil
There seems to be a trend of prominent space experts challenging each other to debates.

First, New Horizons Supremo Alan Stern challenged Neil deGrasse Tyson to debate whether Pluto should be restored to planetary status. Stern, whose mission will explore Pluto next year, believes it should be elevated from dwarf planet status. Tyson, the driving force behind Pluto’s demotion, refused to debate the subject.

Now, it’s Robert Zubrin’s turn. The Mars Society president has challenged Ad Astra Rocket Company Founder Franklin Chang-Diaz to a debate over how to best explore Mars. Near as I can tell from the press release, it would give Zubrin a chance to demonstrate that Ad Astra’s plasma-based VASIMR engine, which Chang Diaz is promoting for rapid trips to Mars, is pretty much a fraud.

Wow, who could turn down an invitation like that?

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Ad Astra Signs $400K Deal on Hydrogen Technology Development

ad_astraLiberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (Ad Astra PR) — Ad Astra Rocket Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ad Astra Rocket Company, Costa Rica, SRL (Ad Astra, CR) and Costa Rica’s state-owned Petroleum Refinery, RECOPE, have signed a US$400,000 contract setting forth the next phase of their ongoing collaboration in hydrogen technology development. The agreement was signed by Litleton Bolton Jones, President of the Board of RECOPE and Franklin Chang Díaz, Ad Astra’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. The partnership, which was formed in 2010, is exploring the operational viability of a hydrogen-based transportation infrastructure in Costa Rica, the primary goal of which is to reduce the nation’s reliance on imported oil. Hydrogen is a clean, renewable fuel that can be produced from water by wind and/or solar energy.

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Ad Astra, NASA Agree to Continue Work on VASIMR Engine

A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)
A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

HOUSTON, Texas (Ad Astra PR) -– Ad Astra Rocket Company and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have signed an Umbrella Space Act Agreement to continue the parties’ collaboration in the development of the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket engine (VASIMR®).

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Launches Clean Hydrogen Energy Project

Ad_Astra_Hydrogen_Project_Collage
Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (Ad Astra PR) –
Ad Astra Rocket Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ad Astra Servicios Energéticos y Ambientales, Costa Rica, SRL (AASEA), in partnership with Costa Rica’s state-owned Petroleum Refinery, RECOPE, unveiled today the country’s first hydrogen generation and storage facility, a pilot project focusing on clean, renewable energy with applications in the transportation sector.

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Elects New Director

ad_astraHouston, TX (Ad Astra PR) – Former Cummins Inc. (CMI, NYSE) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Theodore “Tim” Solso, an internationally-renowned technology and business leader, has been elected to the Board of Directors of Ad Astra Rocket Company. The vote was cast by the Corporation’s shareholders at their 2013 annual meeting on November 12, 2013, held at the Company’s Texas Headquarters near Houston. Solso’s election accompanies that of eight Directors who compose the nine-member Board. He becomes the 9th member to join the top leadership of the Company. His term begins immediately. All Ad Astra board members are elected annually.

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Former U.S. Ambassador Elected to Ad Astra Rocket Company’s Board

Members of the Ad Astra Houston team welcomed Ambassador Andrew (center) on October 2, 2013, during her first tour of the company’s U.S. facility as a member of the Ad Astra Board of Directors. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)
Members of the Ad Astra Houston team welcomed Ambassador Andrew (center) on October 2, 2013,
during her first tour of the company’s U.S. facility as a member of the Ad Astra Board of Directors. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

Houston, TX (Ad Astra PR) – Former US Ambassador to Costa Rica, Anne Slaughter Andrew, a distinguished attorney, entrepreneur and environmentalist has been elected to the Board of Directors of Ad Astra Rocket Company. The unanimous vote was cast Friday, September 27, 2013, at Ad Astra’s Texas corporate headquarters near Houston during the board’s fourth scheduled meeting of 2013. Ambassador Andrew, a native of Evansville, Indiana, becomes the 8th member of the Ad Astra board and the first female director to join the top leadership of the company. Her term begins immediately and she will stand for re-election at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in November. All Ad Astra board members are elected annually.

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Rocket Roundup: VASIMR Kickstarter, Ariane 6 Panned, RD-180 Replacement, and SpaceX at KSC

Ad Astra Launches VASMIR Kickstarter

Ad Astra has launched a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign to raise $46,000 for the creation of a short documentary called “Animating VASIMR®: The Future of Spaceflight.”

Falcon Heavy Launches from KSC?

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

Space News reports that SpaceX appears to be the only bidder to take over operations of PAD 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, which NASA used to launch space shuttles:

NASA declined to comment on how many bids it received in response to a solicitation that closed on July 5, but a survey of U.S. launch companies by SpaceNews shows only SpaceX saying it put in a proposal to take over Launch Complex 39A.

Documents posted on NASA’s solicitation website shows the agency wants to have a commercial operator for Pad 39A in place by Oct. 1, 2013, when funding for maintenance is slated for termination.

UPDATE: Space News now reports that Blue Origin put in a bid for Pad 39A.

DLR Chief on Ariane 6: Meh!

Artist's conception of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s conception of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

DLR Chairman Johann-Dietrich Woerner still really doesn’t like the plan for Ariane 6:

Johann-Dietrich Woerner, chairman of the German Aerospace Center, DLR, said the German government remains in favor of continued development of the current Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket, with possible evolutions including environmentally acceptable new fuels in place of the vehicle’s current solid-rocket boosters.

“The solution selected seems to be the most workable in terms of costs, but from an environmental point of view we are really taking a step backward,” Woerner said. “But my main point is: What is this launcher for? Is it to make life easy for commercial satellite operators, or is it to assure European launcher autonomy? If it’s the latter, then there are lots of ways of meeting this objective.”

I Can’t Quit You

RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)
RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)

Efforts to develop a domestic alternative to the Russian RD-180 engine that powers the Atlas V are stuck in second gear.

The buy-international model works so well that even an executive with the company working on an American alternative to the RD-180 — which has powered 43 flawless space launches since it made its U.S. debut on Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 3 rocket in 2000 — does not see much urgency on anyone’s part to bring such an engine to market.

“We don’t see a good business case for a pure commercial development of one of these engines,” Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of space programs at Sacramento, Calif.-based Aerojet Rocketdyne, told SpaceNews in a July 9 phone interview. “Not today.”

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Completes PDR for New Engine

ad_astraHOUSTON, TX (Ad Astra PR) – After more than a year of planning and preparation, a team of Ad Astra engineers and physicists, along with NASA engineers participating as part of a technical interchange, completed the company’s first formal preliminary design review (PDR) of the VF-200 engine. The 200 kW “proto-flight” is the company’s first engine planned to be tested in space. The review was conducted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at Ad Astra’s research facility near Houston, TX.

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