NIAC Award: Ripcord Innovative Power System

Ripcord Innovative Power System (Credit: Noam Izenberg)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months

RIPS: Ripcord Innovative Power System
Noam Izenberg
Johns Hopkins University

Descent probe or lander power is a key resource for planetary exploration, and is a particular challenge where solar power is difficult to utilize efficiently and alternative power sources are expensive, risky, or complex. Short duration, battery powered probes have successfully landed and returned data from the surfaces of cloud-shrouded Venus.

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NASA Flight Opportunities Program Selects 15 Space Technologies for Tests

New Shepard booster over the landing pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has selected 15 promising space technologies to be tested on commercial low-gravity simulating aircraft, high-altitude balloons and suborbital rockets. These flights will help advance technologies for future spaceflight, taking them from the laboratory to a relevant flight environment.

During an Aug. 28 visit to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, where the Flight Opportunities program is managed, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency will focus on funding more of these payload flights in the future.

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Air Force Awards New Rocket Propulsion Contracts

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

Christmas came early last week for Aerojet Rocketdyne, Northrop Grumman and Orbital ATK as the U.S. Air Force awarded rocket propulsion contracts worth a combined $14.5 million to the companies on Dec. 23.

The contracts support “technology maturation and risk reduction” in the areas of material manufacturing and development and advanced technologies. The work supports the effort to transition away from the use of Russian-built RD-180 engines in United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V booster.

The Air Force has awarded a total of seven contracts totaling just under $17 million. A list of the contracts is below.

AWARDEEAMOUNT
Aerojet Rocketdyne $ 6,003,668
Northrop Grumman$ 5,465,705
ATK Launch Systems Inc. $ 3,125,810
Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering$    935,696
Tanner Research $    902,507
Moog Inc.$    728,337
Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering $    545,860
TOTAL: $16,979,246

NASA Selects 12 NIAC Phase I Projects for Funding

Titan submarine
Titan submarine

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact through pioneering technology development.

The selected proposals cover a wide range of imaginative concepts, including:

  • a submarine to explore the methane lakes of Titan;
  • using neutrinos to perform measurements for the icy moons of the outer planets; and,
  • a concept to safely capture a tumbling asteroid, space debris, and other applications.

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JHU APL to Study Moon, Asteroids as Part of New NASA Virtual Institute

NASA_SSERVI-LOGOLAUREL, Mary. (APL PR) — NASA has tapped the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., to look into the processes that shape the surfaces of the moon and asteroids — and provide insight into potential robotic and human exploration of these surfaces and the resources they might harbor.

As part of NASA’s new Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, APL space scientist Benjamin Bussey will head the Volatiles, Regolith and Thermal Investigations Consortium for Exploration and Science (VORTICES) team. VORTICES includes more than 40 co-investigators and collaborators from the U.S. and abroad, including the Homewood campus of the Johns Hopkins University. By combining the talents and facilities of different researchers at multiple institutions, the VORTICES team will tackle problems of interest to NASA’s science and human operations mission directorates.

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