NASA Gives a Financial Boost to In-Space Welding Projects

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA selected two projects for funding focused on developing in-space welding technologies as part of its recent round of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards.

The space agency selected Busek Company of Natick, Mass., and Made in Space of Jacksonville, Fla., for phase 1 awards worth up to $125,000 apiece for six months.

“Busek proposes to initiate the development of a semi-autonomous, teleoperated welding robot for joining of external (or internal metallic uninhabited volume at zero pressure) surfaces in space,”according to the proposal summary. “This welding robot will be an adaptation of a versatile Busek developed system called SOUL (Satellite On Umbilical Line) with a suitable weld head attached to it.

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NASA Funds Made in Space’s Mobile Welding Project

Made in Space (MIS) will pursue the development of a space laser welding system with the help of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“MIS proposes to develop a Mobile End-effector Laser Device (MELD) capable of on-site, on-demand joining and repair of space structures. MELD is a self-sufficient end-effector that interfaces with a robotic arm and uses the arm for mobility,” the company said in its proposal summary.

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NASA Selects In-Space and Advanced 3-D Manufacturing Technologies for Funding

NASA is continuing to encourage the use of 3-D manufacturing technologies for use on Earth and in space through the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

In addition to funding two projects by Made in Space focused on glass alloys and structures for advanced interferometery missions, the space agency also selected six other additive manufacturing proposals for funding under SBIR Phase II.

The awards, which are worth up to $750,000 for as long as two years, are focused on expanding additive manufacturing (AM) to include the use of stronger plastics and metals as well plastics recycling and improving production on Earth. One company is developing the ability to print next-generation electronics aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Several of the proposals are developing materials and technologies that would be used in a new additive manufacturing system called FabLab that NASA will launch to the station. The new printer would use multiple materials instead of just plastic feed stock to print parts and tools.

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Made in Space Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

Made in Space will continue to pursue the development of advanced glass alloys and 3-D manufactured structures for space interferometry missions under a pair of contract awards from NASA.

The space agency selected the additive-manufacturing company for awards under phase II of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The contracts are worth a maximum of $750,000 apiece for up to two years.

“The next step in the industrialization of LEO is the formulation of base materials, such as specialty glasses, that can be refined into higher value products in microgravity,” the company said in a summary of its proposal. “The Glass Alloy Manufacturing Machine (GAMMA) is an experimental system designed to investigate how these materials form without the effects of gravity-induced flows and inform process improvements for commercial product development.”

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Made In Space, Inc. Announces Manufacturing System for Smallsat Interferometry

Optimast-SCI (Credit: Made in Space)

MOFFETT FIELD, CA, April 8, 2019 (Made In Space PR) — Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) announced today that it is developing an in-space manufacturing system to enable precision long-baseline interferometry missions. This technology, known as Optimast-SCI (Structurally Connected Interferometer) equips an ESPA-class small satellite with the company’s extended structure manufacturing technology. It enables the deployment of a 20-meter optical boom interferometer with modular internal optics bench developed with Lowell Observatory, a world leader in astronomical optical interferometry.

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Made In Space Completes Ground-based Manufacturing & Assembly Testing for Archinaut Program

Archinaut manufacturing and assembly unit enters the Thermal Vacuum Chamber (TVAC) at teammate Northrop Grumman’s facility in Redondo Beach, Calif. TVAC simulates the thermal and pressure environment of low Earth orbit. (Credit: Made in Space)

MOFFETT FIELD, CA, March 12, 2019 (Made in Space PR) — As part of a NASA Tipping Point contract, Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) has reached a significant milestone for their Archinaut program by successfully demonstrating its additive manufacturing and robotic assembly capabilities in a space-like environment.

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NanoRacks Announces Industry Team Supporting NASA LEO Commercialization Proposal

BREMEN, Germany, October 2, 2018 (NanoRacks PR) — In August 2018, NanoRacks was one of 13 companies selected by NASA to study the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit, including long-range opportunities for the International Space Station.

Today, NanoRacks is pleased to share the expansive industry team that the Company will be working with to complete this study and show the viability of commercial habitats (“Outposts”) in low-Earth orbit and the future of International Space Station commercial utilization.
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Made In Space Expands via Luxembourg into Europe to Serve Worldwide Community of Customers

LUXEMBOURG CITY, LUXEMBOURG September 27, 2018 (Made in Space PR) – Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) to open a new facility in Luxembourg which will enable the company to more easily serve its European customers. MIS’s Luxembourg operations will focus on bringing low-cost robotic systems to the European market. Luxembourg was a strategically chosen location due to its proximity to both excellent robotics talent and successful European aerospace companies.

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Made In Space, CubeRover & Hydrosat Establish Operations in Luxembourg

Étienne Schneider, alongside Marc Serres, CEO Luxembourg Space Agency and Jason Dunn, Founder & Director Made In Space during the press conference. (Credit: Luxembourg Space Agency)

LUXEMBOURG CITY (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) — The arrival of Made In Space, Hydrosat and CubeRover further widens the spectrum of activates of the Luxembourg business-oriented space ecosystem and reinforces the Luxembourg space capabilities.

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Space Adventures Selected to Participate in NASA’s Study for the Commercialization of Low-Earth Orbit

VIENNA, Va., August 23, 2018 (Space Adventures PR) — NASA recently announced that Space Adventures, the only company to have delivered private human spaceflight missions to the International Space Station (ISS), was one of 13 companies selected to study the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit (LEO).

The purpose of the study is to inform NASA’s strategy for enabling the commercialization of human spaceflight in LEO and NASA’s long-term requirements for the ISS. In December, Space Adventures will submit recommendations to NASA on how to quantify the LEO market opportunity, evaluate technical concepts for low-cost habitation, and describe a viable and sustainable business case in LEO.

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NASA Selects 3 Small Business Projects Focused on ISS Utilization

NASA astronaut and Expedition 47 Flight Engineer Jeff Williams works with the WetLab-2 system aboard the International Space Station.  (Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected three proposals focused on the utilization of the International Space Station (ISS) under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program.

NanoSonic wants to demonstrate the production of photovoltaic cells and arrays aboard the station. Made in Space’s proposal is focused on production of glass alloys in microgravity. IRPI wants to demonstrate a system for better handling liquids for life support and other uses.

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Made in Space Eyes Glass Alloy Production & Modular Science Platforms in Orbit

Made in Space (MIS) will develop systems for the production of glass alloys in microgravity, the assembly and refurbishment of modular platforms in orbit, and the in-space manufacturing of large structures for infrared space interferometry missions with the help of NASA funding.

The three projects were among five Made in Space proposals that NASA selected for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program. Each contract is worth up to $125,000 over 13 months.

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Made In Space to Bid on Phase II of Archinaut Development Program

Archinaut servicing satellite (Credit: Made in Space)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., May 17, 2018 (Made in Space PR) — NASA has invited Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) to submit a proposal for a technology flight demonstration mission (Phase II) of its Archinaut technology. Archinaut is an in-space robotic manufacturing and assembly platform capable of constructing space-optimized systems of sizes not previously feasible. NASA’s Space Technology and Mission Directorate (STMD) awarded MIS its initial Archinaut contract in 2016. Since that time, MIS has made significant advancements in space-capable extended structure additive manufacturing and robotic assembly.

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NASA Selects Advanced Manufacturing Projects for SBIR Contracts

NASA has selected four advanced manufacturing projects for funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II program.

Ultratech Machinery, Made in Space, Supercool Metals and Intelligent Optical Systems were selected for two-year contracts worth up to $750,000 apiece. Each company received funding for its project under the first phase of the SBIR program.

Ultratech Machinery is being funded to develop a multi-material, ultrasonic additive manufacturing (3D printing) laboratory for use aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

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Made in Space Selected for 2 NASA SBIR Awards

NASA has selected two proposals from Made in Space focused on producing advanced crystals and high-strength components for funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Each two-year Phase II is worth up to $750,000.

The Industrial Crystallization Facility (ICF) would produce “nonlinear optical single crystals and other relatively large material formulations, such as bulk single-crystal thin films and high temperature optical fiber,” according to the proposal.

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