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).


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.


Made in Space Sets Guinness World Record

Hanging beam (Credit: Made in Space)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., February 22, 2018 — Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) has been making large strides recently in proving its space-capable technologies and, in doing so, has earned a Guinness Book World Record for the “World’s Longest 3D Printed non-assembled Piece.”


Fast Company Selects Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space

Fast Company has released its annual list of the most innovative companies for 2018. The 10 top innovators in the space industry are shown above.

I’m a bit surprised by Stratolaunch landing at no. 10. The aircraft is impressive; I’ve seen it in person outside, and it’s positively Spruce Goosian in its size and ambition. And I’ve been on tarmacs walking around a 747 and an A380, which are also very large airplanes.

That being said, the reality is that the only rocket it available to launch is a Pegasus, whose primary launch aircraft is Orbital ATK’s 44-year old L-1011 that’s parked just down the flight line from the Stratolaunch hangar. They’re working on developing a larger booster for the giant aircraft, so maybe Stratolaunch will be as innovative as Fast Company believes it is at some point. Never say never.

It just seems that Burt Rutan got focused on building the coolest flying vehicle he could while the whole issue of the rocket was not as well thought through. A similar thing happened with SpaceShipTwo, contributing to years of delay.

The other thing is I heard last fall is the Stratolaunch aircraft might not fly until sometime well into next year. So, it could be a while before we see how well that thing actually performs in flight.

A Look Back at the Space Year That Was

Total solar eclipse photographed from NASA Armstrong’s Gulfstream III. (Credit: (NASA/Carla Thomas)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

I realize it’s a bit late, but here’s a look back at the major developments in space in 2017.

I know that I’m probably forgetting something, or several somethings or someones. Fortunately, I have eagle-eyed readers who really seem to enjoy telling me just how much I’ve screwed up. Some of them a little too much….

So, have at it!  Do your worst, eagle-eyed readers!


Science & Technology Experiments Returned on Dragon

Dragon capsule after recovery. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, Jan. 13, west of Baja California, with approximately 4,100 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.

The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to Long Beach, California, where some cargo will be removed immediately for return to NASA. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for final processing.


NASA Sends Critical Science, Instruments to Space Station

Falcon 9 carries the Dragon cargo ship into orbit. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX launched its Dragon spacecraft into orbit for its 13th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station on Friday morning. Dragon was lifted into orbit atop the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida carrying crew supplies, equipment and scientific research to crew members living and working aboard the station.

This science-heavy flight will deliver investigations and facilities that study and/or measure solar irradiance, materials, orbital debris and more.


Space Florida, Made In Space Forge Financing Agreement

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACEPORT, December 11, 2017 (Space Florida PR) – In 2017, Space Florida forged a first-of-its-kind financing agreement with innovative in-space manufacturing company, Made In Space (MIS), Inc.

With operations in Jacksonville, Florida and in Silicon Valley, MIS is a market leader in the growing segment of in-space manufacturing. MIS products are utilized both in space and on Earth, and the company was the first to manufacture hardware off the planet.


MakerSat-0 CubeSat To Provide Years of In-Orbit Test Data on 3D-Printed Spacecraft Materials

MakerSat-0 student team (Credit: Made in Space)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., Nov. 6, 2017 — The MakerSat-0 CubeSat, designed by students at Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) and Caldwell High School in Idaho, is scheduled to launch into space aboard a Delta II rocket Friday, Nov. 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The experimental CubeSat is carrying electronics that will, for the first time in history, collect real-time data on the effects of the harsh environment of space on 3D-printed polymer materials. Test data will be collected continually for the next several years on half-gram samples of four materials: ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), PLA (Poly Lactic Acid), nylon, and PEI/PC (polyetherimide/polycarbonate) ULTEM.


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.)


Archinaut Project Conducts First Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing Build in Space-like Environment

Archinaut project manager Eric Joyce, left, and fellow Made In Space engineer Deejay Riley fine-tune the Extended Structure Additive Manufacturing Machine — the core of the project’s innovative, in-space 3-D printing capability — during thermal vacuum testing at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. (Credit: NASA/Made in Space)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (NASA PR) — Archinaut, a NASA Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) project developing cutting-edge technology to build and assemble complex hardware and supersized structures on demand in space, achieved an unprecedented milestone this summer.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time additive manufacturing has been successfully tested on such a large scale in the vacuum and temperature conditions of space,” said Eric Joyce, Archinaut project manager for Made In Space Inc. of Mountain View, California, which spearheads the project for NASA.


Made in Space Selected for 3 NASA Small Business Awards

International Space Station Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore shows off a ratchet wrench made with a 3-D printer on the station. (Image Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected Made in Space for three small business awards aimed at manufacturing high precision metal components,  industrial crystals, and advanced sensors and actuators in space.


Luxembourg to Launch a Fund Offering Financial Support for Space Resources Industry

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Government PR – To promote Luxembourg as a European hub for the exploration and commercial use of space resources, the Ministry of the Economy conducted from April 9th to April 13th an economic mission headed by Luxembourg’s Crown Prince to the U.S. West Coast. The mission aimed to identify and develop new business opportunities and to promote the governmental initiative that offers an attractive overall framework for space resource utilization related activities, including but not limited to the legal regime to provide private companies and investors with a secure legal environment as of the ownership of resources gathered in space.


Cruz to Hold Commercial Space Hearing Next Week

Sen. Ted Cruz

WASHINGTON (Senate Science Committee PR) – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will convene a hearing titled “Reopening the American Frontier: Reducing Regulatory Barriers and Expanding American Free Enterprise in Space” at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 26, 2017.

This hearing will examine the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act signed into law in November 2015, potential regulatory barriers to address in future legislation, and ways to expand commercial opportunities for American firms in space.


•    Mr. Robert Bigelow, Founder, Bigelow Aerospace
•    Mr. Rob Myerson, President, Blue Origin
•    Mr. George Whitesides, CEO, Virgin Galactic
•    Mr. Andrew Rush, CEO, Made in Space

* Witness list subject to change

Hearing Details:

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
10:00 a.m.
Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness

This hearing will take place in Russell Senate Office Building, Room 253. Witness testimony, opening statements, and a live video of the hearing will be available on

Axiom, Made in Space Announce Agreement for Manufacturing in Orbit

made_in_space_logoHOUSTON, Jan. 18, 2017 9 (Axiom Space PR) — Made In Space and Axiom Space today, announce an agreement to be users and providers of one another’s capabilities to manufacture products in space. Made In Space is the only company to produce 3D printed products in Space and Axiom Space is the leading developer of the world’s first privately-owned commercial space station. This collaboration signifies Made In Space’s exciting transition from research phase, to manufacturing for commercial customers.