Aethera’s New RF Power Processing Unit for Ad Astra’s VASIMR Engine Completes Full Power Acceptance Tests

WEBSTER, Texas USA and HALIFAX, NS, Canada – A new generation radio-frequency (RF) Power Processing Unit (PPU) for the VASIMR engine, built by Aethera Technologies Ltd. of Canada, has completed a series of full power acceptance tests at Ad Astra Rocket Company’s Texas facility near Houston. The unit completed these tests on August 12 by operating in a thermal steady-state with no anomalies at its full power rating of 120 kW.

The RF PPU is now ready to be incorporated into Ad Astra’s vacuum facility so that it can be tested with the VX- 200SS VASIMR prototype. These tests are part of Ad Astra’s ongoing program under the NASA NextSTEP partnership contract.

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Momentus Announces $25.5 Million Series A Funding Round

Vigoride (Credit: Momentus)

SANTA CLARA, Calif., July 17, 2019 (Momentus PR) — Momentus (http://www.momentus.space), a provider of in-space shuttle services that move satellites between orbits, today announced a $25.5mm series A investment round led by Prime Movers Lab and featuring investment from Y Combinator, the Lerner Family, the University of Wyoming Foundation, Quiet Capital, Mountain Nazca, ACE & Company, Liquid 2 Ventures, Drake Management, and others.

This round has brought the total investment amount for Momentus to $34MM. The investment will be used to continue development and in-space testing for Momentus’ Vigoride and Vigoride Extended in-space shuttles. The company also plans to accelerate hiring and expand research/manufacturing facilities at Momentus’ Santa Clara, CA headquarters.

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Masten Space Systems Selected for NASA SBIR Award

Mojave’s Masten Space Systems has been selected for a NASA contract to continue development of technology that will improve the 3-D manufacturing of rocket engine injectors.

Masten work on its PermiAM system will be funded under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award. The contract is worth up to $750,000.

“Masten is currently focusing on the propulsion elements of PermiAM with direct applicability to small satellite launch vehicles, upper stage engines, and planetary landers in support of the NASA [Commercial Lunar Payload Services] program,” the company said in its proposal summary.

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NIAC Phase II Award: Self-Guided Beamed Propulsion for Breakthrough Interstellar Missions

Self-guided beamed propulsion (Credit: Chris Limbach)

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program
Phase II Award: Up to $500,000 for 2 Years

Self-Guided Beamed Propulsion for Breakthrough Interstellar Missions
Chris Limbach
Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station

New and revolutionary propulsion systems are needed to undertake challenging long-distance missions, such as to the Kuiper belt, Oort cloud and nearby stellar systems. We propose an innovative beamed propulsion architecture that would enable interstellar missions to Proxima Centauri b at nearly 10% the speed of light.

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Boeing Invests in Accion Systems

CHICAGO, Oct. 10, 2018 (Boeing PR) — Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced its investment in Accion Systems Inc., a Boston, Mass.,-based startup pioneering scalable electric propulsion technology to transform satellite capabilities in and beyond Earth’s orbit.

Accion’s new Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray (TILE) in-space propulsion system aims to increase the lifespan and maneuverability of satellites and other vehicles in space. Leveraging a non-toxic, ionic liquid propellant and postage stamp-size thrusters, the TILE system is smaller, lighter and more cost-effective than traditional ion engines.

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NASA Selects Tethers Unlimited’s HYDROS-C Thruster for First PTD CubeSat Mission

BOTHELL, Wash. (Tethers Unlimited PR) — NASA has selected TUI’s HYDROS-C thruster for demonstration on the first Pathfinder Technology Demonstration (PTD) CubeSat mission, planned for launch in early 2019.

The HYDROS-C thruster, developed under a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract and matured to flight-readiness under a NASA Tipping Point Technologies Public-Private Partnership, is a revolutionary space propulsion technology that uses water as propellant.

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Astranis Selects Bradford’s ECAPS thrusters

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Bradford PR) — Astranis (www.astranis.com), the San Francisco-based company building the next generation of telecommunications satellites, announced today the selection of Bradford’s (www.bradford-space.com) high performance green ECAPS propulsion for the Astranis MicroGEO spacecraft. The selection slates the integration of eight ECAPS thrusters aboard each Astranis spacecraft, with an initial order for up to twelve spacecraft. The selection also included Electrical Propulsion (EP) feed systems and a set of 8 CoSine Sun Sensors, all produced by the Bradford Space group, involving both the Netherlands and Swedish locations.

This announcement marks the introduction of the ECAPS (www.ecaps.space) propulsion system to geostationary orbit activities, a domain typically dominated by very large telecommunications satellites needing long duration station-keeping capabilities. Traditionally, these satellites have used hydrazine-based thrusters, which are expensive to handle in the loading and pre-launch phase of a spacecraft’s preparation.

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Busek Company Selected for NASA Funding to Develop Spacecraft Advanced Propulsion

Busek Company will develop advanced CubeSat propulsion and Hall Effect thrusters (HETs) with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency has selected the Massachusetts-based company for five Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 awards. The contracts are worth up to $125,000 apiece over 13 months.

The three proposals focused on CubeSats and small satellites include:

  • a low impulse bit electrospray thruster control system;
  • a compact high performance plasma propulsion system (CHPPPS); and,
  • an iodine-compatible photocathode for RF ion thrusters.

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Deep Space Industries Raises $3.5 Million

SAN JOSE, Calif. (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries (DSI), a leading space technology company, announced today the closing of the first tranche of its Series A funding round. The company raised just over $3.5M from private investors. The funding will be used to develop MeteorTM, the company’s new launch-safe bipropellant rocket engine, and continue the ongoing development of the XplorerTM spacecraft, the company’s deep space exploration platform scheduled for launch in 2020.

“Deep Space Industries has rapidly developed a leadership position in the space technology market”, said Eric Uhrhane, one of several private investors in this round. “The propulsion and spacecraft technologies this team have developed over the last few years will dramatically lower the cost of access to deep space, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

The company recently announced two significant contracts for its water-based Comet propulsion systems for small satellites, and plans to release Meteor, its second-generation propulsion system, later in 2018.

“With the growing interest in our green propulsion systems, this funding round ensures that we’ll be able to meet customer demand, while also moving forward with our more advanced systems and spacecraft,” said Bill Miller, chief executive of DSI. “Our continued investor support is appreciated as we work to lower the cost of high performance missions in Earth orbit, and beyond.”

Deep Space Industries plans to launch the first private deep space mission in 2020, using its Xplorer spacecraft. This funding round allows the company to accelerate the development of this compact, affordable, and versatile exploration spacecraft that can be used for a wide range of scientific and commercial missions in Earth orbit, and throughout the inner solar system.

About Deep Space Industries

Deep Space Industries (DSI) is a Silicon Valley-based space technology company dedicated to making space resources available to fuel humankind’s expansion into space. DSI is developing a suite of technologies intended to dramatically lower the cost of undertaking high-performance missions in both Earth orbit and deep space. Its first commercial offerings have been low-cost, launch-safe propulsion systems, which are a key missing piece for a wide range of low-cost missions. DSI is headquartered in San Jose, California, with offices in Florida and Luxembourg. For more information, visit: www.DeepSpaceIndustries.com











NIAC Phase I Awards for Advanced Propulsion

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at three Phase I awards focused on advanced propulsion.

PROCSIMA: Diffractionless Beamed Propulsion for Breakthrough Interstellar Missions
Chris Limbach
Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station

Advanced Diffractive MetaFilm Sailcraft
Grover Swartzlander
Rochester Institute of Technology

Radioisotope Positron Propulsion
Ryan Weed
Positron Dynamics

Each award is worth up to $125,000 for a nine-month study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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NIAC Phase II Awards for Propulsion Projects


The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at the following three Phase II awards focused on advanced propulsion.

Mach Effect for In Space Propulsion: Interstellar Mission
James Woodward
Space Studies Institute, Inc.

A Breakthrough Propulsion Architecture for Interstellar Precursor Missions
John Brophy
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pulsed Fission-Fusion (PuFF) Propulsion Concept
Robert Adams
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

Each award is worth up to $500,000 for a two-year study. Descriptions of the awards are below.
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Deep Space Industries to Provide Comet Satellite Propulsion for BlackSky, LeoStella

SAN JOSE, Calif. (DSI PR) — Deep Space Industries (DSI) announced today that it has signed a contract to provide its Comet water-based satellite propulsion systems for the BlackSky Earth observation constellation of smallsats. DSI will provide an initial block of 20 water thrusters for the BlackSky satellites which are scheduled to start launching later this year.

This announcement comes on the heels of Spaceflight Industries’ recent $150 million funding and the development of LeoStella LLC, a joint venture between Spaceflight Industries and Thales Alenia Space. LeoStella is developing a Seattle-based facility to manufacture the low-cost, high-performance BlackSky satellites and is tasked with building the next 20 spacecraft with the Comet propulsion technology between now and 2020.

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NASA Invests in Shapeshifters, Biobots & Other Visionary Technology


WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is investing in technology concepts that include meteoroid impact detection, space telescope swarms, and small orbital debris mapping technologies that may one day be used for future space exploration missions.

The agency selected 25 early-stage technology proposals that have the potential to transform future human and robotic exploration missions, introduce new exploration capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

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NASA Selects In-Space Propulsion Projects for SBIR Funding

NASA has selected six in-space propulsion projects for funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The phase II contracts last for two years and are worth up to $750,000.

The awards include:

e beam, Inc.
Beaverton, OR
Cathode for Electric Space Propulsion Utilizing Iodine as Propellant

Plasma Controls, LLC
Fort Collins, CO
Iodine Hollow Cathode

Quest Thermal Group
Arvada, CO
Multi-Environment MLI: Novel Multi-Functional Insulation for Mars Missions

Streamline Automation, LLC
Huntsville, AL
Hybrid Propulsion Technology for Robotic Science Missions

TDA Research, Inc.
Wheat Ridge, CO
Novel Sorbent to Remove Radioactive Halogens and Noble Gases from NTP Engine Exhaust

WASK Engineering, Inc.
Cameron Park, CA
High Response Control Valve

Summaries of the proposals follow.

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