NASA Selects 5 Solar Sail R&D Projects for Funding

Illustration of NASA’s NEA Scout with the solar sail deployed as it flies by its asteroid destination. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected five research and development projects for funding that are focused on improving the performance of solar sails, which use solar photons (sunlight) to propel themselves.

NASA selected the five projects under the space agency’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, which partners companies with academia. Each Phase I award is worth up to $150,000.

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NASA Funds R&D Projects to Produce Fuel and Process Oxygen on the Moon and Mars

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected two research and development (R&D) projects focused on producing technologies that future astronauts will need to produce fuel and oxygen on the moon and Mars.

Air Company Holdings of Brooklyn, NY, and New York University will share a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award worth up to $150,000 to develop a system to produce kerosene-based fuels on Earth and Mars. Innosense of Torrance, Calif., and the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottsville will receive a STTR award to develop a hydrogen sensor to be used in the processing of oxygen from lunar regolith.

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NASA Funds R&D Projects for Lunar Construction Technology

Astronaut working on the moon (Credit: NASA)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon, the spaced agency is funding a series of research and development (R&D) projects focused on turning lunar regolith into landing pads, blast shields and other useful structures.

NASA recently selected four R&D projects for funding under its Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)  program. The projects, which partner small businesses with academia, will each receive up to $150,000 apiece for studies lasting 13 months.

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NASA Supports Small Business Research to Power Future Exploration

A project funded by NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer program could help improve the efficiency of solar cells for space missions and use on Earth. Here, a team member installs solar panels onto the CAPSTONE spacecraft – short for Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment – before its launch to the Moon. (Image Credit: NASA/Dominic Hart)

WASHINGTON (NASA HQ PR) — NASA has selected hundreds of small businesses and dozens of research institutions to develop technology to help drive the future of space exploration, ranging from novel sensors and electronics to new types of software and cutting-edge materials. The newly awarded projects under the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program also include a high-power electric rocket and a coating to make solar panels more efficient that could be used both in space and here on Earth.

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NASA Chooses Small Businesses to Continue Exploration Tech Development

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program has chosen 110 U.S. small businesses for continued technology development. The range of projects support space exploration and improvements to life on Earth – from foldable solar array technology that could help power astronauts’ work on the Moon to antenna technology that could improve satellite internet service.

NASA’s SBIR program provides early-stage funding and other non-monetary support to small businesses with pioneering ideas to help advance NASA’s missions, as well as the aerospace ecosystem. The new round of awards gives almost $95 million to small businesses across 123 projects.

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NASA Invests in Tech Development From Small Businesses, Researchers

A new round of awards for small business and research partnerships will advance technology development. A partnership between Interstel Technologies, Inc., and University of Hawaii at Manoa will develop a system for guiding swarms of vehicles, such as rovers, illustrated here. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program has awarded $15 million to U.S. small businesses and research institutions to continue developing technologies in areas ranging from aeronautics to science and space exploration.

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New Composite Material Could Make Manufacturing on the Moon and Mars More Efficient

Above: An experimental composite material for the Moon/Mars cures inside an acrylic vacuum chamber. (Credit: PISCES)

HILO, Hawai’i (PISCES PR) — NASA has plans to put humans back on the Moon as early as 2025 and ISRU (in-situ resource utilization) will be a crucial technology for establishing the infrastructure needed to sustain humans in the harsh lunar environment. Using raw, native materials, ISRU can provide vital resources like breathable air, tools or building blocks for shelters.

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NASA Small Business Partners Advance Lunar Technologies

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis mission will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Small businesses around the country have played a critical part in NASA technologies that enable our missions. As NASA returns to the Moon via the Artemis program, in an enhanced, sustainable way; the agency has selected five U.S. small businesses to receive a total of nearly $20 million to accelerate the development of novel lunar capabilities. 

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SpaceWERX Launch Drives AFWERX Small Business Focus on Universities and On-orbit Capability

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (USAF PR) – On August 19, SpaceWERX will officially launch. The kickoff will include a virtual Space Force Pitch Day highlighting the key partnership between the Department of the Air Force and small businesses by awarding up to $34 million to innovative startups competing for Small Business Innovation Research Phase II contracts. At the launch, SpaceWERX will also announce key initiatives to jumpstart the fall campaign.To join the SpaceWERX ecosystem click here

As a part of AFWERX, SpaceWERX will play a vital role in pursuing innovative technologies for the United States Space Force. The Department’s newest innovation arm will create platforms for space operators, lab engineers, and acquisition professionals to collaborate with the brightest minds in academia and industry pursuing novel solutions. Moreover, SpaceWERX will continue to leverage proven AFWERX tools such as the SBIR Open Topic, Challenge platform, STRATFI initiative, and Prime program. 

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NASA Space Technology Budget Request Fact Sheet

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Technology
($ Millions)

The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) develops transformative, cross-cutting technologies that lead to research and technology breakthroughs to enable NASA’s missions and is broadening its focus on cross-cutting space technologies that will support creating good jobs in a growing space industry.

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NASA Invests $105 Million in US Small Business Technology Development

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has a long history of supporting America’s entrepreneurs as they develop technologies from ideas to commercial readiness. The agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is furthering that legacy with 140 new Phase II awards to 127 U.S. small businesses that will help them move their innovations to market.

The awards to these small businesses, located across 34 states and Washington, D.C., total $105 million. NASA’s small business program is dedicated to finding the most useful technologies for the agency and the commercial marketplace, and sourcing those innovations from a diverse  group of entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and perspectives. The companies chosen for Phase II funding include 33 women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses.

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NASA Invests More than $45 Million in Small Business Projects

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Small businesses are vital to NASA’s mission, helping expand humanity’s presence in space and improve life on Earth. NASA has selected 365 U.S. small business proposals for initial funding from the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, a total investment of more than $45 million.

“At NASA, we recognize that small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “This year, to get funds into the hands of small businesses sooner, we accelerated the release of the 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitation by two months. We hope the expedited funding helps provide a near-term boost for future success.”

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Commercial CubeRover Test Shows How NASA Investments Mature Space Tech

The Astrobotic CubeRover traverses the terrain in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory regolith bin at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 10, 2020. The regolith bin simulates the mechanical properties of the Moon’s surface. NASA and Astrobotic employees put the CubeRover through a series of more than 150 mobility tests over several days to evaluate and improve wheel design. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently put a new, small robotic rover through its paces inside a 120-ton bin of regolith rock and dust that simulates the lunar surface.

The four-wheeled CubeRover rolled over dunes of abrasive dust, turned in place, and then trundled up and down steep trench walls within the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations (GMRO) laboratory as it performed more than 150 mobility tests. The rover’s creators, from Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, worked alongside Kennedy’s Swamp Works team, assessing the robot’s maneuverability and how its sensor, motor, and power systems operated in the dusty environment.

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