NASA Selects Smallsat Technology Projects for SBIR Funding

Credit: NASA

NASA has selected nine small satellite technology projects for funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Each contract is worth up to $750,000 over two years.

The proposals include:

Antara Teknik, LLC
Granite Bay, CA
Efficient and Secure Network and Application Communications for Small Spacecraft

Busek Company, Inc.
Natick, MA
Milliarcsecond Small Spacecraft Attitude Control System

CU Aerospace, LLC
Champaign, IL
Fiber-fed Advanced Pulsed Plasma Thruster (FPPT)

Froberg Aerospace, LLC
Rolla, MO
Multi-Mode Micropropulsion

Gener8, Inc.
Sunnyvale, CA
Integrated Waveguide Optical Gyroscope

Innoflight, Inc.
San Diego, CA
Compact Multi-Protocol Modem

Tethers Unlimited, Inc.
Bothell, WA

Valley Tech Systems, Inc.
Folsom, CA
Affordable Small Satellite Launch Vehicle Reaction Control System

Vector Launch Inc.
Tucson, AZ
Flight Demonstration of a Micropump-based Stage Pressurization System

Summaries of the proposals follow.


Vector Selected for NASA SBIR Award

NASA has selected Vector Launch company for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to demonstrate a micropump-based stage pressurization system. The two-year contract is worth up to $750,000.

“Electrically-driven micropumps drive a small portion of each propellant over a novel 3D-printed heat exchanger at the engine to pressurize the tanks. Excess flow can be diverted to the engine as needed,” the company said in its proposal.


Vector to Conduct Dedicated Launch of Alba Orbital PocketQube Satellites on First Orbital Attempt

TUCSON, Ariz., March 8, 2018 (Vector PR) — Vector, a nanosatellite launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Boeing, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced it will conduct a dedicated launch of two PocketQube satellites using an Alba Orbital deployer (AlbaPOD) on the Vector-R launch vehicle later this year from the Pacific Spaceport Complex – Alaska (PSCA) in Kodiak.

Alba Orbital, a manufacturer of PocketQube satellites, will launch the Unicorn-2a satellite platform and a satellite developed by Delft University of Technology, Delfi-PQ1. The launch itself marks a historic moment for both Vector and Alba Orbital as its first orbital launch attempt and the world’s first PocketQube dedicated launch.


Vector Space to Conduct Test Launch in Georgia

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

Vector Space Systems is planning a test launch from the possible site of a future spaceport on the Georgia coast.

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a permit for Vector Space Systems to conduct a low-altitude launch on Thursday of a full-scale prototype of the company’s Vector-R launch vehicle.

The rocket will be launched from the site of a proposed spaceport, the same location in Camden County where NASA tested solid-fuel rocket engines in the 1960s.

No target altitude has been announced, but Simpson said the rocket will travel at least several thousand feet high. The trajectory will take the rocket straight up and straight down, so there are no concerns about safety to surrounding areas.

Simpson said a five-hour launch window will be available from early morning to mid afternoon, but he couldn’t give a specific time for the launch. Cloud cover, air traffic and other factors will determine when the launch is held.

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Vector Declares Rocket Launch Successful

Flight test of P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle from Friends of Amateur Rocketry site in California. (Credit: Vector Space Systems)

CANTIL, Calif. (Vector PR) — Vector, a micro satellite space launch company comprised of new-space and enterprise software industry veterans from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas, Sea Launch and VMware, today announced the successful test launch of the P-19H engineering model of the Vector-R launch vehicle.

This flight test is the first of several upcoming launches which will enable Vector to evaluate critical technologies and functions of the operational family of Vector launch vehicles.


Vector Space Systems Selected for NASA Small Business Funding

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) additive manufactured injector by was successfully hot fire tested by Vector Space System on Dec. 8, 2016 using Liquid Oxygen/Propylene propellant (LOX/LC3H6). This work was performed under a 2015 STMD ACO Space Act Agreement. (Credit: Vector Space System)

Vector Space Systems has been selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to develop new technology for the company’s Vector-R small satellite launch vehicle.


The Year Ahead in Space

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

It’s going to be busy year in space in 2017. Here’s a look at what we can expect over the next 12 months.

A New Direction for NASA?

NASA’s focus under the Obama Administration has been to try to commercialize Earth orbit while creating a foundation that would allow the space agency to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030’s.

Whether Mars will remain a priority under the incoming Trump Administration remains to be seen. There is a possibility Trump will refocus the space agency on lunar missions instead.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), who is currently viewed as a leading candidate for NASA administrator, has written two blog posts focused on the importance of exploring the moon and developing its resources. Of course, whether Bridenstine will get NASA’s top job is unclear at this time.