NASA has selected 11 U.S. companies to develop technologies that could support long-term exploration on the Moon and in space for the benefit of all. The technologies range from lunar surface power systems to tools for in-space 3D printing, which will expand industry capabilities for a sustained human presence on the Moon through Artemis, as well as other NASA, government, and commercial missions.
“Partnering with the commercial space industry lets us at NASA harness the strength of American innovation and ingenuity,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The technologies that NASA is investing in today have the potential to be the foundation of future exploration.”
The projects, chosen under the agency’s sixth Tipping Point opportunity, will be funded jointly by NASA and the industry partners. The total expected NASA contribution to the partnerships is $150 million. Each company will contribute a minimum percentage – at least 10-25%, based on company size – of the total project cost. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will issue milestone-based funded Space Act Agreements lasting for up to four years.
The selected technologies support infrastructure and capabilities in space and at the Moon. Six of the selected companies are small businesses. The awarded companies, their projects, and the approximate value of NASA’s contribution are:
- Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, $34.6 million – LunaGrid-Lite: Demonstration of Tethered, Scalable Lunar Power Transmission
- Big Metal Additive of Denver, $5.4 million – Improving Cost and Availability of Space Habitat Structures with Additive Manufacturing
- Blue Origin of Kent, Washington, $34.7 million – In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU)-Based Power on the Moon
- Freedom Photonics of Santa Barbara, California, $1.6 million – Highly Efficient Watt-Class Direct Diode Lidar for Remote Sensing
- Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, $9.1 million – Joining Demonstrations In-Space
- Redwire of Jacksonville, Florida, $12.9 million – Infrastructure Manufacturing with Lunar Regolith – Mason
- Protoinnovations of Pittsburgh, $6.2 million – The Mobility Coordinator: An Onboard COTS (Commercial-Off-the-Shelf) Software Architecture for Sustainable, Safe, Efficient, and Effective Lunar Surface Mobility Operations
- Psionic of Hampton, Virginia, $3.2 million – Validating No-Light Lunar Landing Technology that Reduces Risk, SWaP (Size, Weight, and Power), and Cost
- United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, $25 million – ULA Vulcan Engine Reuse Scale Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator Technology Demonstration
- Varda Space Industries of El Segundo, California, $1.9 million – Conformal Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator Tech Transfer and Commercial Production
- Zeno Power Systems of Washington, $15 million – A Universal Americium-241 Radioisotope Power Supply for Artemis
“Our partnerships with industry could be a cornerstone of humanity’s return to the Moon under Artemis,” said Dr. Prasun Desai, acting associate administrator for STMD at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “By creating new opportunities for streamlined awards, we hope to push crucial technologies over the finish line so they can be used in future missions. These innovative partnerships will help advance capabilities that will enable sustainable exploration on the Moon.”
Five of the technologies will help humanity explore the Moon. For astronauts to spend extended periods of time on the lunar surface, they will need habitats, power, transportation, and other infrastructure. Two of the selected projects will use the Moon’s own surface material to create such infrastructure – a practice called in-situ resource utilization, or ISRU. Redwire will develop technologies that would allow use of lunar regolith to build infrastructure like roads, foundations for habitats, and landing pads.
Blue Origin’s technology could also make use of local resources by extracting elements from lunar regolith to produce solar cells and wire that could then be used to power work on the Moon.
Astrobotic’s selected proposal will advance technology to distribute power on the Moon’s surface, planned to be tested on a future lunar mission. The company’s CubeRover would unreel more than half a mile (one kilometer) of high-voltage power line that could be used to transfer power from a production system to a habitat or work area on the Moon.
The remaining seven projects will help create new capabilities in other areas of space exploration and Earth observation. Freedom Photonics will develop a novel laser source that could enable a more efficient lidar system – a technology similar to radar that uses light instead of radio waves to make measurements. This system could better detect methane in Earth’s atmosphere and improve scientists’ understanding of climate change.
United Launch Alliance will continue development of inflatable heat shield technology, building on the success of LOFTID (Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator). ULA will further develop the technology for possible use to return large rocket components from low Earth orbit for reuse. Such technology could also be used to land heavier payloads – such as the infrastructure required for crewed missions – on destinations like Mars.
For more information about NASA’s latest Tipping Point selections, visit:
United States Space Force: Protecting America’s Interests in Space
“Learn about the United States Space Force: its formation, purpose, and role in protecting national security and space assets.”
The United States Space Force (USSF) is the newest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, established to protect American interests in space. It was formed on December 20, 2019, when President Donald Trump signed the United States Space Force Act, making it the first new independent military service in over 70 years.
While the concept of a Space Force had been discussed since the 1950s, the need for a dedicated space-focused military branch became increasingly evident with the growing importance of space in national security and defense. The USSF operates under the Department of the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps operates under the Department of the Navy. It is led by the Secretary of the Air Force and its military heads are the Chief of Space Operations and the Vice Chief of Space Operations.
The Space Force’s primary purpose is to ensure the freedom of operation in space and protect U.S. space assets. It is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping space forces, which are then deployed to the unified combatant commands, particularly the United States Space Command. The Space Force operates various programs and systems, including GPS, the Space Fence, military satellite communications constellations, X-37B spaceplanes, the U.S. missile warning system, the U.S. space surveillance network, and the Satellite Control Network.
The USSF’s formation marked a significant recognition of the critical role space plays in national security, communication, and technological advancement. As the world becomes increasingly reliant on space-based assets for navigation, communication, and intelligence gathering, the Space Force aims to protect these capabilities, deter aggression, and maintain superiority in space.
By establishing the Space Force, the United States has demonstrated its commitment to safeguarding its interests in space and maintaining its position as a global leader in space capabilities. As technology continues to advance and more nations venture into space, the United States Space Force will play a vital role in ensuring the security and resilience of American assets in this final frontier. Kindly click on the link for further details: https://www.spaceforce.mil/
NASA Announces Near-Earth Communications, Navigation Industry Studies
NASA selected four companies to perform capability studies with the goal of enhancing its space communication and navigation services in three areas: wideband satellite communications, phased array ground systems, and constellation topology analysis. Through these studies, NASA aims to better understand industry strengths, streamline operations, and smoothly shift to commercial services for space communication and navigation.
The contract awardees are:
- Cesium Astro of Austin, Texas, for $395,640 (Study Area 1 – Wideband Satellite Communications)
- Swedish Space Corporation of Horsham, Pennsylvania, for $149,028 (Study Area 2 – Phased Array Ground Systems)
- Intuitive Machines of Houston, Texas, for $126,650 (Study Area 3 – Constellation Topology Analysis)
- MTI Systems of Lothian, Maryland, for $91,012 (Study Area 3 – Constellation Topology Analysis)
The awards, under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Appendix L, are firm fixed-price milestone-based contracts.
“The agency’s overarching goal is to create a reliable, robust, and cost-effective set of commercial services for space communications and navigation in which space mission users can seamlessly “roam” between an array of space-based and ground-based networks,” said Greg Heckler, commercialization lead for NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
SCaN manages the agency’s two main networks: the Deep Space Network for distant missions and the Near Space Network for missions operating closer to Earth, operated through a mix of government and commercial entities. NASA seeks to create an interoperable architecture composed of a mixture of existing NASA and commercial services. These awards are furthering the agency’s long-term goal of a smooth transition to fully commercialized communications services for near-Earth users.
While each of the awards are diverse in scope, they serve to advance NASA’s understanding of the commercial communications and navigation landscape.
Cesium Astro will take on a forward-thinking study in wideband terminal design that will tap into their technological expertise and established enterprise partnerships.
Swedish Space Corporation, along with the support of Celestia Technologies Group, will conduct an in-depth study on cutting-edge phased array technologies and contribute to the exploration of economically viable lower-cost network solutions.
Intuitive Machines and MTI Systems will provide NASA with insights from satellite constellation crosslink topology studies to inform the agency’s immediate requirements and chart pathways to steer future endeavors.
These studies may add to the evolution of the agency’s Near Space Network and NASA’s vision for a resilient and robust space and ground communications and navigation infrastructure.
NASA’s Near Space Network is managed by the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, under the direction of the SCaN program. SCaN continues to pursue regular industry engagement to identify matches between commercial capabilities and future NASA needs.
Learn more about the NextSTEP public-private partnership model at:
Boom Supersonic Advances Flight Preparations for XB-1: Key Milestones Completed
Boom Supersonic’s XB-1: Advancing supersonic flight with key milestones and preparations for first flight. #aviation #supersonic
Boom Supersonic, the pioneer in supersonic travel, has achieved significant milestones in the development of XB-1, their groundbreaking technology demonstrator aircraft. Leveraging cutting-edge advancements in aviation technology, XB-1 is a stepping stone towards the development of Overture, the world’s fastest airliner. With recent progress in preparing XB-1 for its first flight, Boom Supersonic is one step closer to revolutionizing air travel.
A Major Move and Extensive Ground Testing:
Earlier this year, XB-1 was relocated from Boom’s hangar in Centennial, Colorado, to the Mojave Air & Space Port in California, marking an important step in the flight preparations. Since arriving at Mojave, the aircraft has undergone rigorous ground testing, including recent taxi testing, showcasing the company’s commitment to safety and performance.
Key Approvals and Authorizations:
Boom Supersonic has achieved significant regulatory milestones for XB-1. The aircraft has received an experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after a thorough inspection. Additionally, Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker and test pilot Tristan “Gepetto” Brandenburg have been granted authorization to fly XB-1. Furthermore, letters of agreement with airspace authorities have been secured, allowing for flights over the Mojave desert—an airspace rich in aviation history.
Safety and Proficiency:
The development of XB-1 has provided valuable insights for Boom Supersonic, including the establishment of a robust safety culture. The test pilots have completed extensive simulator training, evaluations, and human factors assessments to ensure the highest levels of safety. To further enhance safety protocols, the test pilots maintain flight proficiency in a T-38 trainer aircraft, which will also serve as a chase plane during XB-1’s flight tests.
The Path to Overture:
XB-1’s successful progress has validated Boom Supersonic’s airplane design approach and enabled engineers to leverage advanced tools such as computational fluid dynamics (CFD). These learnings will be instrumental in the development of Overture, Boom’s sustainable supersonic airliner designed for twice the speed of current airliners and optimized for 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Boom Supersonic’s achievements in advancing flight preparations for XB-1 are a testament to their dedication to transforming air travel. With the completion of key milestones and the imminent historic first flight, Boom Supersonic is one step closer to making supersonic travel mainstream, revolutionizing the aviation industry, and paving the way for sustainable and efficient air transportation with Overture.
Read more about the XB-1 Here: https://boomsupersonic.com/flyby/boom-supersonic-advances-flight-preparations-for-xb-1
SOURCE Boom Supersonic
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