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Friday, Oct 28, 2016

NASA Selects Proposals for Advancing Adaptive Space Robotics, 3-D Printing and Other Key Exploration Technologies

NASA has selected 21 research and technology proposals from American small businesses and research institutions that will enable NASA's future missions into the solar system and beyond while benefiting America's technology-driven economy here on Earth.

The Phase II selectees of NASA's Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program are permitted to enter negotiations for possible contract awards worth a combined total of approximately $15.8 million. The program selected 21 innovative technology and projects from 41 U.S. firms and research institutions in 20 different states.

"Just as small businesses are driving our economy, technology is driving exploration," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These selected proposals demonstrate the creativity of American entrepreneurs and, along with our other technology investments, will contribute to ensuring the U.S. remains a leader in technology development and space exploration."

A sampling of proposals from the selected small businesses and research institutions demonstrates the breadth of research these awards will fund, including technology developments and advancements in the following areas:

  • Autonomous communications systems
  • Gas sensing technology advancements for spacesuits
  • Space weather prediction
  • Technologies for planetary compositional analysis and mapping
  • Information technologies for intelligent and adaptive space robotics
  • Advanced propulsion system ground test and launch technology

One study will explore the use of a fuel grain as propellant.  The proposed green propellant system offers significant advantages over competing technologies in the areas of cost, safety and mission capability. This effort will build on the successful studies, design, and testing activities completed during Phase I research. The resulting technology will fulfill the ever-growing mission demands of the extensive small satellite market, including CubeSats and NanoSats, by enabling dedicated launch for CubeSat-scale payloads. Comparable launch vehicle stages in this size class currently are not commercially available.

A second study involves a new generation of CubeSats that take advantage of in-situ resources -- living off the land -- while exploring space. The proposal combines existing CubeSat technology with 3-D printing technology and an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) water extraction system. The 3-D printing technology enables development of steam thrusters, as well as tanks that fit within the available space within the CubeSat. The ISRU module captures and extracts water, and takes advantage of the heat generated by the CubeSat electronics system, with supplemental power from solar charged batteries.

Source : NASA - view original press release

Published on ASDNews: Sep 1, 2016


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