Monthly Archive for November, 2011

NASA Selects 300 SBIR, STTR Projects

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NASA PR — NASA has selected 300 small business proposals to enter into negotiations for possible contract awards through the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

These competitive awards-based programs encourage U.S. small businesses and research institutions to engage in federal research, development and commercialization. The programs enable teams to explore technological potential while providing the incentive to profit from new commercial products and services.

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Made in Space Selected for NASA Contract to Develop ISS 3D Printing Capability

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Made in Space tests a 3D printer in microgravity. (Credit: Made in Space)

Made in Space, Inc. has been selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to develop in-space 3D manufacturing capability for the International Space Station. No terms have been released, but NASA says that SBIR agreements are typically funded for six months at amounts of up to $125,000.

The 3D system, called the Additive Manufacturing Facility, “will allow for immediate repair of essential components, upgrades of existing hardware, installation of new hardware that is manufactured, and the manufacturing capability to support commercial interests. Additive manufacturing is the process of building a part layer-by-layer, with an efficient use of the material. The process leads to a reduction in cost, mass, labor and production time,” according to Made in Space’s proposal.

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Astrobotic Wins NASA Contract for Cave Exploration Rovers on Moon, Mars

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ASTROBOTIC PR – PITTSBURGH, PA – NOV. 29, 2011 – NASA today selected Astrobotic Technology Inc. for a contract to develop robotic teams to explore extensive caves on Mars, the Moon, and other planetary destinations. Astrobotic will develop robots that cooperate to overcome the challenges of underground planetary missions: no light for solar power, radio communications blocked by rock, and mobility challenged by rough terrain.

Through a subcontract to Carnegie Mellon University, the research will build on multi-robot and subterranean robot research pioneered at CMU to improve capabilities and reduce risk of failure relative to single-robot missions.

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Virgin Galactic Moving to Las Cruces

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Gear down. (Photo: Mark Greenberg)

The New Mexico Business Weekly reports that Virgin Galactic will be moving into a new headquarters in Las Cruces in January:

Virgin Galactic will oversee its space flight business from a 2,500-square-foot office on the east side of Las Cruces.

The company, which plans to send paying tourists to space from the New Mexico Spaceport in southern New Mexico, has rented the top floor of the new Green Offices at 166 South Roadrunner Parkway, about two blocks south of the MountainView Regional Medical Center.

The office suite will serve as Virgin Galactic’s New Mexico headquarters, housing about a dozen employees to start.

Read the full story.

Study Recommends Measures to Boost Virginia’s Space Industry Competitiveness

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Pad OA at Wallops Island. (Credit: Orbital Sciences Corporation)

A new analysis shows that Virginia’s diverse space industry is highly competitive with those in other states, and it makes a half dozen recommendations on how the Commonwealth can improve its standing with additional government and private spending.

“The Commonwealth’s industry diversity is a major advantage in the future growth of the industry. These space assets currently align in a way that with a number of strategic financial investments, Virginia’s already robust space presence can be tailored to foster development over the coming decades,” reads the 32-page report written by the Performance Management Group @ Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Garvey Space Gets NASA Contract for Nanosat Launches

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Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle. (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft)

GSC PR — Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) has been awarded a contract from the NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) at Kennedy Space Center, FL to provide a high altitude launch service for demonstration NanoSatellites. This contract consists of a single launch with potential extension at the Government’s discretion to up to four additional launches.

NASA LSP plans to evolve this capability to provide low-cost, frequent near-term flight opportunities for universities and other academic institutions who are pioneering the development of CubeSat and NanoSat-class payloads. It is anticipated that the results and experiences from these entry-level flight projects will complement and contribute to subsequent orbital missions that LSP is also responsible for under its Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) program.

To satisfy NASA’s requirement that the launch vehicle have at minimum one successful previous launch, GSC and its partner California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) are providing the Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV) that has already undertaken three flights since March of this year. The P-18 is the latest in a series of test vehicles that are establishing the foundation for an operational nanosat launch vehicle (NLV) capability.

“This LSP launch service leverages our team’s ongoing efforts to develop an operational nanosat launch vehicle that is dedicated to this emerging market,” remarked GSC’s CEO John Garvey. “Like the payload providers, we expect to learn a great deal and intend to apply these insights to an NLV that can take such spacecraft all the way to orbit.”

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Mars ’12 Update: Curiosity Healthy, Phobos-Grunt Not

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This artist's concept depicts the rover Curiosity, of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, as it uses its Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument to investigate the composition of a rock surface. ChemCam fires laser pulses at a target and views the resulting spark with a telescope and spectrometers to identify chemical elements. The laser is actually in an invisible infrared wavelength, but is shown here as visible red light for purposes of illustration. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA has a healthy spacecraft on its way to Mars.

Engineers have received data from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory showing that all systems are operating normally. The approximately eight-month journey to Mars is underway.

MSL, aka Curiosity, was launched from Cape Canaveral on Saturday en route to an Aug. 6 landing on the Red Planet.

Meanwhile, things continue to look grim for Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission, which has been stuck in low Earth orbit for three weeks.

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Awesome Video: Moon Express Lander Touches Down in Vegas…Baby!

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On Tuesday November 29thm 2011, Moon Express took the main stage at the Autodesk University convention in Las Vegas to announced its selection Autodesk software to design its private missions to the Moon; unveils lunar micro-rovers and announces global design competition for lunar mining at Autodesk University.

Here is a clip of the opening sequence of that presentation – Moon Express, Vegas-style..

GLXP News: Moon Express Teams with Autodesk to Explore Lunar Surface

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LAS VEGAS, Nov. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Moon Express, a Google Lunar X PRIZE contender,  announced today that it has selected Autodesk design software to develop commercial lander and robotic systems for lunar exploration.

Taking the main stage before more than 8,000 attendees at Autodesk University  2011, Edwin “EJ” Sabathia of the “Moon Express Robotics Lab for Innovation” (MERLIN) unveiled lunar micro-rovers designed with Autodesk software. EJ was one of eight student robotics engineers hired by Moon Express in September from a  team of the nations’ brightest engineering students. MERLIN is utilizing Autodesk design software for developing robotic technology supporting the  company’s lunar exploration missions.

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Aerojet and FTT Announce Major Next Generation Engine Milestone

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SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 28, 2011 – Aerojet, a GenCorp (NYSE: GY) company, announced today that it has successfully completed a major milestone in the development of a ground demonstrator for the Next Generation Engine (NGE) program. Aerojet, along with its partner Florida Turbine Technologies, Inc. (FTT), recently completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the turbopump assembly before an Independent Review Team comprised of third party turbomachinery experts.

“We continue to make steady progress on a modern, all-U.S. LOX/hydrogen upper stage engine which will significantly reduce U.S. launch vehicle propulsion costs and improve performance,” said Aerojet’s Vice President of Space and Launch Systems, Julie Van Kleeck.

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