NASA Selects 26 CubeSat-Related Projects for SBIR & STTR Phase I Awards

Three nanosatellites, known as Cubesats, are deployed from a Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (SSOD) attached to the Kibo laboratory’s robotic arm. (Credit: NASA)
Three nanosatellites, known as Cubesats, are deployed from a Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (SSOD) attached to the Kibo laboratory’s robotic arm. (Credit: NASA)

Many of the CubeSats and nanosats flown to date have been fairly simple spacecraft, without much ability to maneuver, perform complex tasks, or travel beyond low Earth orbit.

NASA is looking to change that situation. The space agency recently selected 26 projects relating to CubeSats and nanosats for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I programs.

The awards will fund a wide range of research projects, include the development of propulsion technology, solar power generators, improved scientific instrumentation, and dedicated launch vehicles. In some cases , new technologies that are scalable to larger spacecraft will be tested on CubeSats.

Nine of the projects were chosen specifically to advance technologies needed to send CubeSats to explore the moon and other deep space destinations. This has the potential to significantly change the way deep space exploration is conducted. Instead of one giant spacecraft, imagine being able to send out a fleet of extremely small ones that are none-the-less high capable. College or even high school students might be able to explore other worlds.

A number of the companies selected for funding will be familiar to Parabolic Arc’s readers. These include Jon Goff’s Altius Space Machines, Planetary Resources, Garvey Spacecraft Corporation, OBITEC, Ventions LLC and Terminal Velocity Aerospace.

The 26 awards are for six months and up to $125,000 apiece. NASA is investing as much as $3.25 million in this round of the programs on CubeSats and nanosats projects.

NASA 2014 SBIR Select Phase I Deep Space CubeSat Technology Projects
CompanyLocationResearch Project
Aether Industries LLCAnn Arbor, MICubeSat Ambipolar Thruster for LEO and Deep Space Missions
Altius Space Machines, Inc.Louisville, COMulti-Purpose Interplanetary Deployable Aerocapture System (MIDAS)
ASTER Labs, Inc.Shoreview, MNDeep Space CubeSat Gamma-ray Navigation Technology Demonstration
Busek Company, Inc.Natick, MALunarCube for Deep Space Missions
ExoTerra Resource, LLCLone Tree, COSolar Electric Propulsion CubeSat Bus for Deep Space Missions
Fibertek, Inc.Herndon, VA1U CubeSat Lasercom Terminal for Deep Space Communication
Innoflight, Inc.San Diego, CADeep Space Cubesat Regenerative Ranging Transponder (DeSCReeT)
MicroLink Devices, Inc.Niles, ILHigh Power Betavoltaic Technology
Nanohmics, Inc.Austin, TXDeployable Solar Energy Generators for Deep Space Cubesats
NASA 2014 STTR Phase I CubeSat and Nanosat Projects
CompanyLocationsResearch Project
Garvey Spacecraft Corporation & University of California, San DiegoLong Beach, CA & La Jolla, CAThe Application of 3D Additive Machining to Enhance the Affordability of a Small Launcher Booster Stage
Orbital Technologies Corporation & Pennsylvania State UniversityMadison, WI & University Park, PAHigh Performance Nanolauncher
NASA 2014 SBIR Phase I CubeSat and Nanosat Projects
CompanyLocationResearch Project
Black Forest Engineering, LLCColorado Springs, CODevelopment of a Radiation Hardened CZT Sensor Array and 1U CubeSat Flight Test
Digital Solid State Propulsion, Inc.Reno, NVA Green, Safe, Dual-Pulse Solid Motor for CubeSat Orbit Changing
MMA Design, LLCBoulder, COPrecision Mobile-Joint and Latching Technologies for Deployable Optical Systems
MSNW, LLCRedmond, WAISS Launched Cubesat Demonstration of Variable-Drag Magnetoshell Aerocapture
Nanohmics, Inc.Austin, TXImproved Hyperspectral Imaging Technologies
Orbital Technologies CorporationMadison, WIMiniature Nontoxic Nitrous Oxide-Propane (MINNOP) Propulsion
Physical Sciences, Inc.Andover, MAOptical Precision Deployment Latch
Planetary Resources Development CorporationBellevue, WAThe Compact Hyperspectral Aberration-Corrected Platform (CHAP), an Instrument for Microspacecraft
Planetary Resources Development CorporationBellevue, WAIntegrated Propulsion and Primary Structure Module for Small Satellite and CubeSat Applications
QorTek, Inc.Williamsport, PAUltraprecision Pointing Accuracy for SmallSat/CubeSat Attitude Control Systems
Systems & Processes Engineering CorporationAustin, TXHD6D LIDAR for High Speed Descent Mapping
Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLCAtlanta, GALow-Cost Small Payload Return to Enable High Frequency ISS Research
VectorSum, Inc.Irvine, CAFlexible Automation for Final Assembly of Blanket Arrays
Ventions, LLCSan Francisco, CALow-Cost and High-Performance Propulsion for Small Satellite Applications
Virginia Diodes, Inc.Charlottesville, VAIntegrated Receivers for NASA Radiometers