NASA Selects 10 Small Business Proposals for Lunar ISRU

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon in the Artemis program, the space agency is increasingly eyeing the use of lunar resources to reduce the expense of launching everything from Earth.

NASA recently selected 10 proposals to develop technologies for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

NASA selected six SBIR and four STTR proposals for funding. Each award is worth $125,000. NASA awards SBIR contracts to individual small businesses. STTR awards are given to partnerships between small businesses and non-profit research institutions.

Many of the proposals are focused on the extraction and processing of ice from the lunar regolith and its processing into water, oxygen and rocket fuel.

Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson will develop the Collector of Ice in a Cold Lunar Environment (ICICLE), which is a cold trap for collecting and purifying water extracted from the permanently shadowed regions (PSR) of the lunar poles.

Blueshift, LLC of Broomfield, Colo., is developing a continuous feed reactor for rapidly heating lunar regolith for the extyraction of oxygen and metal.

Sierra Lobo, Inc. of Fremont, Ohio, will receive funding to develop a heat-assisted cutting tool to mine lunar ice.

Gloyer-Taylor Laboratories and the University of Tennessee Space Institute have teamed to develop standards for impure propellants derived from materials on the moon and Mars.

Links to all the selected proposals are below.

SBIR

Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.
Lancaster, PA
Thermal Management System for Lunar Ice Miners

Blueshift, LLC
Broomfield, CO
Solar Concentrator Oxygen Reactor with Continuous Heating and Extrusion of Regolith

Faraday Technology, Inc.
Englewood, OH
Ionic Liquid-Assisted Electrochemical Extraction of Oxygen from Lunar Regolith

Lunar Resources, Inc.
Houston, TX
Molten Regolith Electrolysis: The Extraction of Oxygen from Lunar Regolith

Paragon Space Development Corporation
Tucson, AZ
ISRU Collector of Ice in a Cold Lunar Environment (ICICLE)

Sierra Lobo, Inc.
Fremont, OH
Lunar Ice Mining Using a Heat-Assisted Cutting Tool

STTR

Combustion Research and Flow Technology
Pipersville, PA
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

Design of Spray Cooling Systems for Chilldown of Propellant Tanks

Gloyer-Taylor Laboratories, LLC
Tullahoma, TN
University of Tennessee Space Institute
Tullahoma, TN

Standards for Impure Propellants

Precision Combustion, Inc.
North Haven, CT
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

Pressure and Low Temperature Tolerant, High Current Density Solid Electrolyte for Propellant Grade Reactants

TDA Research, Inc.
Wheat Ridge, CO
Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI)
Atlanta, GA

A New Oxygen Recovery Process to Reduce Waste from Propellant Tanks