NASA Funds 3 Small Business Projects Focused on In-situ Use of Lunar Resources

Astronaut working on the moon (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected three companies to continue development of technologies that will allow Artemis astronauts to extract oxygen from and 3D print parts using lunar regolith under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The Phase II awards to Blueshift, L’Garde and Air Squared are worth up to $750,000 apiece over 24 months. Each company previously received Phase I awards to begin developing the technologies.

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X-Bow Launch Systems Emerges From Stealth, Unveils 3D Printed Solid Rocket Motor

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., March 22, 2022 (X-Bow Launch Systems PR) — X-Bow Launch Systems Inc. (X-Bow), a revolutionary American space technology company focused on 3D printed energetics, announced today that it has exited stealth mode. X-Bow (pronounced “cross-bow”) brings to market its solid fuel rocket motors, along with a suite of small launch vehicles for both orbital and suborbital launch services. Customers already include the U.S. Air Force Research Labs and AFWERX, Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs, as well as the Defense Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Since its founding in 2016, X-Bow has focused on the design and development of 3D printed solid rocket motors that are more efficient and considerably more cost effective than traditional motors. X-Bow’s new class of highly flexible, reliable and ultra-responsive solid rocket motors introduces new products to a market that has not seen significant technological change for decades. 

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ESRIC Unveils First Five Start-ups Selected as Part of “Start-up Support Programme”

ESCH-SUR-ALZETTE, Luxembourg (ESRIC PR) — Following the first call for applications, the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) has selected the five start-ups to participate in the “Start-up Support Programme” (SSP) and begin their pre-incubation in April 2022.

Based in Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg, ESRIC is Europe’s leading research and innovation centre in the field of space resources. Launched in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), and Technoport (Luxembourg’s main technology incubator), ESRIC’s Start-up Support Programme (SSP) aims to support early-stage start-ups in the space resources sector, to develop their business models, attract their first customers and secure their first investments. Targeting terrestrial and/or space applications, the Start-up Support Programme is managed jointly with ESA.

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Unlimited 3D Printing for Space

IMPERIAL 3D printer (Credit: BEEVERYCREATIVE)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A standard 3D printer cannot produce anything bigger than the size limits of the printer itself. But this new IMPERIAL 3D printer, designed for use in space by a Europe-wide industrial consortium, can print high performance polymer parts of unlimited size along one dimension.

What is also known as ‘Additive manufacturing’ is an essential enabling technology for deep space crewed missions. Built to operate in weightlessness – meaning it can work upside down on Earth – this printer has been specially designed with ‘out-of-Earth’ manufacturing in mind, enabling future space explorers to produce structures, tools and spare parts as needed.

The project was undertaken for ESA by a consortium led by OHB in Germany, with Azimut Space in Germany, Athlone Institute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland and BEEVERYCREATIVE in Portugal developing the 3D printer. Now this ground-based prototype is complete, the next step would be to test it in orbit aboard the International Space Station.

NRAO and Optisys Partner Up to Produce 3D Devices for Radio Astronomy

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NRAO PR) — Recent advancements in 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) for metallic structures make it possible to print all-metal electromagnetic devices—like antennas and waveguides—on demand. A new partnership between the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Optisys, LLC, headquartered in West Valley City, Utah, will explore the potential for leveraging this technology for radio astronomy applications.

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Russian 3D Printer to be Tested on ISS in 2022

Russian 3D printer (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — It is planned to conduct a 3D printing experiment on the Russian segment of the International Space Station, dedicated to the development of additive technologies for the production of products from polymer materials in space conditions. To do this, in June 2022, a 3D printer will be brought to the ISS on the Progress MS-20 cargo ship.

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Launcher Names Tim Berry as Head of Manufacturing

Tim Berry, Head of Manufacturing (Credit: Launcher)

The former Manager of Additive Manufacturing at SpaceX will lead Launcher’s Additive and Machining capabilities and build world-class Production and Integration systems for Launcher’s products.

HAWTHORNE, Calif., February 15, 2022 (Launcher PR) – Launcher (launcherspace.com), an industry-leading developer of highly efficient rockets and transfer vehicles, has appointed Tim Berry as its Head of Manufacturing.

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Deep Blue Aerospace Raises Nearly $31.5 Million for Partially Reusable Launch Vehicle

Grasshopper test vehicle in flight. (Credit: Deep Blue Aerospace)

Translated from Chinese by Google Translate

NANTONG CITY, China (Jiangsu Deep Blue Aerospace PR) — On January 18th, Jiangsu Deep Blue Aerospace Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as: Deep Blue Aerospace) announced the completion of the A round of financing of nearly 200 million yuan. This round of financing was led by Zhencheng Investment, Detong Capital, Ou Rui Capital, Galaxy Ventures, Zhuoyuan Capital co-invested. 

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NASA Selects 8 Early Stage Tech Innovations from US Universities

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis mission will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Research and development in labs across the country today could lead to enhanced capabilities in space in the future. NASA has selected eight university-led research proposals to study early-stage technologies relating to advanced materials, quantum communications, and more.

Each selection will receive up to $650,000 in grants from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants program over up to three years, giving the university teams the time and resources to iterate multiple designs and solutions.

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NASA, Small Business Advance Autonomous Metal 3D Printing in Space

EBF3 technology was tested in a simulated zero-gravity environment and worked successfully. (Credits: NASA)

HAMPTON, Va. (NASA PR) — Researchers are one step closer to autonomously 3D printing metals in space.

Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication, or EBF3, uses an electron beam gun, dual wire feed, and computer controls to manufacture metallic structures. In development for more than two decades, the process still relies on a human to observe and adjust the system.

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Funding the Future of European Space Through OSIP in 2021

Credit: ESA

PARIS (ESA PR) — What do high-tech sponges, aircraft shaped like falcons and 3D printers on the Moon have in common?

They can all be found among the topics of the 87 research and development activities funded by ESA’s Discovery & Preparation programme between November 2020 and April 2021.

ESA set up the Open Space Innovation Platform (OSIP) to discover and invest in new unconventional ideas that could greatly benefit and advance European space industry and academia.

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Redwire Developing Key Technologies to Build Sustainable Lunar Infrastructure

Redwire’s Additive Manufacturing Device, which will be used to run the regolith simulant prints for the Redwire Regolith Print mission. (Credit: Redwire)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NASA PR) — The farther humans go into deep space, the more important it will be to generate products with local materials. Reducing Earth delivery requirements reduces overall mission cost and launch weight.  It also allows for the construction of infrastructure using space-based resources, a practice called in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). NASA is making long term investments to advance ISRU technology across multiple areas, including regolith-based in-space manufacturing and construction.

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Cygnus Resupply Ship Installed on Space Station’s Unity Module for Cargo Transfers

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft launches from Pad-0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 16th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA will deliver nearly 8,200 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the International Space Station and its crew. (Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft was bolted into place on the International Space Station’s Earth-facing port of the Unity module at 9:42 a.m. EDT. Cygnus will remain at the space station for about three months until the spacecraft departs in November.

The spacecraft’s arrival brings more than 8,200 pounds of research and supplies to space station. Highlights of cargo aboard Cygnus include:

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Rapid Spacecraft Thruster Deliveries Through Advancements In Additive Manufacturing

Agile Additive’s Trumpf TruPrint 2000 laser metal fusion printer in operation while printing Niobium alloy parts. (Credit: Agile Space Industries)

DURANGO, Colo. (Agile Space Industries PR) – Agile Space Industries, an aerospace propulsion innovator founded in 2009, has acquired additive manufacturing (AM) leader, Tronix3D, to continue their mission of innovating in-space propulsion systems. The newly integrated entity will be known as Agile Additive and will extend the innovations of Tronix3D in printing exotic alloys for complex, high-performance aerospace components to transform how space companies execute their most demanding missions.

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