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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Fleet Space to Launch Constellation of World’s First Fully 3D Printed Satellites

Internet of Things satellite (Credit: Fleet Space Technologies)
  • Fleet Space reveals growth strategy following $26.4m (USD) investment 
  • Fleet to unlock high speed connectivity for everything with unlimited data services anywhere
  • Alpha satellites will be the world’s first constellation of fully 3D printed satellites
  • The first Alpha satellites are planned to launch in 2022, with high speed global continuous connectivity coverage planned by 2026
  • Alpha will enable Fleet to deliver services on new frequency bands serving more markets and use cases than ever before
  • Tech to accelerate radical efficiencies unlocked by Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Bold new strategy is endorsement of and commitment to Australia’s space industry
  • Fleet to unlock high speed connectivity for everything, unlimited data services anywhere

SYDNEY, Australia (Fleet Space PR) — “It is Fleet Space’s vision that everyone, everywhere, has access to unlimited connectivity, no matter where they are on the globe; in cities, remote regions, on land or navigating the oceans. Our recent Series B investment empowered us to realise this vision by embarking on a bold new strategy. This new chapter in our story is led by the development of a new constellation of satellites named Alpha, which will work in harmony with our existing Centauri constellation. Alpha represents a major step forward and the first time a satellite has been created entirely through 3D-printing.”

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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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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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Relativity Space Unveils Plans for Terran R, the First Fully Reusable, Entirely 3D-printed Rocket

LONG BEACH, Calif., June 8, 2021 (Relativity Space PR) – Relativity Space, has revealed today its plans for Terran R, its fully reusable, entirely 3D-printed launch vehicle. 

As a two-stage, 216-foot-tall rocket with a 16-foot diameter, and a 5-meter payload fairing, Terran R will be entirely reusable and capable of launching 20,000kg to low Earth orbit (LEO). Created in Relativity’s Factory of the Future, by the same printers as Terran 1, Terran R has unique aeronautical features and complex structures. The company’s proprietary 3D printing process utilizes software-driven manufacturing, exotic materials and unique design geometries that are not possible in traditional manufacturing, driving unprecedented innovation and disruption in the industry.  

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Relativity Space to Develop Sensors to Detect 3D Printing Flaws in Real Time with NASA Award

NASA has selected Relativity Space for that a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award that will allow the company to continue developing a suite of sensors capable of real-time detection of flaws in 3D printing.

“At this time, we do not perform automatic, real-time defect detection, but the company has developed significant elements that when integrated together demonstrate the capability for real-time in-situ flaw detection. We use sensors and cameras to collect data on multi-dimension time series; real-time processing elements to review camera and time series data; and closed-feedback loops to modify print deposition parameters,” the company said in the project summary.

Relativity Space, which is 3D printing its launch vehicle, said the suite of sensors will have a variety of uses both on Earth and in space.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Demonstrates 3D Printed RL10C-X Engine in Full Mission Capability During Altitude Hot Fire Test Series

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., May 11, 2021 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed a successful RL10C-X altitude hot fire test series that put the next generation engine through the rigors of a typical spaceflight mission. Using a test chamber that simulates the vacuum of outer space, the RL10C-X, which produces roughly 24,000 pounds of thrust, was tested in a flight-like configuration to demonstrate the engine’s capability to complete a typical mission profile, including multiple restarts.

The RL10C-X is the next evolution of the company’s RL10 upper-stage engine and contains major components – including the injector and combustion chamber – produced with the company’s industry-leading 3D printing technology.

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SpaceFund Announces Full Deployment of First Fund

HOUSTON (SpaceFund PR) — SpaceFund Inc., announced it has fully deployed investments from its first “LaunchPad” fund today. The venture capital firm placed investor funds in 14 companies, including both some well-known NewSpace stars, as well as seeding rising stars it believes capable of helping lead humanity into the frontier of space.

“We’re right on track in our plan to seed and support the growth of these amazing companies,” said SpaceFund founder Rick Tumlinson. “Our formula is working. First we find brilliant frontier tech startups in need of early funding, then we bring in funds from visionary investors, and after significant diligence, we place those funds in just the right places to power the space revolution.”

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CAES and SWISSto12 Launch Strategic Alliance for 3D Printed RF Technology

ARLINGTON, Va. and LAUSANNE, Switzerland — CAES, the leading provider of RF technologies and related mission critical electronic solutions, and SWISSto12, the leading provider of 3D printed technology for RF applications in the aerospace and defense industry, announced today a strategic alliance to enable CAES to bring additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology to US customers. The alliance grants CAES exclusive license to SWISSto12’s patents, trade secrets, and product designs for the US market. CAES and SWISSto12 will work together with US customers on new designs to meet the high performance requirements of future missions.

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Nikon to Acquire Majority Ownership of Morf3D Inc.

TOKYO (Nikon PR) — Nikon Corporation (Nikon) has acquired majority ownership of Morf3D Inc. (CEO: Ivan Madera, head office: El Segundo, CA, hereinafter “Morf3D”), a trusted leader in metal additive manufacturing (AM) specializing in AM and engineering for the aerospace, space and defense industries, for an undisclosed amount.

Nikon has more than a century of cutting-edge technology and manufactures some of the most precise equipment in the world, with its products being used in applications ranging from advanced semiconductor manufacturing and mass production of panels for televisions and smart devices, to medical systems, automotive and satellites. Nikon is committed to applying its extensive technologies, deeply rooted in light, opto-electronics and precision excellence, to creating value in novel fields and solving societal challenges.

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NASA, Partners Test 3D Printed Rocket Pad Designed by Artemis Generation Students

Credit: NASA

BASTROP, Texas (NASA PR) — A team of students from colleges and universities across the United States – members of the Artemis Generation – tested a 3D printed launch and landing pad to see how it holds up to a hot rocket engine March 6 at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. The students’ design concept – called the Lunar Plume Alleviation Device, or Lunar PAD – aims to solve problems caused by lunar dust kicked up during launches and landings.  

The students first proposed the new design for a competitive proposal writing workshop led by the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and the L’SPACE Academy – the student collaboration project for NASA’s Lucy mission at Arizona State University in Tempe.

Credit: NASA

The team won funding to print and test a small-scale prototype with help from NASA’s Moon-to-Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technologies (MMPACT) project, Austin-based construction technologies startup ICON, and the Sounding Rocketry Team at Texas A&M University in College Station. 

Artemis is NASA’s robotic and human return to the Moon. Inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation – ensures America will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery. MMPACT is funded by NASA’s Game Changing Development Program.

From Monitoring Climate Change to Avoiding Space Debris – Pioneering Space Technology Gets UK Government Cash Boost

SWINDON, UK (UK Space Agency PR) — Five UK organisations have been awarded a total of £300,000 [$416,884] from the UK Space Agency to speed up the development of innovative space technology.

Recipients include the University of Leeds, which will develop 3D printing methods and liquid-crystal technology, similar to that in our television screens at home, to develop far-infrared sensors for studying climate change and star formation.

Another project, led by Rocket Engineering in London, will create a compact propulsion system the size of a house brick for use in nano and small satellites. The engines use electromagnets to enable the satellites to move for in-orbit spacecraft servicing or space debris mitigation.

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Orbex Commissions Largest Industrial 3D Printer in Europe for Rapid Rocket Building

FORRES, UK (Orbex PR) — Orbex has commissioned AMCM to build the largest industrial 3D printer in Europe, allowing the innovative UK-based space launch company to rapidly print complex rocket engines in-house. The custom-made, large volume 3D printer will allow Orbex to print more than 35 large-scale rocket engine and main stage turbopump systems annually, as the company scales up its production capabilities for launches.

The multi-million pound deal was signed with AMCM, following a series of successful trials printing various large-scale rocket components over a number of months. AMCM will deliver a complete printing suite with post-processing machinery and ‘Machine Vision’ systems, providing automatic imaging-based inspection of printed components. To accommodate the new machinery, Orbex is expanding its factory floor space by an additional 1,000 m².

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Several Technology Development Payloads Sponsored by the ISS National Lab Launching on Northrop Grumman CRS-15

The S.S. Kalpana Chawla begins the second phase of its mission after leaving the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., February 17, 2021 (CASIS PR) – On Saturday, February 20, no earlier than 12:36 p.m. EST, Northrop Grumman is scheduled to launch its Cygnus spacecraft on an Antares rocket to the International Space Station (ISS), marking its 15th mission under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) program.

The launch, which will take place from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, will deliver thousands of pounds of critical supplies and research to the space station. Moreover, many of the payloads on this mission showcase the diversity of research sponsored by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, with investigations in the physical and life sciences, materials research, and the validation of new facilities that further research and development in low Earth orbit.

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