NASA has selected Honeybee Robotics for four Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and one Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR) Phase I contracts, including one that would help develop a resource prospecting spacecraft capable of refueling itself using in-situ resources.
The five proposals include:
- The World is Not Enough (WINE): Harvesting Local Resources for Eternal Exploration of Space (STTR)
- Planetary Volatiles Extractor for In Situ Resource Utilization (SBIR)
- Development of a Hermetically Sealed Canister for Sample Return Missions (SBIR)
- Lunar Heat Flow Probe (SBIR)
- Miniaturized System-in-Package Motor Controller for Spacecraft and Orbital Instruments (SBIR)
WINE, which is being done with the University of Central Florida in Orlando, involves a 3D-printed CubeSat that would be able to refuel itself by extracting in-situ resources. The spacecraft would be able to land on an asteroid or moon, examine the location, and fly to another location using the water it extracted in its thruster system.