Pioneer Astronautics Receives NASA Funding to Develop Lunar Technologies

NASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for funding to develop a new battery and gas spectrometer specially designed for use on the moon. The awards under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program are worth up to $125,000 apiece over six months.

“The Lunar Flow Battery (LFB) is a scalable, long-duration energy storage solution featuring minimum capacity fade over many cycles that uses electrolytes derived from lunar regolith to minimize launch mass,” the Colorado-based company said in its proposal summary.

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NASA Awards Research Funding for In-Situ Resource Utilization on Mars

NASA’s InSight spacecraft flipped open the lens cover on its Instrument Context Camera (ICC) on Nov. 30, 2018, and captured this view of Mars. Located below the deck of the InSight lander, the ICC has a fisheye view, creating a curved horizon. Some clumps of dust are still visible on the camera’s lens. One of the spacecraft’s footpads can be seen in the lower right corner. The seismometer’s tether box is in the upper left corner. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Although NASA has the moon clearly in its sight, the space agency continues to fund technologies that will use in-situ resources to facilitate human missions to Mars.

NASA has selected OxEon Energy and Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for Small Business Innovation Research Phase II (SBIR) awards for technology that would extract carbon dioxide from the martian atmosphere to produce oxygen and fuel. The contracts are worth up to $750,000 over two years.

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Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics Selected for NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

NASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards to continue developing technologies to further human missions to deep space and  Mars. Each award is worth up to $750,000 over two years.

“The Advanced Organic Waste Gasifier (AOWG) is a technology designed to convert organic wastes generated during human spaceflight into clean water for mission consumables and gases suitable for venting to minimize vehicle mass for Mars transit and return missions,” the company said in a proposal summary.

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NASA’s Lunar Plans Panned by National Space Council’s Users Group

The Lunar Gateway formerly known as the Deep Space Gateway (Credit: NASA)

SpaceNews reports that NASA’s plan to put a lunar gateway in orbit around the moon and get astronauts down to the surface in 2028 took quite a pounding from some members of the National Space Council’s Users’ Advisory Group during the body’s first meeting last week.

“Personally, I think 2028 for humans on the moon, that’s 10 years from now. It just seems like it’s so far off,” said former astronaut Eileen Collins. “We can do it sooner.”
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Pioneer Astronautics Selected for NASA Small Business Award

Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics has been selected for a NASA small business award to begin development of a system to extract soil from martian soil.

“The Advanced Mars Water Acquisition System (AMWAS) recovers and purifies water from Mars soils for oxygen and fuel production, life support, food production, and radiation shielding in support of human exploration missions,” the proposal states. “The AMWAS removes water from Mars soils using hot, recirculating carbon dioxide gas to provide rapid heat transfer. The AMWAS evaporates water from ice and salt hydrates, leaving dissolved contaminants in the soil residue.”

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Student Rocketry Teams Compete for FAR-MARS Prize

FAR_logoMOJAVE, Calif. (FAR/Mars Society PR) – Student-built rockets will streak into the stratosphere in Spring, 2018 as college and university engineering teams from around the world compete for $100,000 in prizes in a contest sponsored jointly by the Mars Society, headquartered in Denver, CO and the California-based Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR), officers announced today.

The FAR-MARS Prize will grant $50,000 to the team whose bi-propellant liquid-fueled rocket comes closest to reaching 45,000 feet (13,716 meters). A second $50,000 prize will go to the team that comes closest to hitting that same altitude with a rocket-powered by liquid-methane and liquid-oxygen, announced Robert Zubrin, president of the Mars Society, and Mark Holthaus, director and treasurer of FAR. “If one team can achieve both goals with the same rocket, they’ll win both prizes totaling $100,000,” Holthaus said.

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Pioneer Astronautics Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

pioneer_astronautics_logoBob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics has been selected for two NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards to continue development of a system to extract volatile elements from asteroids and a new rocket engine.

Pioneer’s Carbonaceous Asteroid Volatile Recovery (CAVoR) system “produces water and hydrogen-rich syngas for propellant production, life support consumables, and manufacturing from in-situ resources in support of advanced space exploration,” according to the project’s technical abstract.

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Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics Selected for 2 SBIR Phase I Contracts

pioneer_astronautics_logoNASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for two small business awards to fund the development of a system to extract water and other volatiles from asteroids and a new rocket engine for spacecraft.

“The Carbonaceous Asteroid Volatile Recovery (CAVoR) system extracts water and volatile organic compounds for propellant production, life support consumables, and manufacturing from in-situ resources in support of advanced space exploration,” according to the proposal. “The CAVoR thermally extracts ice and water bound to clays minerals, which is then combined with small amounts of oxygen to gasify organic matter contained in carbonaceous chondrite asteroids.

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Zubrin Challenges Chang Diaz to Debate Over Mars Exploration, VASIMR Engine

Mars_Soil
There seems to be a trend of prominent space experts challenging each other to debates.

First, New Horizons Supremo Alan Stern challenged Neil deGrasse Tyson to debate whether Pluto should be restored to planetary status. Stern, whose mission will explore Pluto next year, believes it should be elevated from dwarf planet status. Tyson, the driving force behind Pluto’s demotion, refused to debate the subject.

Now, it’s Robert Zubrin’s turn. The Mars Society president has challenged Ad Astra Rocket Company Founder Franklin Chang-Diaz to a debate over how to best explore Mars. Near as I can tell from the press release, it would give Zubrin a chance to demonstrate that Ad Astra’s plasma-based VASIMR engine, which Chang Diaz is promoting for rapid trips to Mars, is pretty much a fraud.

Wow, who could turn down an invitation like that?

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This Week on The Space Show

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This week on The Space Show with Dr. David Livingston:

1. Monday, March 10, 2014, 2-3:30 PM PDT(5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. ERIC SEEDHOUSE regarding his new book, “Suborbital: Industry at the Edge of Space.”

2. THURSDAY, March 13, 2014:, 7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): We welcome back DR. ROBERT ZUBRIN regarding the Mars Society Mars Artic 365 campaign.

3. Friday, March 14, 2014, 9:30-11 AM PDT (12:30-2 PM EDT; 11:30 AM-1 PM CDT): We welcome ROBERT WALKER for more on artificial gravity and his space articles published on www.science20.com/space.

4. Sunday, March 16, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT). DR. DOUG PLATA returns to discuss his Cislunar One concept and trades.

Bob Zubrin Drops by The Space Show


This week on The Space Show with David Livingston…

1. Monday, Feb. 20, 2011 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. JEFF BELL for policy, news, & NASA budget perspectives.

2. Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012, 7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. BOB ZUBRIN to discuss his new books, the proposed FY13 NASA budger and Mars program. Read Bob’s latest article about the Mars program and the FY 13 budget on the National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com/articles/291099/obama-wrecks-mars-program-robert-zubrin.

3. Friday, Feb. 24 , 2012, 9:30-11 AM PST (2:30-2 PM EST, 11:30AM-1PM CST) : We welcome DR. JAMES BICKFORD to discuss his antimatter research and advanced propulsion. Dr. Bickford is with Draper Labs.

4. Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, 1–3 PM PST (3-5 CST PM, 4-6 PM EST). We welcome back MARK WHITTINGTON for policy, budget perspectives, and more.

Bob Zubrin’s Company Snags Three SBIR Awards for Lunar, Martian Projects

NASA recently announced that it would be conducting contract negotiations for 350 projects under its SBIR and STTR programs, which are aimed at promoting space technology development and transfer by small businesses. Parabolic Arc will be looking at a number of the proposals involving NewSpace companies that it regularly covers or which encompass interesting technologies.

This post looks at Pioneer Pioneer Astronautics, a Colorado-based company run by Mars Society Founder Robert Zubrin. NASA selected three of the company’s SBIR proposals, including ones related to nitrous oxide micro-engines, Martian water extraction, and lunar oxygen production. Descriptions follow after the break.

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Bob Zubrin, Alan Ladwig Drop By The Space Show

This week on The Space Show:

Monday, April 26, 2010, 2-3:30 PM PDT: We welcome back Dr. William (Bill) Rowe to talk about the possibility of gene modification for long duration human spaceflight.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 7- 8:30 PM PDT: We welcome back Dr. Robert Zubrin, Founder of the Mars Society, to the program. Dr. Zubrin will be addressing US space policy and more.

Friday, April 30, 2010, 9:30-11:30 AM PDT: We welcome Alan Ladwig back to the program. Mr. Ladwig is currently a political appointee of the Obama Administration serving in the Office of Public Affairs as Deputy Associate Administrator for Public Outreach at NASA Headquarters. He served on the NASA Review Team for the Obama transition and upon his return to the Agency served as a Senior Adviser to the Administrator.

Sunday, May 2, 12-1:30 PM PDT. We welcome back Dr. Neville Marzwell to the program to discuss the results of his college recruiting tour and the realities facing space and STEM education in the US today. Don’t miss this important discussion.

Space Show to Host Zubrin, Others

The schedule for The Space Show this week:

Monday, Sept. 21, 2009; 2-3:30 PM PDT: Al Reisz discusses the need to explore space & do more for space propulsion (including his Electron Cyclotron Resonance [ECR] space engine.

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009, 7-8:30 PM PDT: Scott Green of the Next Step Space Coalition.

Friday, Sept. 25, 2009, 9:30-11:30 AM PDT : Dr. Robert Zubrin returns to discuss the Augustine report and its budget analysis.

4. Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009, 12-1:30 PM PDT: We welcome student winners with the Conrad Foundation to discuss their winning projects and more.