Statement of Jason Crusan Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space, and Technology U. S. House of Representatives
Lunar CATALYST: Promoting Private Sector Robotic Exploration of the Moon
As part of the Agency’s overall strategy to conduct deep space exploration, NASA is also supporting the development of commercial lunar exploration. In 2014, NASA introduced an initiative called Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (CATALYST). The purpose of the initiative is to encourage the development of U.S. private-sector robotic lunar landers capable of successfully delivering payloads to the lunar surface using U.S. commercial launch capabilities.
NASA officials have been providing updates this week on agency programs and missions during the 2016 Small Satellite Conference and the CubeSat Workshop that preceded it. I have pulled together summaries of their presentations drawn from Twitter. Information has come from the following Tweeters:
I was conducting some research into Defense Department Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards to see what space and rocket projects it has been funding. I found a group of SBIR Phase I contracts awarded by DARPA in 2015, most of them related to the XS-1 launcher program. I don’t think I’ve written about them previously.
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has secured partnerships with 22 U.S. companies through two solicitations to advance the agency’s goals for robotic and human exploration of the solar system by shepherding the development of critical space technologies.
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Lunar IceCube has won a coveted slot as one of 12 diminutive secondary payloads to deploy during the first planned flight in 2018 of NASA’s next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) and the second for its Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle — an event that scientists say will signal a paradigm shift in interplanetary science.
So far, CubeSats have been used exclusively in Earth orbit. But, imagine a fleet of these tiny spacecraft fanning out to the moon and other deep-space destinations.
That’s what NASA has in mind. The space agency has just committed about $1.1 million to fund nine research projects that address different deep-space cubesat technologies. The funding is part of the NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Select Phase 1 grants announced earlier this week.
Continuing our look NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research Phase II program, we examine three proposals for advanced propulsion technologies that the agency has selected for awards.
NASA selected the Busek Company, of Nantick, Mass., for two SBIR Phase II awards. One involves the development and testing of a flight-weight, 5N-class green monopropellant thruster. The second involves the development of a high-throughput nominal 100-W Hall effect thruster.
The space agency also selected a proposal submitted by CU Aerospace of Champaign, Ill., to develop its CubeSat High Impulse Propulsion System (CHIPS). The company is also using a non-toxic propellant in the system.