A Look at NASA’s Plans to Explore the Moon

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

Statement of Jason Crusan
Director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

before the

Subcommittee on Space
Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
U. S. House of Representatives

SELECTED EXCERPTS

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.

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Smallsat 2016: NASA Program & Mission Updates

Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)
Two three-unit (3U) CubeSats. At about a foot in length and four inches wide, these are similar in design to IceCube and the five selected heliophysics CubeSats. (Credit: NASA)

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:

  • Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
  • David Hurst ‏@OrbitalDave
  • Hanna Steplewska ‏@spacesurfingirl
  • Augie Allen ‏@AugieAllen
  • RITSpaceExploration ‏@RITSPEX

Enjoy!
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NASA Selects CubeSat & NanoSat Proposals for SBIR & STTR Awards

Two ESA CubeSats, the student-built AAUSat-5 and the professional technology demonstrator GomX-3, were deployed together from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015, going on to separate to begin their missions. (Credit: NASA)
Two ESA CubeSats, the student-built AAUSat-5 and the professional technology demonstrator GomX-3, were deployed together from the International Space Station on 5 October 2015, going on to separate to begin their missions. (Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected at at least 28 proposals involving Cube-, nano- and micro-sats for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Phase I awards.

The total includes 23 SBIR and five STTR projects. Companies are partnered with university researchers for the STTR awards.

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DARPA SBIR Awards for XS-1 & Rocket Technologies

XS-1 vehicle (Credit: Boeing)
XS-1 vehicle (Credit: Boeing)

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.

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Lunar IceCube Wins Slot on Exploration Mission-1

Goddard scientists Avi Mandell and Dennis Reuter are developing the BIRCHES instrument for the new Lunar IceCube mission. (Credit: NASA)
Goddard scientists Avi Mandell and Dennis Reuter are developing the BIRCHES instrument for the new Lunar IceCube mission. (Credit: NASA)

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.

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NASA CubeSat & Smallsat SBIR, STTR Phase I Awards

CubeSat
CubeSat

NASA is continuing to fund the development of CubeSat and smallsat technology through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

Last week, the agency announced it had selected at least 20 research projects focused on these classes of satellites. The proposals were selected for SBIR, SBIR Select and STTR Phase I awards.

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NASA Eyes Sending CubeSats into Deep Space

CubeSat
CubeSat

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

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.

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NASA Selects Green Propulsion Projects for SBIR Phase II Awards

CubeSat
CubeSat

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.

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