NASA Announces New Tipping Point Partnerships for Moon and Mars Technologies

Astrobotic is one of 14 companies selected for NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation. This illustration depicts CubeRover, an ultra-light, modular and scalable commercial rover.(Credit: Astrobotic/Carnegie Mellon University)

Astrobotic, Blue Origin, ExoTerra, Paragon and SpaceX among contract awardees for advanced technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies as partners whose technologies will help enable the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

The selections are based on NASA’s fourth competitive Tipping Point solicitation and have a combined total award value of about $43.2 million. This investment in the U.S. space industry, including small businesses across the country, will help bring the technologies to market and ready them for use by NASA.

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NASA Supports ‘Wild’ Ideas to Bring About New Space Tech

Swarm-Probe Enabling ATEG Reactor, or SPEAR, is a nuclear electric propulsion spacecraft concept that proposes a new, lightweight reactor moderator and advanced thermoelectric generators to deliver scientific payloads to anywhere in the solar system. SPEAR was selected in April 2019 as a NIAC Phase I. (Credit: Howe Industries LLC)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has a wild side. In fact, the agency has a program dedicated to nurturing visionary ideas that could transform future NASA missions with the creation of breakthroughs—radically better or entirely new aerospace concepts.

For years, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) has supported early-stage research through multiple phases of study, competitively selecting Phase I and follow-on Phase II projects each year.

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Astrobotic Awarded $5.6 Million NASA Contract to Deliver Autonomous Moon Rover

MoonRanger will traverse quickly over long distances using via autonomous surface navigation without communicating directly with Earth–a key breakthrough for short, two-week duration moon missions. (Credit: Astrobotic)

Astrobotic will lead development of MoonRanger with Carnegie Mellon University, a lunar rover that will test pioneering autonomy on the Moon

Pittsburgh, PA (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic was selected today by NASA’s Lunar Surface and Instrumentation and Technology Payload (LSITP) program to develop an autonomous lunar rover with its partner, Carnegie Mellon University. The 13 kilogram autonomous rover known as MoonRanger, is being developed to provide high fidelity 3D maps of the Moon’s surface in areas such as polar regions and lunar pits. It will demonstrate transformational high-speed, long-range, communication-denied autonomous lunar exploration.

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NASA Invests in Tech Concepts Aimed at Exploring Lunar Craters, Mining Asteroids

Illustration of the Skylight mission concept, a 2019 NIAC Phase III. (Credits: William Whittaker, Carnegie Mellon University)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Robotically surveying lunar craters in record time and mining resources in space could help NASA establish a sustained human presence at the Moon – part of the agency’s broader Moon to Mars exploration approach. Two mission concepts to explore these capabilities have been selected as the first-ever Phase III studies within the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program.

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NASA Selects Two New Space Tech Research Institutes for Smart Habitats

Habitation concept interior. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — As exploration missions venture beyond low-Earth orbit and to the Moon — and eventually Mars — NASA must consider automated technologies to keep habitats operational even when they are not occupied by astronauts. To help achieve this, NASA has selected two new Space Technology Research Institutes (STRIs) to advance space habitat designs using resilient and autonomous systems.

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Astrobotic Announces Selection of Two New NASA Research Contracts

Pittsburgh, Pa. (Astrobotic PR)  Astrobotic Technology Inc., announces $250,000 in new contract awards through NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

These two contracts, which were awarded to the company’s Future Missions and Technology (FM&T) department, will help the company develop novel technologies and strategies for the exploration of space and planetary surfaces.

Through an SBIR contract, “Software Defined Reliability for Low Cost Digital Signal Processors on Small Spacecraft” FM&T will address the needs of the growing space computing market for the next wave of robotic spaceflight customers with Astrobotic’s proprietary “Software Defined Reliability” (ASDR) technology.

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Astrobotic, Carnegie Mellon University Project Aims to Control Multiple Planetary Robots

CubeRover on the moon (Credit: Astrobotic)

Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University will develop methods that will allow planetary rovers to work together to explore the surface of other worlds under a NASA contract.

The space agency selected a proposal by the partners for funding under the Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) program. The 13-month contract is worth a maximum of $125,000.

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Astrobotic Awarded NASA Contract to Develop CubeRover for Lunar Missions

CubeRover on the moon (Credit: Astrobotic)

Pittsburgh, PA (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has been selected by NASA for a Phase II SBIR Award to develop CubeRover, a class of 2-kg rover platform capable of small-scale science and exploration on the Moon and other planetary surfaces. This new small rover platform complements Astrobotic’s lunar payload delivery service by providing a low-cost mobility capability to the lunar surface for customers around the world.

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Astrobotic to Develop CubeRover Standard for Planetary Surface Mobility

CubeRover on the moon (Credit: Astrobotic)

PITTSBURGH, May 4, 2017 (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has been selected by NASA to develop CubeRover, a class of 2-kg rover platforms capable of small-scale science and exploration on planetary surfaces. The team will design a CubeRover capable of evaluating lunar lander ejecta and characterizing surface mobility. CubeRover will establish a new standard for small-scale surface-deployable science and exploration platforms.

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NSRC Day 3 Summary

Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems' Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)
Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems’ Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference finished up today in Colorado. There were provider presentations from Masten Space Systems and Virgin Galactic. Three researchers also presented results from suborbital microgravity flights.

Below are summaries of the sessions based on Tweets.
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Astrobotic, Carnegie Mellon Awarded NASA STTR Funding

Astrobotic lander (Credit: Mark Maxwell)
Astrobotic lander (Credit: Mark Maxwell)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic Technology Inc., in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, announces $375,000 in contract awards through NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The three proposals will develop sensing and navigation technologies to expand capability for resource exploration on and under the surface of the Moon, Mars, and other planetary bodies.

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Masten’s Xombie Tests Sensors for Future Lunar Mission

Launch sequence collage of Masten Space Systems' XA-0.1B Xombie suborbital technology demonstration rocket during a NASA-sponsored flight and landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. (Credit: NASA Photo/Tom Tschida)
Launch sequence collage of Masten Space Systems’ XA-0.1B Xombie suborbital technology demonstration rocket during a NASA-sponsored flight and landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. (Credit: NASA Photo/Tom Tschida)

MOJAVE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) students developed a sensor package to analyze large pits in the surface of the moon or Mars that could lead to openings of caves. The package was launched recently on Masten Space Systems’ XA-0.1B Xombie suborbital technology demonstration rocket during a NASA-sponsored launch and landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California.

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