WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected four U.S. small businesses to mature a range of technologies for sustainable exploration of the Moon under the Artemis program. Through Artemis, the first woman and next man will land on the Moon in 2024. Later in the decade, NASA and its partners will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon.
New high-impulse thrusters and communications technologies that will facilitate missions by groups of spacecraft beyond Earth orbit are among the small satellite technologies that NASA is funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
The space agency selected six research and development projects for SBIR Phase II funding. The awards are for up to $750,000 over two years.
Three of the proposals focus on small satellite thrusters. Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation (AASC) of Oakland, California will continue to develop its high-impulse metal plasma thrusters for use on CubeSat missions.
In May 2016, the Game Changing Development Program’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) project completed TRL 6 milestone testing on its key deliverable, an integrated deep-space flight laser transmitter assembly. Proposed on several Discovery missions, the technology undergoes a transition review in June and is expected to advance to NASA’s Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) program.
NASA has selected three projects for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards that focus on propulsion, laser communications and attitude control for advanced CubeSat missions.
Digital Solid State Propulsion of Reno, Nev., and QorTek of Williamsburgh, Pa., was selected for a SBIR awards worth up to $750,000 apiece for their propulsion and attitude control proposals., respectively. Fibertek of Herndon, Va., was chosen for a SBIR Select award worth up to $1.5 million.
Phase III, or the commercialization of an innovation, may occur after successful completion of Phase II.
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.