NASA Funds 3 Small Business Projects Focused on In-situ Use of Lunar Resources

Astronaut working on the moon (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected three companies to continue development of technologies that will allow Artemis astronauts to extract oxygen from and 3D print parts using lunar regolith under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The Phase II awards to Blueshift, L’Garde and Air Squared are worth up to $750,000 apiece over 24 months. Each company previously received Phase I awards to begin developing the technologies.

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ESRIC Unveils First Five Start-ups Selected as Part of “Start-up Support Programme”

ESCH-SUR-ALZETTE, Luxembourg (ESRIC PR) — Following the first call for applications, the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) has selected the five start-ups to participate in the “Start-up Support Programme” (SSP) and begin their pre-incubation in April 2022.

Based in Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg, ESRIC is Europe’s leading research and innovation centre in the field of space resources. Launched in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), and Technoport (Luxembourg’s main technology incubator), ESRIC’s Start-up Support Programme (SSP) aims to support early-stage start-ups in the space resources sector, to develop their business models, attract their first customers and secure their first investments. Targeting terrestrial and/or space applications, the Start-up Support Programme is managed jointly with ESA.

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New UK Space Funds to Pioneer New Approaches to Energy, Communication and Resources

British space technology will help pioneer new approaches to energy, communications and resources, thanks to new projects from the UK Space Agency

LONDON (UK Space Agency PR) — Science and Innovation Minister George Freeman announced the £2 million boost for 13 new projects during British Science Week (11-20 March), which aims to inspire interest in and celebrate science, engineering, technology and maths for people of all ages.

The projects include Rolls-Royce developing a power station for space that could power the generation of water, breathable oxygen and fuels for solar exploration.

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Team Chosen to Make First Oxygen on the Moon

The European Large Logistic Lander touches down on the moon. (Credit: ESA/ATG-Medialab)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Following a competition, ESA has selected the industrial team that will design and build the first experimental payload to extract oxygen from the surface of the Moon. The winning consortium, led by Thales Alenia Space in the UK, has been tasked with producing a small piece of equipment that will evaluate the prospect of building larger lunar plants to extract propellant for spacecraft and breathable air for astronauts – as well as metallic raw materials for equipment.

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NSF Awards Grant to Emerging Futures to Develop Lunar Landing Pad Material

Portland, Ore., March 10, 2022 (Emerging Futures PR) — Emerging Futures, LLC, a research and analysis consultancy focused on climate change mitigation and the commercial expansion of space, has been awarded a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) 2021-2022 Phase I Grant from the National Science Foundation.

This Grant enables Emerging Futures to continue developing its PolyBrick™ polymer-regolith composite lunar landing pad concept. This innovative, sustainable, and scalable material will be constructed entirely from lunar materials.

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NASA Funds Research into Advanced Oxygen Generation on Mars

Graphic depiction of Breathing Mars Air: Stationary and Portable O2 Generation. (Credits: Ivan Ermanoski)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is funding research into a system capable of generating oxygen on Mars far more efficiently than the one the space agency tested aboard the Curiosity rover.

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Thales Alenia Space Wins Study Contract to Develop Payload to Extract Oxygen on the Moon

Lunar lander with in-situ resource utilization system to extract oxygen from regolith. (Credit: Redwire Space Europe)

Selected by the European Space Agency, Thales Alenia Space leads study to develop a demonstration payload to extract oxygen from Moon rock

BRISTOL, UK, February 23, 2022 (Thales Alenia Space PR) – Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has signed a study contract with the European Space Agency worth one million euros for a payload concept to extract oxygen from Moon rock.

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NASA Selects Futuristic Space Technology Concepts for Early Study

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — An astronaut steps into a body scanner and, hours later, walks on Mars in a custom-made spacesuit, breathing oxygen that was extracted from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere. On Venus, an inflatable bird-like drone swoops through the sky, studying the planet’s atmosphere and weather patterns. Ideas like these are currently science fiction, but they could one day become reality, thanks to a new round of grants awarded by NASA.

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Five Space Station Research Results Contributing to Deep Space Exploration

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst works on the MICS experiment aboard the International Space Station. Observations of how cement reacts in space during the hardening process may help engineers better understand its microstructure and material properties, which could improve cement processing techniques on Earth and lead to the design of safe, lightweight space habitats. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — More than 3,000 experiments have been conducted aboard the  International Space Station during the 21 years humans have been living and working in space. These experiments have provided insights helping improve life back on Earth and explore farther into the solar system. Researchers have shared these results in thousands of scientific publications.

Over the past few months, scientists shared the outcomes of space station studies that could help us recover more water from life support systems, construct Moon bases, grow plants in space, and more.

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France-Luxembourg Space Cooperation Agreement to Focus on Exploration and Space Resources

LUXEMBOURG (Luxembourg Space Agency PR) — CNES, the Luxembourg Space Agency (LSA), the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC) and Air Liquide signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) confirming their commitment to work together on developing research and technology (R&T) activities. In the months ahead, the four partners will be pursuing their discussions on research projects encompassing space exploration and in situ resource utilization (ISRU).

A first CNES-LSA workshop in September 2020 identified joint initiatives aiming in particular to address the challenges and opportunities arising out of developments in space exploration. At the same time, LSA, ESRIC and Air Liquide, drawing on a 50-year heritage of handling gases in space, engaged discussions with a view to collaborating on production and use of gases produced from in situ space resources.

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Break the Ice: Masten Designs Rocket Mining System to Extract Lunar Water

Mining system on the moon. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten PR) — At Masten, we’re working to accelerate the realization of space ecosystems on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Our goal is to unlock the value in space to ultimately benefit humans on Earth. So how do we achieve that? First, we’ll enable regular, sustainable access to the lunar surface. Then, we’ll make it possible to extract and utilize extraterrestrial resources, such as water, methane, and rare-Earth metals. These resources can be used not only for fuel and power, but they also open the door to new commercial applications and technology innovations that can help preserve our resources on Earth.

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ispace Applauds Japan’s Passage of Space Resources Law

The Law Concerning the Promotion of Business Activities Related to the Exploration and Development of Space Resources was passed by the National Diet of Japan 

Tokyo, Japan, June 15 – ispace, inc. (ispace) issued the following statement regarding the passage of the Law Concerning the Promotion of Business Activities Related to the Exploration and Development of Space Resources by the National Diet of Japan on June 15, 2021. 

Statement by Takeshi Hakamada, Founder & CEO, ispace: 

“We enthusiastically support the passage of Japan’s space resources law and applaud the nonpartisan parliamentary group of diet members for taking a swift action to lead the world in this endeavor, alongside other nations who have recently passed similar legislation or who may be in preparations to do so. I am very certain that this rule making effort will bring opportunities and  order to commercial activities and should offer a strong sense of the future growth of our industry, as well as the sustainable future of humanity, to many stakeholders worldwide.” 

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NASA Selects University Teams to Develop Moon, Mars Mission Design Ideas

NASA, in partnership with the National Space Grant Foundation, has selected six university teams to develop innovative design ideas that will help NASA advance and execute its Moon to Mars exploration objectives. 

The selections are a part of the 2022 Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (M2M X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge, sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division. The winning teams will be given monetary awards ranging from $15,000-$50,000 to assist them in designing and producing studies, research findings, or functional products that could advance capabilities and lower technology risks related to NASA’s Moon to Mars space exploration missions. 

This year’s winning M2M X-Hab Challenge teams will design, manufacture, assemble, test, and demonstrate functional prototype subsystems and innovations that enable increased functionality for human space exploration missions in the following areas: 

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Extracts First Oxygen from Red Planet

Technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory lower the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument into the belly of the Perseverance rover. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — The growing list of “firsts” for Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen. A toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task. The test took place April 20, the 60th Martian day, or sol, since the mission landed Feb. 18.

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