NASA Selects 14 Early Stage Innovations from US Universities for R&D

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Each year NASA selects and funds a number of university researchers to mature game-changing space technologies. The multi-year research and development projects could help develop super-cold space refrigerators and innovate ways to deal with hazardous lunar dust, among other objectives.

In late 2020, NASA selected 14 university-led research proposals to study early-stage technologies relevant to these topics. Each selection will receive up to $650,000 in grants from NASA’s Space Technology Research Grants program over up to three years, giving the university teams the time and resources to iterate multiple designs and solutions.

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New Sintering Method May Reduce Cost of ISRU Production for Earth, Moon and Mars

A durable new basalt tile uses a binding agent to reduce energy use. (Credit: PISCES)

HILO, HI (PR) — After nearly a year of research, Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) scientists have developed a new ISRU (in-situ resource utilization) process that significantly reduces the time and energy needed to produce sintered basalt products. The sintering temperature required to fuse raw particles into a cohesive material has been reduced by more than 20 percent.

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UNSW Partners with ispace to Accelerate a Lunar Economy

HAKUTO-R lander. (Credit: ispace)

SYDNEY, Australia (UNSW Sydney PR) — UNSW Sydney has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japanese lunar exploration company ispace, to jointly pursue research and development in space resources and infrastructure.

The MoU will enable UNSW and ispace to work together on areas of common interest, including technology development and space missions. UNSW students and staff could also participate in exchange programs.

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Dig In: NASA Challenge Seeks Innovations to Excavate Moon Resources

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — From garage inventors to university students and entrepreneurs, NASA is looking for ideas on how to excavate the Moon’s icy regolith, or dirt, and deliver it to a hypothetical processing plant at the lunar South Pole. The NASA Break the Ice Lunar Challenge, now open for registration, is designed to develop new technologies that could support a sustained human presence on the Moon by the end of the decade.

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British Engineers Work to Turn Moon Dust into Oxygen

ESA research fellow Alexandre Meurisse and Beth Lomax of the University of Glasgow producing oxygen and metal out of simulated moondust inside ESA’s Materials and Electrical Components Laboratory. (Credit: ESA–A. Conigili)

GLASGOW (ESA PR) — British engineers are fine-tuning a process that will be used to extract oxygen from lunar dust, leaving behind metal powders that could be 3D printed into construction materials for a Moon base.

It could be an early step to establishing an extra-terrestrial oxygen extraction plant. This would help to enable exploration and sustain life on the Moon while avoiding the enormous cost of sending materials from Earth.

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MOXIE Could Help Future Rockets Launch Off Mars

Engineers lower MOXIE into the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Perseverance rover carries a device to convert Martian air into oxygen that, if produced on a larger scale, could be used not just for breathing, but also for fuel.


PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — One of the hardest things about sending astronauts to Mars will be getting them home. Launching a rocket off the surface of the Red Planet will require industrial quantities of oxygen, a crucial part of propellant: A crew of four would need about 55,000 pounds (25 metric tons) of it to produce thrust from 15,000 pounds (7 metric tons) of rocket fuel.

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Kennedy to Partner with Previous NASA Challenge Winner for Lunar Research

Team AI SpaceFactory’s printer autonomously inserts a window into their 3D-printed subscale habitat structure at NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge, held at the Caterpillar Edwards Demonstration & Learning Center in Edwards, Illinois, May 1-4, 2019. (Credits: NASA/Emmett Given)

By Leejay Lockhart
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Building structures on other planets is challenging for many reasons, including that it is difficult to send supplies from Earth. Typical construction materials such as concrete and steel are too heavy and bulky to launch on a rocket to the Moon and especially Mars. A solution to that problem is using local materials already at the destination.

AI SpaceFactory – an architectural and construction technology company and winner of NASA’s 3D Printed Habitat Challenge – will collaborate with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to mature new planetary construction technologies. NASA announced the partnership, and 19 others across the agency, under the 2020  Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO).

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NASA Tipping Point Selections Include Cryogenic Fluid, Lunar Surface and Landing Tech

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following selections, organized by topic area, are based on NASA’s fifth competitive Tipping Point  solicitation and have an expected combined award value of more than $370 million. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) will negotiate with the companies to issue milestone-based firm-fixed price contracts lasting for up to five years.

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NASA Announces Partners to Advance ‘Tipping Point’ Technologies for the Moon, Mars

NASA and industry have developed and tested numerous technologies to enable long-term cryogenic fluid management, which is essential for establishing a sustainable presence on the Moon and helping crewed missions to Mars. For example, this 13-foot diameter cryogenic storage test tank evaluated technologies to reduce the evaporation or “boil off” propellant losses. Implementation of similar technologies in operational missions requires further maturation through in-space demonstrations. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies, including several small businesses, as partners to develop a range of technologies that will help forge a path to sustainable Artemis  operations on the Moon by the end of the decade.

U.S. industry submitted the proposals to NASA’s fifth competitive  Tipping Point solicitation, and the selections have an expected combined award value of more than $370 million. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate will negotiate with the companies to issue milestone-based firm fixed-price contracts lasting for up to five years.

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7 Nations Join U.S. in Signing the Artemis Accords

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — International cooperation on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program is taking a step forward today with the signing of the Artemis Accords between NASA and several partner countries. The Artemis Accords establish a practical set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation among nations participating in the agency’s 21st century lunar exploration plans.

“Artemis will be the broadest and most diverse international human space exploration program in history, and the Artemis Accords are the vehicle that will establish this singular global coalition,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “With today’s signing, we are uniting with our partners to explore the Moon and are establishing vital principles that will create a safe, peaceful, and prosperous future in space for all of humanity to enjoy.”

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Blue Origin Schedules Next New Shepard Launch for Thursday

The New Shepard (NS) booster lands after this vehicle’s fifth flight during NS-11 on May 2, 2019. (Credits: Blue Origin)

Next New Shepard Launch Will Test Key Technologies with NASA for Returning to the Moon 

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin’s next New Shepard mission (NS-13) is currently targeting liftoff for Thursday, September 24, at 10:00 am CDT / 15:00 UTC. Current weather conditions are favorable. This will be the 13th New Shepard mission and the 7th consecutive flight for this particular vehicle (a record), demonstrating its operational reusability. 

You can watch the launch live at BlueOrigin.com. The pre-show begins at T-30 minutes and will provide mission details, including a special update from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

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Basalt Launch Pad Tiles to Undergo Testing by NASA

Geology Tech Kyla Edison removes basalt tiles from their molds after being sintered. (Credit: PISCES)

HILO, Hawaii (PISCES PR) — The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES) completed a large batch of sintered basalt tiles last month for testing by NASA’s Swamp Works at Kennedy Space Center. Thirty tiles will be assessed as a launch and landing pad material. The testing will be conducted by Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif.

Earlier this year, Masten tested a 12” x 12” x 1” tile made by PISCES, subjecting it to a two-second rocket burst fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid methane. The results of the test caught the interest of Swamp Works, who requested the latest batch of tiles.

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Letter to Canadian Government on Space Mining

Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2

cc. Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources

20 April 2020

Dear Minister Champagne,

Re: US Executive Order on Recovery and Use of Space Resources

On 6 April 2020, the President of the United States signed an Executive Order on Encouraging International Support for the Recovery and Use of Space Resources (“Executive Order”).

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Vancouver Recommendations on Space Mining

Vancouver Recommendations on Space Mining
The Outer Space Institute
April 20, 2020

Background

Humanity is entering a new era of developing and utilizing Space that will likely include mining on the Moon, on near-Earth asteroids, and eventually on Mars. As part of this new era, a growing number of state and non-state actors are becoming capable of accessing and operating in Space.

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