NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program Phase I Award: Up to $125,000 for 9 Months
Geoffrey Landis NASA Glenn Research Center
Launching ultra-miniature probes to fly past an exoplanet a nearby star using a laser-pushed sail is now being seriously discussed as a mission, primarily by the “Breakthrough Starshot” program. An interstellar probe will require power for both observations and communications when it reaches the target exoplanet system… but the proposed mission gives a mass allocation that is milligrams, far less than the mass of any real-world power system. We propose harvesting power from the motion of the spacecraft as it passes through the target system’s ambient environment.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is lagging behind three other agency centers when it comes to transferring technology to the private sector, according to a new audit by the Office of Inspector General. [Full Report]
“Goddard…is experiencing poor technology transfer performance outcomes when compared to the other three NASA Centers we reviewed, to include a lower percentage of licenses as well as delays in processing of [New Technology Reports] and patent applications,” the audit said.
NASA is considering the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to expand its space communications network.
“The use of PPPs allow NASA and commercial entities to work as partners (as compared to a typical Government-contractor relationship) to develop and introduce new operational capabilities that NASA user missions might use, by shared investment, standards, and risks,” the agency said in a notice published on the federal acquisitions website.
“These new capabilities may help foster the growth of the commercial satellite communications relay services market (from low Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond) and provide benefits to future NASA missions in alignment with NASA envisioned Next Generation Architecture,” the notice said.
NASA Glenn Research Center is seeking proposals for trade studies and conceptual system designs and descriptions. The objectives include:
“Commercial service concepts
Determine the architecture and service concepts for optical and RF space services and develop the service management and operations aspects for mission users.
“Accommodations of the NASA provided optical payload/terminals
Determine the factors to incorporate NASA’s optical technology onto commercial spacecraft and the associated commercial space services.
“Public-private partnership for providing and receiving communication services
Determine costs, benefits, and terms for the Government and commercial partner with balanced risk. Assess market expectations, non-Government customer aspects, timeline, transition, and cost factors.”
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — As part of the agency’s Exploration Campaign, NASA’s Gateway will become the orbital outpost for robotic and human exploration operations in deep space. Built with commercial and international partners, the Gateway will support exploration on and near the Moon, and beyond, including Mars.
Note:Technology Demonstration Missions “Bridge Builders” are team members at NASA centers and partner organizations who help take various groundbreaking, cutting-edge technologies from concept to flight readiness — bridging the gap to help NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the agency and the aerospace community enable rewarding new missions in space.
As an experienced electric propulsion team lead at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, he was a natural choice for the SEP project’s electric propulsion system lead, providing technical oversight for all activities tied to the project — an alternative to using conventional chemical systems to send spacecraft to distant destinations and resupply remote science outposts anywhere in the solar system.
CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — NASA and the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have successfully demonstrated a new nuclear reactor power system that could enable long-duration crewed missions to the Moon, Mars and destinations beyond.
The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program recently awarded 25 grants for the development of visionary new technologies. Here we’re going to take a closer look at the following three Phase II awards focused on new ways of exploring asteroids and moons.
Dismantling Rubble Pile Asteroids with AoES (Area-of-Effect Soft-bots) Jay McMahon University of Colorado, Boulder
Triton Hopper: Exploring Neptune’s Captured Kuiper Belt Object Steven Oleson NASA Glenn Research Center
NIMPH: Nano Icy Moons Propellant Harvester Michael VanWoerkom ExoTerra Resource
Each award is worth up to $500,000 for a two-year study. Descriptions of the awards are below. (more…)
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA is investing in technology concepts that include meteoroid impact detection, space telescope swarms, and small orbital debris mapping technologies that may one day be used for future space exploration missions.
The agency selected 25 early-stage technology proposals that have the potential to transform future human and robotic exploration missions, introduce new exploration capabilities, and significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.
CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — When astronauts someday venture to the Moon, Mars and other destinations, one of the first and most important resources they will need is power. A reliable and efficient power system will be essential for day-to-day necessities, such as lighting, water and oxygen, and for mission objectives, like running experiments and producing fuel for the long journey home.
That’s why NASA is conducting experiments on Kilopower, a new power source that could provide safe, efficient and plentiful energy for future robotic and human space exploration missions.
LAS VEGAS (NASA PR) — NASA and its partners will host a news conference at noon EST (9 a.m. PST) Thursday, Jan. 18, at the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, to discuss a recent experiment involving a new power source that could provide the safe, efficient and plentiful energy needed for future robotic and human space exploration missions.
Audio of the news conference and presentation slides will stream live on NASA’s website.
Representatives from NASA, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) Los Alamos National Laboratory and Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) will discuss and take questions on the Kilopower project, which aims to demonstrate space fission power systems technology that has the potential to enable future crewed surface missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. Testing began in November 2017 and is expected to continue through March.
The Kilopower project is part of NASA’s Game Changing Development program and is led by the agency’s Glenn Research Center, in partnership with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Los Alamos, NNSS and the Y-12 National Security Complex.
CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — NASA has selected five U.S. companies to conduct four-month studies for a power and propulsion element that could be used as part of the deep space gateway concept.
The agency is studying the gateway concept with U.S. industry and space station partners for potential future collaborations. These latest studies will help provide data on commercial capabilities as NASA defines objectives and requirements as well as help reduce risk for a new powerful and efficient solar electric propulsion (SEP) technology in deep space.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (University of Michigan PR) — An advanced space engine in the running to propel humans to Mars has broken the records for operating current, power and thrust for a device of its kind, known as a Hall thruster.
The development of the thruster was led by Alec Gallimore, University of Michigan professor of aerospace engineering and the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering.
CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — As NASA looks to explore deeper into our solar system, one of the key areas of interest is studying worlds that can help researchers better understand our solar system and the universe around us. One of the next destinations in this knowledge-gathering campaign is a rare world located in the asteroid belt called Psyche.