NASA Selects Two Companies to Help Take Out the Deep Space Trash

Sierra Nevada Corporation has evolved heat melt compaction technology from initial development and demonstration efforts to the design of the Trash Compaction and Processing System planned for testing aboard the International Space Station.
(Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and UTC Aerospace Systems (UTAS) to develop systems that can reduce trash volume, and process the resulting atmosphere contaminants during deep space missions. The U.S. companies responded to NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Appendix F: Logistics Reduction (LR) in Space by Trash Compaction and Processing System (TCPS) Broad Agency Announcement, issued in July.

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Sierra Nevada Completes Key Step for NASA’s NextSTEP-2 Long-Duration Space Travel Study

Concept image of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s habitation prototype, based on its Dream Chaser cargo module. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., August 9, 2018 (Sierra Nevada PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) completed a NASA study for the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE), which is the first module planned to be launched for NASA’s Gateway in lunar orbit. The study was performed under one of SNC’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) contracts. SNC plans to submit a bid to win the NASA contract when the agency issues its formal solicitation for the element later this year.

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Aethera Technologies, CSA Sign $1.5 Million R&D Contract Boosting Ad Astra’s VASIMR Development

WEBSTER, Texas USA and Halifax, NS, Canada (Aethera Technologies/Ad Astra Rocket Company PR) – A $1.5 million funding agreement has been signed between Aethera Technologies Limited of Halifax, NS and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for the development of advanced high-power radiofrequency (RF) power processing units for Ad Astra’s VASIMR® engine.

The agreement, announced by the CSA on May 25, 2018, adds a major boost to Aethera’s RF power processing unit (RF-PPU) development program. The critical and innovative technology outcomes from this program supports the ongoing partnership between Ad Astra and Aethera to develop advanced, high-power, in-space electric propulsion.

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Made in Space Eyes Glass Alloy Production & Modular Science Platforms in Orbit

Made in Space (MIS) will develop systems for the production of glass alloys in microgravity, the assembly and refurbishment of modular platforms in orbit, and the in-space manufacturing of large structures for infrared space interferometry missions with the help of NASA funding.

The three projects were among five Made in Space proposals that NASA selected for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program. Each contract is worth up to $125,000 over 13 months.

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NASA Selects US Companies to Advance Space Resource Collection

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2018 (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 10 companies to conduct studies and advance technologies to collect, process and use space-based resources for missions to the Moon and Mars. NASA placed a special emphasis on encouraging the responders to find new applications for existing, terrestrial capabilities that could result in future space exploration capabilities at lower costs.

The practice of in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) could increase safety and affordability of future human spaceflight missions by limiting the need to launch supplies, such as oxygen and water from Earth. NASA issued Appendix D of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement on Dec. 4, 2017. With it, the agency sought three areas of work focused on producing propellant and other exploration mission consumables using water from extraterrestrial soils and carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere.

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Made in Space Selected for 2 NASA SBIR Awards

NASA has selected two proposals from Made in Space focused on producing advanced crystals and high-strength components for funding under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Each two-year Phase II is worth up to $750,000.

The Industrial Crystallization Facility (ICF) would produce “nonlinear optical single crystals and other relatively large material formulations, such as bulk single-crystal thin films and high temperature optical fiber,” according to the proposal.

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A Closer Look at NASA’s Proposed Human Exploration Plan

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would launch the first element of a human-tended Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway in 2022 under a proposed exploration plan that would make use of commercial and international partnerships.

A power and propulsion module would be followed soon afterward by habitation, airlock, and logistics modules. The gateway would serve as a base for astronauts to explore the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 lifted off from the surface in 1972.

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Sierra Nevada Contract Continued on Advanced Plant Growth for NASA

Plant growth prototype developed during Phase 1 of the contract. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev., February 1, 2017 (SNC PR) – Under a contract modification, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) will focus on the development of advanced bio-based life support and food production systems for NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP).  SNC will continue its public-private partnership with NASA to develop its Hybrid Life Support System (HLSS) for application in microgravity space environments.

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A Look at NASA’s Deep Space Exploration Plans


Last month NASA officials gave a series of presentations about the space agency’s deep-space exploration plans to the NASA Advisory Council’s Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Committee. I have excerpted slides from those presentations to provide an overview of what the space agency is planning.
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NASA Selects 3 Companies to Develop Prototype Space FabLab

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — NASA is taking the next step in the development of a space-based, on-demand fabrication capability by partnering with three U.S. companies, under NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, to create prototypes.

The selected companies are: Interlog Corporation of Anaheim, California; Techshot, Inc. of Greeneville, Indiana; and Tethers Unlimited, Inc. of Bothell, Washington. Combined funding for the awards is approximately $10.2 million. These companies will have 18 months to deliver the prototype, after which NASA will select partners to further mature the technologies.

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NASA, Roscosmos Sign Agreement on Deep Space Exploration

Boeing Deep Space Gateway (Credit: Boeing)

ADELAIDE, Australia (NASA PR) — Building a strategic capability for advancing and sustaining human space exploration in the vicinity of the Moon will require the best from NASA, interested international partners, and U.S. industry. As NASA continues formulating the deep space gateway concept, the agency signed a joint statement with the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.

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Ad Astra Completes NextSTEP Milestones for Year Two

WEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra PR) — Ad Astra Rocket Company has successfully completed all contract milestones and deliverables for the second of its three-year Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) contract with NASA. The 9 million dollar, fixed-price contract remains on schedule and on budget. After a successful year-two performance review at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. on July 24, 2017 and completion of a 10-hour cumulative test of the 200SSTM rocket at 100kW, Ad Astra received NASA approval to proceed with year-three activities.

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Lockheed Martin to Build Prototype of NASA Cis-Lunar Habitat

Lockheed Martin artist rendering of the NextSTEP habitat docked with Orion in cislunar orbit as part of a concept for the Deep Space Gateway. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 20, 2017 (Lockheed Martin PR) — Refurbishing a shuttle-era cargo container used to transfer cargo to the International Space Station, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is prototyping a deep space habitat for NASA at Kennedy Space Center. This prototype will integrate evolving technologies to keep astronauts safe while onboard and operate the spacecraft autonomously when unoccupied.

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NASA Seeks Industry’s Concepts for Deep Space Power, Propulsion

Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has issued two documents to help the agency identify current capabilities, as well as areas requiring additional study for advanced power and propulsion spacecraft within the American aerospace industry. This advanced technology is needed to support NASA’s deep space exploration goals.

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NanoRacks and NASA Sign NextSTEP Contract for Commercial Habitat Concept Study

Concept image representing the feasibility study that NanoRacks will conduct related to converting a launch vehicle’s upper stage into a habitable volume. (Credit: NanoRacks)

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) — This week marks an important milestone for NanoRacks. NanoRacks and NASA have signed the contract for Ixion, a commercial habitat concept study first announced last summer.

The contract will focus on repurposing spent launch vehicle upper stages. NanoRacks is working with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide launch services and Space Systems Loral who will provide robotic outfitting capabilities.

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