Pioneer Astronautics Receives NASA Funding to Develop Lunar Technologies

NASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for funding to develop a new battery and gas spectrometer specially designed for use on the moon. The awards under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program are worth up to $125,000 apiece over six months.

“The Lunar Flow Battery (LFB) is a scalable, long-duration energy storage solution featuring minimum capacity fade over many cycles that uses electrolytes derived from lunar regolith to minimize launch mass,” the Colorado-based company said in its proposal summary.

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NASA Awards Research Funding for In-Situ Resource Utilization on Mars

NASA’s InSight spacecraft flipped open the lens cover on its Instrument Context Camera (ICC) on Nov. 30, 2018, and captured this view of Mars. Located below the deck of the InSight lander, the ICC has a fisheye view, creating a curved horizon. Some clumps of dust are still visible on the camera’s lens. One of the spacecraft’s footpads can be seen in the lower right corner. The seismometer’s tether box is in the upper left corner. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Although NASA has the moon clearly in its sight, the space agency continues to fund technologies that will use in-situ resources to facilitate human missions to Mars.

NASA has selected OxEon Energy and Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for Small Business Innovation Research Phase II (SBIR) awards for technology that would extract carbon dioxide from the martian atmosphere to produce oxygen and fuel. The contracts are worth up to $750,000 over two years.

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Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics Selected for NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

NASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards to continue developing technologies to further human missions to deep space and  Mars. Each award is worth up to $750,000 over two years.

“The Advanced Organic Waste Gasifier (AOWG) is a technology designed to convert organic wastes generated during human spaceflight into clean water for mission consumables and gases suitable for venting to minimize vehicle mass for Mars transit and return missions,” the company said in a proposal summary.

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Pioneer Astronautics Selected for NASA Small Business Award

Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics has been selected for a NASA small business award to begin development of a system to extract soil from martian soil.

“The Advanced Mars Water Acquisition System (AMWAS) recovers and purifies water from Mars soils for oxygen and fuel production, life support, food production, and radiation shielding in support of human exploration missions,” the proposal states. “The AMWAS removes water from Mars soils using hot, recirculating carbon dioxide gas to provide rapid heat transfer. The AMWAS evaporates water from ice and salt hydrates, leaving dissolved contaminants in the soil residue.”

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NASA Selects In-Situ Resource Utilization SBIR Phase II Projects

NASA has selected two proposals related to in-situ resource utilization for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The space agency will enter into negotiations with two companies for contracts worth up to $750,000 apiece over two years.

The selected proposals include:

  • In-Situ Ethylene and Methane Production from CO2 as Plastic Precursors — Opus 12, Inc., Berkeley, CA
  • Extraterrestrial Metals Processing — Pioneer Astronautics, Lakewood, CO

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NASA Selects ISRU Projects for SBIR Awards

NASA LOGONASA has selected eight research projects focused on in-situ resource utilization for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research Phase I program.

The selected projects include:

  • Extraterrestrial Metals Processing — Pioneer Astronautics
  • Robotic ISRU Construction of Planetary Landing and Launch Pad — Honeybee Robotics
  • Extruded Clay-Based Regoliths for Construction on Mars, Phobos and NEAs — Deep Space Industries
  • In-Situ Generation of Polymer Concrete Construction Materials — Luna Innovations
  • ISP3: In-Situ Printing Plastic Production System for Space Additive Manufacturing — Altius Space Machines
  • Compact In-Situ Polyethylene Production from Carbon Dioxide — Opus 12
  • Micro-Channel Reactor for Processing Carbon Dioxide to Ethylene — Reactive Innovations
  • OpenSWIFT-SDR for STRS Polyethylene Production from In-Situ Resources in Microchannel Reactors — TDA Research

Full descriptions of the projects are below.

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NASA Selects CubeSat Projects for SBIR Phase II Funding

NASA’s STMD is spearheading work on small spacecraft such as these two Nodes satellites. The Nodes spacecraft were taken to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2015 via the fourth Orbital ATK cargo mission. Nodes will be deployed into low-Earth orbit from the ISS in early 2016 and test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future. (Credit: NASA)
NASA’s STMD is spearheading work on small spacecraft such as these two Nodes satellites. The Nodes spacecraft were taken to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2015 via the fourth Orbital ATK cargo mission. Nodes will be deployed into low-Earth orbit from the ISS in early 2016 and test new network capabilities for operating swarms of spacecraft in the future. (Credit: NASA)

NASA has selected seven projects focused on CubeSats for continued development under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II program.

The projects are either focused directly on CubeSats or have applications to the small satellites. The list includes:

  • Tendeg, LLC, Louisville, Colo: ROC-Rib Deployable Ka-Band Antenna for Nanosatellites
  • ExoTerra Resource, LLC. Littleton, Colo.: Cubesat SEP Power Module
  • Composite Technology Development, Inc., Lafayette, Colo.: Electric Potential and Field Instrument for CubeSat (EPIC)
  • Spectral Sciences, Inc., Burlington, Mass.: Electrospray Propulsion Engineering Toolkit (ESPET)
  • , LLC, Saline, Mich.:  Ultrasonic Additive Manufacturing for Capillary Heat Transfer Devices and Integrated Heat Exchangers
  • Applied Material Systems Engineering, Inc., Schaumburg, Ill.: Innovations for the Affordable Conductive Thermal Control Material Systems for Space Applications
  • Pioneer Astronautics, Lakewood, Colo.: Nitrous Ethane-Ethylene Rocket with Hypergolic Ignition.

Summaries of the projects follow.

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Pioneer Astronautics Selected for Two NASA SBIR Phase II Awards

pioneer_astronautics_logoBob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics has been selected for two NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards to continue development of a system to extract volatile elements from asteroids and a new rocket engine.

Pioneer’s Carbonaceous Asteroid Volatile Recovery (CAVoR) system “produces water and hydrogen-rich syngas for propellant production, life support consumables, and manufacturing from in-situ resources in support of advanced space exploration,” according to the project’s technical abstract.

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Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics Selected for 2 SBIR Phase I Contracts

pioneer_astronautics_logoNASA has selected Bob Zubrin’s Pioneer Astronautics for two small business awards to fund the development of a system to extract water and other volatiles from asteroids and a new rocket engine for spacecraft.

“The Carbonaceous Asteroid Volatile Recovery (CAVoR) system extracts water and volatile organic compounds for propellant production, life support consumables, and manufacturing from in-situ resources in support of advanced space exploration,” according to the proposal. “The CAVoR thermally extracts ice and water bound to clays minerals, which is then combined with small amounts of oxygen to gasify organic matter contained in carbonaceous chondrite asteroids.

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Bob Zubrin’s Company Snags Three SBIR Awards for Lunar, Martian Projects

NASA recently announced that it would be conducting contract negotiations for 350 projects under its SBIR and STTR programs, which are aimed at promoting space technology development and transfer by small businesses. Parabolic Arc will be looking at a number of the proposals involving NewSpace companies that it regularly covers or which encompass interesting technologies.

This post looks at Pioneer Pioneer Astronautics, a Colorado-based company run by Mars Society Founder Robert Zubrin. NASA selected three of the company’s SBIR proposals, including ones related to nitrous oxide micro-engines, Martian water extraction, and lunar oxygen production. Descriptions follow after the break.

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