NASA to Work with Industry to Mature Green Propulsion, Advanced Materials, Space Robots and More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond through the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s 2020 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity (ACO).

The selected proposals are relevant to technology topic areas outlined in the solicitation, including cryogenic fluid management and propulsion; advanced propulsion; sustainable power; in-situ propellant and consumable production; intelligent/resilient systems and advanced robotics; advanced materials and structures; entry, descent, and landing; and small spacecraft technologies.

(more…)

New NASA Partnerships to Mature Commercial Space Technologies, Capabilities

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected  17 U.S. companies for 20 partnerships to mature industry-developed space technologies for the Moon and beyond. The NASA and industry teams will design a 3D printing system for NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration program, test a simple method for removing dust from planetary solar arrays, mature a first-stage rocket recovery system for a small satellite launch provider, and more.

Various NASA centers will work with the companies, ranging from small businesses and large aerospace companies to a previous NASA challenge winner, to provide expertise and access to the agency’s unique testing facilities. The partnerships aim to accelerate the development of emerging space capabilities.

(more…)

Nuclear Tech in Space: What’s on the Horizon?

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

La Grange Park, Ill. (American Nuclear Society PR) — NASA aims to develop nuclear technologies for two space applications: propulsion and surface power. Both can make planned NASA missions to the moon more agile and more ambitious, and both are being developed with future crewed missions to Mars in mind. Like advanced reactors here on Earth, space nuclear technologies have an accelerated timeline for deployment in this decade.

(more…)

T4i Won Contract from ESA for REGULUS Propulsion System Evolution

REGULOUS propulsion (Credit: T-4i)

PADUA, Italy (T4i PR) — T4i, a company providing customized and off-the-shelf propulsion systems, is entering the microsatellite market with its first propulsion system product, REGULUS. It all begun in 2006 with the initial thruster development at the University of Padua.

Passing through the years the first thruster version was miniaturized and then surrounded by all the other subsystems to get a complete propulsion unit. Today REGULUS is almost ready to be integrated in UNISAT-7 for its first launch in space in October.

(more…)

NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission Nears Completion

Green Propellant Infusion Mission in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

by Lance Davis
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA just validated a new type of propellant, or fuel, for spacecraft of all sizes. Instead of toxic hydrazine, space missions can use a less toxic, “green” propellant and the compatible technologies designed to go along with it. In a little over a year since launch, NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) successfully proved a never-before-used propellant and propulsion system work as intended, demonstrating both are practical options for future missions.

(more…)

AFWERX Awards Accion Systems $2.25 Million Phase II SBIR Contract

Air Force Award Will Drive Advanced Development and Commercialization of Multi-Mode In-Space Propulsion System.

BOSTON, Mass., August 11, 2020 (Accion Systems PR — In-space propulsion pioneer Accion Systems announced today that it has been awarded a follow-on Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract through AFWERX, in partnership with Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), and the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). The award recognizes the successful completion of the Phase I SBIR contact earlier this year and exciting promise for Accion’s TILE ion electrospray propulsion for use in national security missions. 

(more…)

Exotrail Signs Contract with CNES to Develop Cluster of Thrusters

An artistic rendering of a satellite firing with a Exotrail ExoMG cluster of four thrusters. (Credit: Exotrail)

PARIS (Exotrail PR) — Exotrail has signed a contract with the French Space Agency, CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), for a development project concerning the clusterisation of several Hall Effect Thrusters.

This Research & Technology (R&T) contract will allow Exotrail to demonstrate its capability to use several thrusters together in order to reach higher thrust and power for larger satellites’ needs.

(more…)

Exotrail Raises 11 Million Euros to Become Leader in On-orbit Smallsat Transportation

Exotrail’s vision: onboard propulsion, on-orbit transportation and on-orbit servicing. (Credits: Real Dream, Exotrail)

PARIS, July 16, 2020 (Exotrail PR) — Exotrail has raised 11 million euros ($13 million) to become a leader in on-orbit transportation for small satellites.

This Series A round was led by two European Venture Capital firms, Karista (through Paris Region Venture Fund) and Innovacom. IXO Private Equity, NCI-Waterstart, Turenne Capital and returning investors 360 Capital, Irdi Soridec Gestion and Bpifrance also invested.

(more…)

ESA Awards €1 Million to NanoAvionics to Develop New Satellite Propulsion Technologies

VILNIUS, Lithuania (NanoAvioncs PR) — The European Space Agency (ESA) has granted 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to nanosatellite mission integrator NanoAvionics to develop key components for small satellite propulsion systems.

The new propulsion technologies, with a thrust of up to 5N, aim to further reduce the cost of small satellite projects while making each satellite more reliable, propellant supply chains safer, and constellations more economical. Based on those components a new generation of propulsion systems for small satellites will be used in future ESA missions, and available to commercial satellite operators across the world.

(more…)

ESA Moves Ahead on Low-cost Reusable Rocket Engine

A gas generator produced by additive layer manufacturing completed two test campaigns in 2017 and 2018 at the P8 test bench at the DLR German Aerospace Center’s Lampoldshausen testing facility which provided valuable information on the proposed innovative design. (Credit: ArianeGroup)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Prometheus is the precursor of ultra-low-cost rocket propulsion that is flexible enough to fit a fleet of new launch vehicles for any mission and will be potentially reusable.

At the Space19+ Council meeting in Seville, Spain last November, ESA received full funding to bring the current Prometheus engine design to a technical maturity suitable for industry. Developed by ArianeGroup, Prometheus is now seen as key in the effort to prepare competitive future European access to space.

(more…)

NASA Funds Six Small Spacecraft Technologies for Development

NASA has selected six small satellite technology projects for continued development under phase II of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The selected proposals included: two projects focused on in-space propulsion; two systems for de-orbiting satellites; one project focused on radiation shielding for small spacecraft; and an improved turbo-pump for small satellite launch vehicles.

(more…)

Citadel Space Systems. Applied Ion Systems Partner on New Electric Propulsion and Nanosat Technology

OXFORDSHIRE, UK (Citadel Space Systems PR) – Citadel Space Systems Ltd (CSS) announced today that it has formalised a collaborative agreement with US-based Applied Ion Systems LLC (AIS) to develop a revolutionary new type of electric propulsion for nanosatellites.  Using a type of thruster technology called electrospray propulsion, Applied Ion Systems hope to develop a set of thruster systems that out-perform the current market in cost, efficiency, power and lifetime.

(more…)

York Space Systems Unveils Hydra Mission Series for Launch Starting in 2020

DENVER (York Space Systems PR) — York Space Systems, an aerospace company specializing in providing turn-key customer solutions and the manufacturer and operator of standardized spacecraft for rapid deployment, today announced its Hydra Mission Series, slated for launch beginning later this year.

The Hydra series leverages York Space Systems’ fully qualified operational spacecraft design and standardized payload interfaces, as well as an enhanced production and integration facility for government and commercial manifested payload missions. Entry to orbit timelines for the Hydra series are as short as three months from delivery of customer hardware to York Space Systems’ headquarters in Denver, Colorado. 

(more…)

A New Type of Fire, the Fuel of the Future?

Sparkler (Credit: CC BY 2.0–Markus Grossalber https://flic.kr/p/dzwPs9)

KIRUNA, Sweden (ESA PR) — Later this month a Texus rocket will launch from Esrange, Sweden, that will travel about 260 km upwards and fall back to Earth offering researchers six minutes of zero gravity. Their experiment? Burning metal powder to understand a new type of fire.

(more…)

Aethera’s New RF Power Processing Unit for Ad Astra’s VASIMR Engine Completes Full Power Acceptance Tests

WEBSTER, Texas USA and HALIFAX, NS, Canada – A new generation radio-frequency (RF) Power Processing Unit (PPU) for the VASIMR engine, built by Aethera Technologies Ltd. of Canada, has completed a series of full power acceptance tests at Ad Astra Rocket Company’s Texas facility near Houston. The unit completed these tests on August 12 by operating in a thermal steady-state with no anomalies at its full power rating of 120 kW.

The RF PPU is now ready to be incorporated into Ad Astra’s vacuum facility so that it can be tested with the VX- 200SS VASIMR prototype. These tests are part of Ad Astra’s ongoing program under the NASA NextSTEP partnership contract.

(more…)