Paragon Looks to Mine Ice on the Moon

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson will begin developing a cold trap for the mining of water on the moon with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the Tucson-based company for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award to begin work on the ISRU Collector of Ice in a Cold Lunar Environment (ICICLE). The award is worth $125,000 over six months.

(more…)

Paragon Eyes Flying a Balloon Over Venus

Venus hides a wealth of information that could help us better understand Earth and exoplanets. NASA’s JPL is designing mission concepts to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. This image is a composite of data from NASA’s Magellan spacecraft and Pioneer Venus Orbiter. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With surface temperatures exceeding 470 degrees C (880 F), Venus has always been a difficult place to explore. The Soviet Union’s most successful lander, Venera 13, survived for only 127 minutes before succumbing to the heat.

Conditions in Venus’ atmosphere are more temperate. Venus’ atmospheric pressure and temperature at an altitude of 65 km (40.4 miles) are similar to those on Earth.

(more…)

NASA Selects 10 Small Business Proposals for Lunar ISRU

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon in the Artemis program, the space agency is increasingly eyeing the use of lunar resources to reduce the expense of launching everything from Earth.

NASA recently selected 10 proposals to develop technologies for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

(more…)

Techshot Plans Commercialization of Crystal Production on ISS

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Techshot has a plan to commercialize the production of pharmaceutical crystals aboard the International Space Station (ISS) by developing improved production modules with funding from NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“Techshot proposes a business plan in which cost and time saving versatile flight hardware and flexible flight opportunities are made openly available to corporate and institutional users seeking improvements or refinements in product purification, formulation and/or delivery,” according to the project description.

(more…)

Astrobotic Project Focuses on Wireless Power Transfer on the Moon

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA will a project by Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh to develop wireless transmission for power systems whose mechanical connections would be prone to getting clogged with lunar dust.

The space agency selected the project for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The phase I grant is worth up to $1250,000 over six months.

(more…)

NASA Awards Small Business Contracts to Manage Lunar Dust

Apollo 17 spacesuits and helmets were covered in abrasive lunar dust after three days of exploring the moon. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Lunar dust feels like fine snow, is strangely abrasive, and smells like burnt gun powder when exposed to oxygen.

It was a minor annoyance during the Apollo missions, which lasted a maximum of three days. Now that NASA is planning to send astronauts back to the moon to stay in the Artemis program, the space agency is looking for ways to control lunar dust so it doesn’t clog up spacesuits, spacecraft and habitats.

(more…)

NASA Invests $51 Million in Innovative Ideas from US Small Businesses

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 409 technology proposals for the first phase of funding from the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The contracts will provide approximately $51 million to 312 small businesses in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

“NASA depends on America’s small businesses for innovative technology development that helps us achieve our wide variety of missions,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “Whether we’re landing Artemis astronauts on the Moon, sending rovers to Mars, or developing next-generation aircraft our small business partners play an important role.”

(more…)

Astrobotic Awarded NASA Contract to Develop UltraNav Smart Camera for Next-Gen Space Missions

Astrobotic’s UltraNav Aims to make Advanced Vision-Based Navigation Accessible to the Broader Space Industry

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – NASA has selected Astrobotic for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II award to continue its development of UltraNav, a low-cost, autonomous, visual navigation system for spacecraft. The system has wide-ranging applications, from the servicing of Earth satellites to journeys to challenging space destinations such as the lunar poles or Martian mountains.

(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…)

Tethers Unlimited’s Robotic Tool-Change System Selected for More NASA Funding

Rgw androgynous robotic tool-change interface (ARTIE) in action. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Tethers Unlimited’s androgynous robotic tool-change interface (ARTIE) for continued funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

ARTIE is designed for the hard and soft capture of tools and infrastructure support for robotic assets such as Tethers Unlimited’s KRAKEN robotic manipulator and NASA’s Astrobee.

(more…)

Tethers Unlimited’s HyperBus Receives Additional NASA Funding

HyperBus orbital platform (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Tethers Unlimited Inc. (TUI) for additional funding to develop its HyperBus Cargo (HBC) platform, which is designed to move modules around in space to support orbital construction.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) phase II award will provide up to $750,000 to further HBC development. NASA previously funded the program with a smaller phase I award.

(more…)

Masten Space Working on Lunar Regolith Models

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Masten Space Systems will continue to work on developing reliable, high-fidelity models of lunar regolith thrown up by landing vehicles with the help of NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The goal is to ensure reliable and safe landings for robotic and crewed spacecraft that will land on the moon under NASA’s Artemis and Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) programs.

(more…)

Masten Space Working on System to Help Vehicles Survive Frigid Lunar Nights

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — One of the big challenges faced by lunar landers and rovers is the 14-day lunar night. Temperatures can drop to minus 280 Fahrenheit (minus 173 Celsius), causing vehicle components to literally freeze to death before the sun reappears.

Masten Space Systems is working on a solution to the problem of frigid lunar nights with financing from NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

(more…)

Astrobotic Developing Advanced Visual Space Navigation System

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astrobotic will continue developing a compact visual space navigation system for use by small satellites, lunar landers and surface rovers with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency has selected the Pittsburgh-based company for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) phase II award to continue development of its ultra-compact standalone visual relative navigation system, also known as UltraNav.

(more…)