Rocket Lab to Supply Solar Power for United States Space Force’s New Missile Warning Satellites

Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites. (Credit: Raytheon Intelligence & Space)

The solar cell assemblies will power three Lockheed Martin spacecraft designed to provide resilient space-based global missile warning capabilities to meet evolving threats from adversaries under the United States Space Force’s Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) program

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Rocket Lab PR) — Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a leading launch and space systems company, announced that its high-efficiency, radiation-hardened Coverglass Interconnected solar Cell (CIC) assemblies will power the three Lockheed Martin Next Gen OPIR GEO (NGG) satellites for the United States Space Force (USSF). The NGG program will deliver resilient global missile warning capabilities to counter emerging missile and counter-space threats and is part of the latest evolution of the USSF’s missile warning system, following the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program, which was supported by SolAero, a space solar power company acquired by Rocket Lab in January 2022.

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U.S. Space Force SSC’s GEO Wide Field of View Scheduled for Takeoff

Designed, built and integrated by Millennium Space Systems, Wide Field of View will demonstrate missile warning technologies and techniques. (Image Credit: Millennium Space Systems)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Millennium Space Systems PR) — The United States Space Force (USSF) Space Systems Command’s (SSC) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) Wide Field of View (WFOV) Testbed is scheduled to launch June 30, 2022. SSC’s GEO WFOV space vehicle was designed built and integrated by Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing Company, and will inform the future Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) architecture.

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Northrop Grumman Completes Preliminary Design Review for Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Subsystem

AZUSA, Calif., June 24, 2020 (Northrop Grumman PR) – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Ball Aerospace have successfully completed the preliminary design review (PDR) for the Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next Gen OPIR) Geosynchronous (GEO) Block 0 mission payload.

Next-Gen OPIR is a satellite system that will provide improved missile warning capabilities that are more resilient against emerging threats. As the successor to the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), Next-Gen OPIR’s first block of satellites will include five space vehicles, three in geosynchronous earth orbit and two in polar orbit.

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FInal Frontier Design Awarded Multiple NASA Lunar xEMU Space Suit Development Contracts

Credit: Final Frontier Design

BROOKLYN, New York, June 16, 2020 (FFD PR) — Final Frontier Design (FFD) is pleased to announce the award of multiple contracts for components of NASA’s next generation xEMU Lunar space suit.

The xEMU Lunar space suit will be used in the Artemis mission, the first US planetary space mission since Apollo. The development awards include the Lunar xEMU space suit boot, hip, and waist joints, and will culminate with hardware deliveries to NASA in 2020.

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Companies Eye Space Station for Retinal Implants, Organs-on-Chips & More

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA is funding projects that will use the microgravity of the International Space Station (ISS) to improve sight-restoring retinal implants, produce high-value optical materials, and conduct research using organs-on-chips (OOCs).

These are three of seven proposals the space agency selected for funding last month under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program that utilize ISS or demonstrate technologies in low Earth orbit (LEO). Each phase 1 award is worth up to $125,000 over six months.

Other selected projects are focused on improving water recycling on crewed vehicles, facilitating on-orbit spacecraft refueling and storage, hosting payloads on satellite constellations, and automating the watering of plants on ISS.

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Paragon Selected for 3 NASA Small Business Awards

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA selected three projects from Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson, Arizona for funding in its recent round of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards. Each contract is worth a maximum of $125,000 over six months.

Paragon’s Separation Technology of On-Orbit Liquid and Excrement (STOOLE) project is pretty much what it sounds like: an improved system for recycling human waste in space.

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NASA Gives a Financial Boost to In-Space Welding Projects

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA selected two projects for funding focused on developing in-space welding technologies as part of its recent round of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards.

The space agency selected Busek Company of Natick, Mass., and Made in Space of Jacksonville, Fla., for phase 1 awards worth up to $125,000 apiece for six months.

“Busek proposes to initiate the development of a semi-autonomous, teleoperated welding robot for joining of external (or internal metallic uninhabited volume at zero pressure) surfaces in space,”according to the proposal summary. “This welding robot will be an adaptation of a versatile Busek developed system called SOUL (Satellite On Umbilical Line) with a suitable weld head attached to it.

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NASA STTR Awards Focused on Advanced Thermal Protection Systems

This computer-generated art depicts Orion’s heat shield protecting the crew module as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA is funding research into lighter and more capable thermal protection systems (TPSs) producing using additive manufacturing (3D printing) as it looks to land ever larger payloads on other worlds and return extraterrestrial soil samples to Earth.

The space agency recently selected four heat shield proposals from corporate-university partnerships for funding under its Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The phase 1 grants are worth up to $125,000 over 13 months.

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Busek Company Selected for NASA Funding to Develop Spacecraft Advanced Propulsion

Busek Company will develop advanced CubeSat propulsion and Hall Effect thrusters (HETs) with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency has selected the Massachusetts-based company for five Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 awards. The contracts are worth up to $125,000 apiece over 13 months.

The three proposals focused on CubeSats and small satellites include:

  • a low impulse bit electrospray thruster control system;
  • a compact high performance plasma propulsion system (CHPPPS); and,
  • an iodine-compatible photocathode for RF ion thrusters.

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NASA Funds Final Frontier Design for Low-Cost Personal Life Support System

Spacewalker Kate Rubins works outside the International Space Station with the SpaceX Dragon space freighter just below her. (Credit: NASA TV)

Final Frontier Design (FFD) has been selected for NASA funding to develop a low-cost personal life support system for spacesuits that would use commercial off-the-shelf components and be discarded after use.

The space agency selected the Brooklyn-based company’s proposal for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The contract is worth up to $125,000 for as long as 13 months.

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Altius Space Machines Selected for 2 NASA SBIR Phase 1 Awards

Altius Small Machines will develop systems that will allow for orbiting satellites to be upgraded and for planetary science missions to changes the tools they are using with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the Colorado-based company for two awards under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. Each contract is worth up to $125,000 over 13 months.

One project involves MagTags, which are modular interfaces that use “solid state switchable magnets and ferrous target materials to create a secure electrical or low-pressure fluid connection between modules and spacecraft with no moving parts,” according to the proposal summary.

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Paragon Developing Advanced Radiator for Inflatable Habitats

Paragon Space Development Corporation will develop a flexible radiator for inflatable habitats and an improved condenser for use on human space missions with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency has selected the Tuscon, Ariz.-based company for two contracts under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The agreements are worth up to $125,000 apiece over 13 months.

The target market for Paragon’s Flexible Radiator (FlexRAD) is “long duration human spaceflight exploration missions and other spacecraft” that use a single loop  active thermal control system (ATCS).

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Masten Space Systems Selected for NASA SBIR Phase 1 Award

Masten Space Systems of Mojave will pursue a project designed to better use additive manufacturing (AM) in the production of rocket engines with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the company’s PermiAM project for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The contract is worth as much as $125,000 over 13 months.

“Part of the work performed in this SBIR will help in determine the potential savings for future engine development programs, currently projected at 10x for injector build cost savings which require face cooling,” the project summary stated.

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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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Planetary LEGO Blocks Take Shape in Hawaii

Planetary LEGOs (Credit: PISCES)

HILO, Hawaii (PISCES PR) — These LEGO blocks are not the familiar plastics bricks you may have pieced together as a kid or given to your children to play with. In fact, these blocks could one day form the foundations of habitats and infrastructure supporting astronauts on places like Mars, the Moon and other worlds.

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