NASA Small Business Partners Advance Lunar Technologies

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis mission will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Small businesses around the country have played a critical part in NASA technologies that enable our missions. As NASA returns to the Moon via the Artemis program, in an enhanced, sustainable way; the agency has selected five U.S. small businesses to receive a total of nearly $20 million to accelerate the development of novel lunar capabilities. 

(more…)

Space Force Pitch Day Awards $32.3 Million to 19 Small Businesses

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – SpaceWERX officially lifted off Aug. 19 during the virtual Space Force Pitch Day. The event closed with 19 small businesses securing Phase II Small Business Innovation Research contracts to advance their cutting-edge space technologies.

The newly launched SpaceWERX will play a vital role in pursuing innovative technologies for the U.S. Space Force. It will operate as part of AFWERX, the Department of the Air Force’s innovation arm.

“What better way of introducing the new organization than bringing in new partners, locking in new investments and going after great space technology,” said Lt. Col. Walter “Rock” McMillan, SpaceWERX Director. “We’re excited to be partnering with these great companies and the great technology they bring to the table.”

(more…)

Maxar Awarded $26 Million Contract to Continue Development and Support for NGA’s Open Mapping Platform

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (Maxar Technologies PR) — Maxar Technologies (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), a trusted partner and innovator in Earth Intelligence and Space Infrastructure, today announced it has been awarded a five-year contract worth up to $26.4 million by the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) to sustain and enhance the National System for Geospatial Intelligence Open Mapping Enclave (NOME). Under the agreement, Maxar will continue to provide engineering, software development and geospatial tradecraft in support of NOME.

The web-based NOME platform enables a community of vetted U.S. government users to create and update geospatial features in a crowdsourced “living map.” NOME was initially developed to support NGA’s foundation mapping mission, but the platform emerged as a powerful tool to perform unclassified mission support remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasingly, users also leverage the platform to create features for further dissemination across multiple networks and to train artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) models.

(more…)

Xplore Receives USAF Contract to Develop a Commercial Navigation & Timing Service for Cislunar Space

REDMOND, Wash. (Xplore PR) — Xplore Inc., an innovative commercial space company providing Space as a Service® has announced a follow on contract with the U.S. Air Force, (USAF) to continue developing their positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) solution as a commercial service for cislunar space. Xplore’s current Phase II effort culminates in a hardware in the loop testbed that will demonstrate the required performance to enable precision cislunar missions while laying the foundation for a subsequent on-orbit test of the PNT system. This Phase II SBIR, awarded for commercial and technical innovations between the Earth and the Moon, provides the Air Force with the necessary capabilities to extend precision operations to the Moon and across cislunar space.

The PNT system Xplore is developing enables exploration, operations and commercial activities in cislunar space — a vast region that extends past the Moon to the edge of interplanetary space and is over ten thousand times the volume than nearly all space operations around the Earth. An equivalent GPS-like navigation and timing solution for this expanse does not currently exist, and Xplore’s revolutionary solution leverages its internal platform development to provide critical infrastructure services beyond geosynchronous orbit.

(more…)

Sedaro Goes Live with Sedaro Satellite SaaS, Wins $1.7 Million in USAF Funding for Further Development

ARLINGTON, Va., (Sedaro Satellite PR) — Sedaro Satellite is a modular Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for model-based satellite engineering. This platform enable’s engineering teams to develop an integrated, multi-disciplinary model of their space mission and simulate its on-orbit behavior in the cloud.

In Sedaro Satellite, teams iteratively model, simulate, and analyze their design until all performance requirements are met. “Satellite engineering is dramatically cheaper and faster with Sedaro Satellite. Intuitive design capture, engaging analytics, and powerful cloud computing resources reduce the level of specialized expertise and engineering-hours required to develop a successful satellite mission.” says Sedaro CEO and Co-founder Robbie Robertson.

(more…)

SpaceWERX Launch Drives AFWERX Small Business Focus on Universities and On-orbit Capability

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (USAF PR) – On August 19, SpaceWERX will officially launch. The kickoff will include a virtual Space Force Pitch Day highlighting the key partnership between the Department of the Air Force and small businesses by awarding up to $34 million to innovative startups competing for Small Business Innovation Research Phase II contracts. At the launch, SpaceWERX will also announce key initiatives to jumpstart the fall campaign.To join the SpaceWERX ecosystem click here

As a part of AFWERX, SpaceWERX will play a vital role in pursuing innovative technologies for the United States Space Force. The Department’s newest innovation arm will create platforms for space operators, lab engineers, and acquisition professionals to collaborate with the brightest minds in academia and industry pursuing novel solutions. Moreover, SpaceWERX will continue to leverage proven AFWERX tools such as the SBIR Open Topic, Challenge platform, STRATFI initiative, and Prime program. 

(more…)

Apollo to Artemis: Drilling on the Moon

This mini-panorama combines two photographs taken by Apollo 15 lunar module pilot Jim Irwin, from the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP) site, at the end of the second Apollo 15 moonwalk on August 1, 1971. Scott is leaning to his right and is putting down the Apollo Lunar Surface drill used to take core samples and set up a heat flow experiment. The Solar Wind Spectrometer is in the right foreground. The min-pan of photographs AS15-11845 and 11847 was combined by Erik van Meijgaarden, volunteer contributor to the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal site. (Credits: Erik van Meijgaarden)

By Leejay Lockhart
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Fifty years ago, Apollo 15 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, sending Commander David R. Scott, Command Module Pilot Alfred M. Worden, and Lunar Module Pilot James B. Irwin on the first of three Apollo “J” missions. These missions gave astronauts the opportunity to explore the Moon for longer periods using upgraded and more plentiful scientific instruments than ever before. Apollo 15 was the first mission where astronauts used the Apollo Lunar Surface Drill (ALSD) and the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV).

(more…)

Air Force Tasks Rhea Space Activity to Build Rapid-Response Lunar Communications Spacecraft

Rhea Scorpius Propulsive Burn (Credit: Rhea Space Activity)

RSA Investigates a Novel High-Thrust, High-Efficiency Propulsion System

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2021 (Rhea Space Activity PR) — As U.S. operations in space steadily move further away from Earth orbit, the rapidly growing ‘New Space’ company Rhea Space Activity (RSA) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the United States Air Force (USAF) for a Phase I, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) 2021 Space Force Pitch Day award to investigate a bi-modal, solar-thermal propulsion system that would provide rapid repositioning capabilities for a future United State Space Force (USSF) deep space communications spacecraft.

(more…)

NASA Awards PickNik an SBIR Grant for Orbital Robot Autonomy

Credit: PikNik
  • PickNik Robotics is developing an easy-to-use supervised autonomy solution to command remote, complex robots.
  • The commercially available version is called MoveIt Studio, with an initial release slated for Summer 2021.
  • MoveIt Studio expands the problem-solving capabilities of traditional robot teleoperation.

BOULDER, CO, June 8th, 2021 (PickNik Robotics PR) – PickNik Robotics announced on June 8th that it has been awarded a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to develop its technology for advanced planning capabilities for robots in microgravity environments.

(more…)

ExoTerra, Virgin Orbit to Develop Solar Electric Upper Stage with NASA SBIR Funding

LauncherOne ignites after being dropped from Cosmic Girl. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

The solar electric propulsion upper stage opens a path to cis-lunar space, GEO, and beyond for Virgin Orbit’s small satellite customers

LITTLETON, Colo., June 1, 2021 (ExoTerra Resource PR) — NASA has awarded Littleton, CO-based ExoTerra Resource a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award for the firm’s solar electric propulsion upper stage, currently under development in partnership with California-based launch services provider Virgin Orbit.

(more…)

NASA Space Technology Budget Request Fact Sheet

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Technology
($ Millions)

The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) develops transformative, cross-cutting technologies that lead to research and technology breakthroughs to enable NASA’s missions and is broadening its focus on cross-cutting space technologies that will support creating good jobs in a growing space industry.

(more…)

Paragon to Develop Aerobot for Exploring Venus, System for Collecting Ice on Moon with NASA Funding

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Paragon Space Development Corporation will continue development of an aerobot for exploring Venus form the air and a system to extract ice from the lunar regolith with the help of a pair of NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II awards.

The Mechanical-compression Aerobot for extended Range Venus ExpLoration (MARVEL) would be an autonomous robotic balloon vehicle capable of carrying scientific payloads through the Venusian atmosphere. Paragon has teamed with Thin Red Line Aerospace to develop MARVEL.

(more…)

Astrobotic to Develop Wireless Charging System for Use on Moon with NASA Award

The Astrobotic CubeRover traverses the terrain in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory regolith bin on Dec. 10, 2020. Also in the bin is NASA’s Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot (RASSOR), a robotic platform designed to dig on the Moon. The regolith bin simulates the Moon’s surface. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Astrobotic will develop a wireless charging system for use on the lunar surface with the help of a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award.

(more…)

Relativity Space to Develop Sensors to Detect 3D Printing Flaws in Real Time with NASA Award

NASA has selected Relativity Space for that a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award that will allow the company to continue developing a suite of sensors capable of real-time detection of flaws in 3D printing.

“At this time, we do not perform automatic, real-time defect detection, but the company has developed significant elements that when integrated together demonstrate the capability for real-time in-situ flaw detection. We use sensors and cameras to collect data on multi-dimension time series; real-time processing elements to review camera and time series data; and closed-feedback loops to modify print deposition parameters,” the company said in the project summary.

Relativity Space, which is 3D printing its launch vehicle, said the suite of sensors will have a variety of uses both on Earth and in space.

(more…)

NASA Invests $105 Million in US Small Business Technology Development

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has a long history of supporting America’s entrepreneurs as they develop technologies from ideas to commercial readiness. The agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is furthering that legacy with 140 new Phase II awards to 127 U.S. small businesses that will help them move their innovations to market.

The awards to these small businesses, located across 34 states and Washington, D.C., total $105 million. NASA’s small business program is dedicated to finding the most useful technologies for the agency and the commercial marketplace, and sourcing those innovations from a diverse  group of entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and perspectives. The companies chosen for Phase II funding include 33 women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses.

(more…)