NASA Funds Research into Food Production on Deep Space Missions

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield maintaining Biolab in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station. Biolab is an experiment workstation tailored for research on biological samples such as micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, plants and small invertebrates. The unit features a centrifuge that creates simulated gravity to compare how samples react to weightlessness and artificial gravity. (Credit; NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA contemplates deep space missions to the moon and Mars, the space agency faces increasing challenges in keeping its astronauts physically and mentally healthy.

One of the key elements in that challenge is fresh food. Currently, fresh produce is supplied periodically to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on resupply ships. Crew members have also grown small quantities of vegetables on board.

Resupply becomes a more difficult task on deep space missions due to distance. Thus, astronauts will need to grow more of their own food. Last week, NASA announced three Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards to advance that goal.

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Astrobotic, Carnegie Mellon Selected for NASA Award for Cooperative Rovers

Astrobotic is one of 14 companies selected for NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation. This illustration depicts CubeRover, an ultra-light, modular and scalable commercial rover.(Credit: Astrobotic/Carnegie Mellon University)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for funding to continue development of technologies to enable groups of rovers to cooperatively explore the surface of other worlds.

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NASA Awards $15.75 Million to US Small Businesses for Continued R&D

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Twenty-one American small businesses will assist in research relevant to NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach as well as other needs across the agency. The technology development could also bring about Earth-based applications.

The Phase II awards are part of NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The research and technology proposals, collectively valued at $15.75 million, will be completed through partnerships between the selected small businesses and U.S. research institutions—a requirement of STTR.

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NASA’s Small Investments in Small Businesses Pay Big Dividends

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Sustainable Bioproducts, a previous recipient and NASA STTR funding, uses extremophile organisms from volcanic springs to create edible proteins. (Credits: Jim Peaco/National Park Service)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In 2013, a startup company had an idea for using extremophile organisms from volcanic springs to create edible proteins that would serve as an environmentally conscious alternative to meat-based proteins.

Following a handful of small investments from government agencies, including a $124,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract from NASA, Sustainable Bioproducts announced in early 2019 it received $33 million in venture capital financing, including backing from two of the world’s biggest food and agriculture companies.

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NASA Selects 11 Proposals for Funding Under the Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On November 5, 2018, NASA provided notice of an opportunity to participate in the Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CCRPP), which is intended to accelerate the transition of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funded technologies to commercialization.

The funding is a combination of additional SBIR/STTR investment and NASA or non-NASA entity investment. The SBIR/STTR Program will match between $500,000 and $1 million of the external investment.

Eleven applications have been selected for negotiation and award for a total of $8.8M in funding. A list of selected projects and firms can be found below:

Firm Name

Title

Adventium Enterprises, LLC

Continuous Architecture Framework for Fault Management Assessment and Design (CAFFMAD)

ColdQuanta, Inc.

Cold Atom Source System

Deployable Space Systems, Inc.

Affordable Maximum Performance Solar Array for NASA and Commercial Missions

EM Photonics, Inc.

Enhanced Detection, Tracking, and Integration for the ATCOM Video Processing Platform

Environmental and Life Support Technology

Clean Catalysts- Porous Solid Carbon Manufacturing System

IntelliEPI IR, Inc.

Advanced Type II SLS Materials for Large Format FPA Applications

M4 Engineering, Inc.

Physics-Based Conceptual Design Tools

Metamagnetics, Inc.

Small, Low Mass, Self-Biased Circulators for Aerospace Phased Array Radar Systems

MicroLink Devices, Inc.

High-Volume Production of Lightweight, Multi-Junction Solar Cells Using 6-inch GaAs

Skyre, Inc.

6 CFM Electrochemical Hydrogen Pump and Compressor

Techshot, Inc.

Cell Reprogramming Facility

 











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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NASA Selects 9 Small Business Technology Transfer Projects

NASA PRESS RELEASES

WASHINGTON — NASA has selected nine proposals for negotiation of Phase 2 contract awards in the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The selected projects have a total value of approximately $5.4 million.

The contracts will be awarded to nine hi-tech firms partnered with nine universities in 12 states:

Bossa Nova Technologies LLC, Venice, CA
University of California, Los Angeles
Microwave Detection of Laser Ultrasonic for Non-Destructive Testing

Brimrose Corporation of America, Sparks, MD
Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ
Development of Novel, Optically-Based Instrumentation for Aircraft System Testing and Control

CFD Research Corporation, Huntsville, AL
University of Florida, Gainesville
Numerical Simulation of Rocket Exhaust Interaction with Lunar Soil

Invocon, Inc., Conroe, TX
Iowa State University, Ames
Distributed Leak Detection System Using Structure-Borne Noise

Kopin Corporation, Taunton, MA
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
InN-Based Quantum Dot Solar Cells

Los Gatos Research, Mountain View, CA
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Novel Instrumentation for Rocket Propulsion Systems

Luna Innovations Incorporated, Roanoke, VA
University of Alabama, Huntsville
Post Process Characterization of Friction Stir Welded Components

Qualtech Systems, Inc., Wethersfield, CT
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Engineering Next Generation Launch Systems for Supportability

Sigma Research and Engineering Corp., Lanham, MD
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Ultra Compact Cloud Physics Lidar for UAV Platforms

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