NASA Seeks Information from Potential Partners for a Solar Electric Propulsion Flight Demonstration

Advanced solar electric propulsion will be needed for future human expeditions into deep space, including to Mars. Shown here is a 13-kilowatt Hall thruster being evaluated at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Hall thrusters trap electrons in a magnetic field and use them to ionize the onboard propellant. It uses 10 times less propellant than equivalent chemical rockets. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate released a Request for Information (RFI) to potential partners for a technology demonstration of advanced solar electric propulsion (SEP) technology on Aug. 8, with responses due by Sept. 8, 2017.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Tests Advanced Electric Propulsion System

SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 06, 2017 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), successfully conducted a series of hot-fire tests on a Power Processing Unit (PPU) for an Advanced Electric Propulsion System (AEPS) designed to advance the nation’s commercial space capabilities as well as support NASA’s plans for deep space exploration. The tests were conducted at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

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NASA Space Technology Year in Review

Mars 2020 Lander Vision System flight tested aboard a Masten “Xombie” up to 1,066 feet on December 9, 2014 at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Credits: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida)
Mars 2020 Lander Vision System flight tested aboard a Masten “Xombie” up to 1,066 feet on December 9, 2014 at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. (Credits: NASA Photo / Tom Tschida)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is dedicated to pushing the technological envelope, taking on challenges not only to further space agency missions near Earth, but also to sustain future deep space exploration activities.

“In 2016, we completed several major program milestones,” explains Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator for STMD.

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NASA Awards $67 Million Contract for Advance Electric Propulsion System

Advanced solar electric propulsion will be needed for future human expeditions into deep space, including to Mars. Shown here is a 13-kilowatt Hall thruster being evaluated at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Hall thrusters trap electrons in a magnetic field and use them to ionize the onboard propellant. It uses 10 times less propellant than equivalent chemical rockets. (Credit: NASA)
Advanced solar electric propulsion will be needed for future human expeditions into deep space, including to Mars. Shown here is a 13-kilowatt Hall thruster being evaluated at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Hall thrusters trap electrons in a magnetic field and use them to ionize the onboard propellant. It uses 10 times less propellant than equivalent chemical rockets. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc. of Redmond, Washington, to design and develop an advanced electric propulsion system that will significantly advance the nation’s commercial space capabilities, and enable deep space exploration missions, including the robotic portion of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) and its Journey to Mars.

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SSL Advances Solar Electric Propulsion With Busek

SSL concept for solar electric propulsion spacecraft (Credit: SSL)
SSL concept for solar electric propulsion spacecraft (Credit: SSL)

PALO ALTO, CA, Feb. 10, 2016 (SSL PR) – Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of commercial satellites, today announced that it is collaborating with a U.S. technology innovator, Busek Co, Inc. to advance the current capability of solar electric propulsion systems. SSL and Busek plan to build on the current collaboration specifically to address the future needs of NASA and other U.S. government agencies.

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NASA Works on Solar Electric Propulsion for Satellites

Video Caption: NASA’s Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) project, managed by NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, is developing large solar arrays and high-powered electric thrusters that could enable cost-effective trips to Mars, asteroids and other destinations in our solar system. SEP will use an electrically propelled system energized by electric power from the on-board solar arrays that will use 10 times less propellant than a comparable, conventional chemical propulsion system. This will allow for reduced fuel mass that still has the capability to propel spacecraft for potential science missions, human exploration missions, or satellite servicing. (NASA)

NASA Eyes Sending CubeSats into Deep Space

CubeSat
CubeSat

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

So far, CubeSats have been used exclusively in Earth orbit. But, imagine a fleet of these tiny spacecraft fanning out to the moon and other deep-space destinations.

That’s what NASA has in mind. The space agency has just committed about $1.1 million to fund nine research projects that address different deep-space cubesat technologies. The funding is part of the NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Select Phase 1 grants announced earlier this week.

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Northrop Grumman Developing Solar Electric Propulsion Under NASA Contract

REDONDO BEACH, Calif., Jan. 31, 2012 (NGC PR) — Northrop Grumman Corporation was recently awarded a contract to study high-power solar electric propulsion flight system technology for NASA deep space and human exploration missions.

“In collaboration with our partners, we are working on alternatives to the typical solar array approach,” said Jim Munger, solar electric propulsion program manager, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “Our concept will be scalable to 300 kilowatts and beyond and have the potential for reducing the cost and complexity of high-power requirements.”

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Boeing Begins Solar Electric Propulsion Technology Study


BOEING PR — HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif., Jan. 11, 2012
— The Boeing Company has begun work on a four-month NASA contract to develop a mission concept study for solar electric propulsion technologies. Under the $600,000 firm, fixed-price contract, Boeing will evaluate concepts that combine high-power solar arrays with advanced electric thrusters to power spacecraft and payloads to high Earth orbit and deep space destinations.

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NASA Selects Companies To Study Solar Electric Propulsion Spacecraft

An electric propulsion engine. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA has selected five companies to develop concepts for demonstrating solar electric propulsion in space. These capabilities are important for the agency’s future human exploration missions to deep space.

The selected companies, pending successful contract negotiations, are:

— Analytical Mechanics Associates Inc., Hampton, Va.
— Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo.
— The Boeing Company, Huntington Beach, Calif.
— Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colo.
— Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Redondo Beach, Calif.
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