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

 











Tethers Unlimited Aims to Put SPIDERs on Mars

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the 1970’s, David Bowie sang about Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars. If Tethers Unlimited has its way, the Red Planet will be crawling with them.

Earlier this month, NASA selected the Bothell, Washington-based company for a small business award to work on its Sensing and Positioning in Deep Environments with Retrieval (SPIDER) surface exploration system.

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NASA Awards $106 Million to US Small Businesses for Technology Development

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Managing pilotless aircraft and solar panels that could help humans live on the Moon and Mars are among the technologies NASA is looking to develop with small business awards totaling $106 million. In all, NASA has selected 142 proposals from 129 U.S. small businesses from 28 states and the District of Columbia to receive Phase II contracts as part the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“Small businesses play an important role in our science and exploration endeavors,” said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “NASA’s diverse community of partners, including small businesses across the country, helps us achieve our mission and cultivate the U.S. economy. Their innovations will help America land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024, establish a sustainable presence on the lunar surface a few years later, and pursue exciting opportunities for going to Mars and beyond.”

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NASA Seeks Small Business Innovation Research for Future Missions, Commercialization

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Small businesses are at the cutting edge of research, with fresh and unexpected ideas. NASA hopes to leverage innovative small business concepts for use on Earth, at the Moon and beyond.

NASA’s Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs seek proposals that could be integrated into NASA missions and commercial markets. The 2019 solicitation encourages U.S. small businesses and research institutions to submit ideas related to NASA’s aeronautics, human exploration, science and space technology objectives.

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Astrobotic Wins NASA Research Contract to Target Landings on Icy, Outer Planet Moons

Astrobotic will develop software to help spacecraft on possible future missions land near unmapped or dynamic scientific targets in the solar system, including close the south pole of Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus. The Cassini spacecraft captured images showing plumes erupting from the moon’s surface (left) during multiple fly-bys of the moon. Scientists believe these plumes are the result of active thermal processes occurring in a salty, subsurface, global ocean (artist’s concept, right). (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Today Astrobotic announced a program to study advanced navigation techniques that could allow the next generation of spacecraft to target landings at some of the most interesting scientific destinations in the solar system.

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NASA Awards $15 Million to Small Businesses for Competitive R&D Projects

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 20 research and technology proposals — valued at $15 million — from 19 American small businesses. Each is partnering with research institutions for Phase II of NASA’s competitive Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program.

STTR supports NASA’s future missions into deep space and benefits the U.S. economy. Selected proposals will support the development of technologies in the areas of aeronautics, science, human exploration and operations, and space technology. The awards are for small companies partnering with research institutions from across the country, including New Jersey, Alabama, Indiana, Illinois and California.

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Astrobotic Announces Selection of Two New NASA Research Contracts

Pittsburgh, Pa. (Astrobotic PR)  Astrobotic Technology Inc., announces $250,000 in new contract awards through NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

These two contracts, which were awarded to the company’s Future Missions and Technology (FM&T) department, will help the company develop novel technologies and strategies for the exploration of space and planetary surfaces.

Through an SBIR contract, “Software Defined Reliability for Low Cost Digital Signal Processors on Small Spacecraft” FM&T will address the needs of the growing space computing market for the next wave of robotic spaceflight customers with Astrobotic’s proprietary “Software Defined Reliability” (ASDR) technology.

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Astrobotic, Carnegie Mellon University Project Aims to Control Multiple Planetary Robots

CubeRover on the moon (Credit: Astrobotic)

Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University will develop methods that will allow planetary rovers to work together to explore the surface of other worlds under a NASA contract.

The space agency selected a proposal by the partners for funding under the Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) program. The 13-month contract is worth a maximum of $125,000.

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NASA Awards $14.3 Million to Small Businesses, Research Institutions to Develop Innovative Technologies

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 19 proposals from American small businesses and research institutions for Phase II of its competitive Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, totaling $14.3 million in awards.

These selections are for the 2016 STTR program, which supports NASA’s future missions into deep space, while also benefiting the U.S. economy. The STTR program stimulates partnerships between small businesses and research institutions by providing awards for cooperative research and development efforts with potential for commercialization.

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NASA Selects Tethers Unlimited for Four Small Business Awards

Tethers Unlimited (TUI) will being developing a small satellite capable of growing itself in orbit and a metal press and milling system capable of creating precision parts in microgravity with the help of NASA funding.

The projects were among four TUI proposals the space agency selected under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program. The contracts are worth up to $125,000 apiece over six months.

The selected proposals include:

  • MakerSat
  • Metal Advanced Manufacturing Bot-Assisted Assembly (MAMBA) Process
  • COBRA-Bee Carpal-Wrist Gimbal for Astrobee
  • The Automated X-Link for Orbital Networking (AXON) Connector

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NASA Selects Honeybee Robotics for Six Small Business Awards

The green oval highlights the plumes Hubble observed on Europa. The area also corresponds to a warm region on Europa’s surface. The map is based on observations by the Galileo spacecraft (Credits: NASA/ESA/STScI/USGS)

Honeybee Robotics will begin developing new technologies that would allow a lander to drill into the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa and collect samples for analysis with the help of a pair of NASA small business awards.

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