Universities to Develop Lunar Power and Resource Utilization Tech for NASA

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Power and in-situ resources are two things humans will need as they explore deep space. How future astronauts use these commodities depends on the technology at hand. That’s why NASA is looking to U.S. universities for lunar-focused research to bring about advancements in in-situ resource utilization and sustainable power solutions. NASA selected six project proposals under its first-ever Lunar Surface Technology Research (LuSTR) solicitation.

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NASA Selects 19 Small Business Tech Transfer Projects for Further Funding

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 19 proposals from 17 U.S. small businesses for a total of more than $14 million in follow-on funding through the agency’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The awards will help advance NASA priorities such as the Artemis program and other initiatives in aeronautics, human exploration and operations, science, and space technology. 

NASA’s STTR program is open to small businesses partnering with U.S. research institutions to develop an innovation or technology. The partnering component distinguishes STTR from its sister program, NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). 

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CASIS & NSF Select Five Transport Phenomena Projects for Flight to International Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., October 20, 2020 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced five awarded projects from a joint solicitation for research in the general field of  transport phenomena.

The solicitation sought investigators interested in leveraging resources onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory for research in the areas of fluid dynamics, particulate and multiphase processes, thermal transport, nanoscale interactions, and combustion and fire systems.

The NSF Directorate for Engineering invested $2 million in awards to the selected projects, and CASIS, manager of the ISS National Lab, will facilitate hardware implementation, in-orbit access, and astronaut crew time to support the investigations on the orbiting laboratory.

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NIAC Focus: Directed Energy for Interstellar Flight

Artist rendering of the Directed Energy Interstellar Study. (Credit: P. Lubin)
Artist rendering of the Directed Energy Interstellar Study. (Credit: P. Lubin)

Directed Energy Interstellar Study
NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award

Philip Lubin
University of California, Santa Barbara

We propose to expand our investigations started in our NIAC Phase I of using directed energy to allow the achievement of relativistic flight to pave the way to the first interstellar missions. All of the current conventional propulsion systems are incapable of reaching the high speeds necessary to enable interstellar flight. Directed energy offers a path forward that, while difficult, is feasible. It is not an easy path and it does have many milestones to cross in order to get to the point of achieving the speeds needed.

Along the roadmap we propose are important and useful “waypoints” that both allow testing and feed back to the larger design but are also useful for many applications. The consequences of this program are truly transformative not only for achieving relativistic flight for small probes but also for larger spacecraft at lower speeds suitable for rapid interplanetary travel.

The Phase II work will consist of refining our roadmap and building and testing a small phased array prototype to test many of the concepts developed in the Phase I. We will also further our work on the wafer scale spacecraft design including work on the critical integrated laser communications system. We will also explore and test the inverse mode of using the array for reception which is critical to receiving the laser communications from the spacecraft.