University Students Design Prototypes NASA Could Develop in Missions to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

The University of Maryland, College Park team used this prototype cabin to investigate the design of minimal cabin volumes for deep space exploration missions. (Credits: University of Maryland, College Park)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The 2020 Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (X-Hab)  Academic Innovation Challenge supports NASA’s efforts to develop technologies and capabilities that will enable future human missions to the Moon, Mars, and other solar system destinations.

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NASA’s ELaNa 20 Mission First to Fly on Virgin Orbit Launch

Virgin Orbit teammates complete a dry run of the payload encapsulation process in Aug. 2020 inside their “Nebula” payload processing facility ahead of the company’s Launch Demo 2 mission. (Credits: Virgin Orbit/Greg Robinson)

By Danielle Sempsrott 
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

MOJAVE, Calif. — Ten NASA-sponsored CubeSats are preparing to fly on the agency’s next Educational Launch of Nanosatellites  (ELaNa) mission, making this the first payload carried by Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket.

With the small satellites safely secured inside the payload fairing, and the fairing mated to the rocket, Virgin Orbit is gearing up for ELaNa 20, the Launch Demo 2 flight from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

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SDL to Provide SmallSat Constellation for NASA Solar Mission

NORTH LOGAN, Utah, August 21, 2020 — The Space Dynamics Laboratory announced today that it has been awarded a contract by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to build six spacecraft for NASA’s Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment mission, known as SunRISE. The contract value was not disclosed.

SunRISE is led by principal investigator Justin Kasper at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and managed by JPL in Pasadena, California. It is scheduled to launch as a hosted rideshare with a commercial satellite in 2023.

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NASA Selects University Teams to Develop Technologies to Enhance Its Artemis Missions

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA, in partnership with the National Space Grant Foundation, has selected seven university teams to develop innovative design ideas that will help NASA advance and execute its Artemis  program objectives.

The selections are a part of the 2021 Moon to Mars eXploration Systems and Habitation (M2M X-Hab)  Academic Innovation Challenge, sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) division. The winning teams will be given monetary awards ranging from $15,000- $50,000 to assist them in designing and producing studies, research findings or functional products that bridge strategic knowledge gaps, increase capabilities and lower technology risks related to NASA’s Moon to Mars space exploration missions.

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NASA Selects Early Stage Innovations from US Universities for Multi-Year Research, Development

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Universities help propel NASA technology forward, researching everything from unique rocket engine designs to how landers interact with surfaces on other worlds. NASA has selected 14 university-led research proposals to study early-stage technologies relevant to these topics and more. The grants will fund ambitious projects to mature technologies for future NASA missions.

“There are talented researchers outside of NASA, working at universities across the country, who are poised to help us look at challenging aspects of space exploration in new ways,” said Walt Engelund, deputy associate administrator of programs within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “With the help of these institutions and principal investigators, NASA will accelerate innovation for critical space technologies.”

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