Blue Origin among 6 NASA picks for tipping point space tech

The US space agency on Wednesday said it will invest for the purpose approximately $44 million. Pixabay

Although in the grand scheme of space exploration handing over between $1.6 million and $10 million for this or that idea might not seem like such a big investment, every dollar counts, says NASA, adding that the projects it selected could benefit vastly from the money it gives.

"These awards focus on technology collaborations with the commercial space sector that leverage emerging markets and capabilities to meet NASA's exploration goals".

The STTR initiative provides opportunities for small businesses and research institutions to jointly conduct research and development efforts for the USA government.

The second ULA contract is for US$2 million to demonstrate how Cryogenic Fluid Management (CFM) can make it possible to use propellants like liquid oxygen and hydrogen on prolonged deep space missions by minimizing fuel boil off.

Frontier Aerospace will pursue flight demonstration of its deep space engine through a $1.9 million award, while Paragon Space Development will further develop its proposed Cryogenic Encapsulating Launch Shroud and Insulated Upper Stage system through a $1.6 million contract.

CELSIUS is a system that can be installed on the surface of the cryogenic upper stage tank of a space launch vehicle to provide enhanced insulation capabilities and protection from meteoroids and debris.

This project will culminate in a lunar technology demonstration mission, advancing a low-priced, reliable, high-performance, stand-alone Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN) sensor suite.

Astrobotic Technology has received a $10 million contract to continue development work on a sensor suite for planetary landing missions.

Blue Origin's US$3 million award is for Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN), navigation doppler lidar for making precise soft landings anywhere on the Moon. This will be integrated with altimetry sensors and subjected to flight tests at an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard.

The most deals made with NASA go to the United Launch Alliance, which got awarded with $13.9 for three projects: the upper stage of rockets, retrieval from the air of vehicles that fall from orbit and long-duration space missions. The project will utilize an ocean-going ship capable of transporting a helicopter to the recovery zone and the demonstration will conclude with recovery of the LOFTID reentry vehicle. STMD is responsible for developing the cross-cutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.

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