NASA has recently selected 21 research and technology proposals from American small businesses and research institutions that will enable NASA’s future missions into the solar system and beyond while benefiting America’s technology-driven economy here on Earth. The Phase II selectees of NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program are permitted to enter negotiations for possible contract awards worth a combined total of approximately USD 15.8M. “Just as small businesses are driving our economy, technology is driving exploration,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These selected proposals demonstrate the creativity of American entrepreneurs and, along with our other technology investments, will contribute to ensuring the U.S. remains a leader in technology development and space exploration.”
One study will explore the use of a fuel grain as propellant. A second study involves a new generation of CubeSats that take advantage of in-situ resources — living off the land — while exploring space. The proposal combines existing CubeSat technology with 3-D printing technology and an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) water extraction system. The 3-D printing technology enables development of steam thrusters, as well as tanks that fit within the available space within the CubeSat.
NASA’s STTR Program uses a highly competitive, three-phase award system that provides collaborative opportunities between qualified small businesses, including women-owned and disadvantaged firms, and research institutions, to address specific technology gaps in NASA programs.