$200m for space tech development

$200m for space tech development

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The US space agency NASA is allocating $200m to work with companies to develop new technologies for space.

The Tipping Point programme will  support space technologies that can foster the growth of commercial space capabilities and benefit future agency missions. This includes incentives for small businesses, allowing companies with fewer than 500 employees to contribute less to the cost of the technology development.

The main focus is on space infrastructure and capabilities for the Moon and near-Earth space. Selected proposals for working on and near the Moon could include infrastructure for power distribution on the lunar surface, solutions for using lunar resources, or autonomous construction equipment. NASA says it will also consider proposals for infrastructure and capabilities in Earth orbit, which could range from climate research tools to in-space manufacturing and advanced propulsion systems.

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A separate Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity will offer businesses a chance to work with agency experts or use facilities to complete their work.

“NASA’s investment and support at this pivotal stage in development can be the key to ultimately bringing new technologies to market,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Public-private partnerships established through these opportunities will combine agency resources with industry contributions, a benefit that will unlock new ideas to advance how we live and work in space while providing greater value to the American people.”

“Forging strong partnerships with the commercial space economy is critical for driving our nation’s space exploration further and faster,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington, which manages the new opportunities. “I look forward to the new slate of public-private partnerships that will come from these new opportunities.” 

“A funded Space Act Agreement provides more flexibility for commercial partners in intellectual property, private sector contribution, and accounting requirements,” said LK Kubendran, STMD lead on Tipping Point and Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity.

The first Tipping Point opportunity was launched in 2015 and there have been 50 projects since then. This includes Maxar’s Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot aboard NASA’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing Mission-1 mission to demonstrate in-space assembly, Nokia’s LTE/4G communications system and Intuitive Machines’ hopper robot. Tethers Unlimited’s Hydros thruster flew on NASA’s first Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator CubeSat mission to demonstrate the use of liquid water as fuel in space.

The deadline to submit initial proposals is March 31, 2022. Companies interested in submitting proposals can also attend an industry information session on Feb 28th.

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