NASA selects nine technologies for commercial flight testing

NASA selects nine technologies for commercial flight testing

The high-altitude balloon is a suborbital test vehicle that researchers can use through a commercial vendor with support from NASA TechFlights.Credits: SpaceWorks Enterprises

NASA has selected nine space technologies for flight testing to advance innovations that meet the mission needs of the agency and the commercial space industry.

As part of NASA’s 2022 TechFlights solicitation, these technologies will be aboard commercial suborbital vehicles such as high-altitude balloons, aircraft following parabolic flight profiles, suborbital rocket propulsion systems, and commercial payload-carrying platforms in orbit such as spacecraft ) on. By preparing these technologies in an environment similar to what they will experience in space, NASA, industry, and universities can help reduce potential costs and risks before deploying these technologies to Earth orbit or the Moon , Mars and other longer, more expensive missions, and beyond.

“This $6.1 million investment in technology testing will contribute to proven technologies for the agency’s goals from space exploration to scientific discovery,” said Walt Engelund, associate associate director for programs for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. . “In doing so, we’re also providing critical support to help the commercial space industry thrive.”

These technologies were selected by STMD’s Flight Opportunities Program, which rapidly demonstrates technologies for space exploration, discovery and commercial expansion in space. For the first time, the 2022 TechFlights solicitation includes partnerships with the agency’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program for testing opportunities hosted on commercial platforms and spacecraft in orbit.

“Flight Opportunity is excited to support these efforts to address some of the most important challenges facing space exploration and Earth observation,” said Danielle McCulloch, acting program manager for Flight Opportunity at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. Say. “Working with the Small Spacecraft Technology Program this year to provide opportunities for payloads on commercial orbital platforms, we can expand our reach to advance more technologies from a variety of agencies and technical disciplines.”

Organizations developing selected technologies will receive grants or partnership agreements that allow them to purchase flights from the U.S. commercial flight provider that best meets their needs. As in previous years, the 2022 solicitation includes options for researchers to conduct automated technology experiments unattended, or to have one or more researchers fly with their technology payloads on parabolic or suborbital rockets .

The call for proposals includes three topic areas that reflect NASA’s priorities for advancing the goals of space exploration and scientific discovery. These topics focus on infrastructure and capabilities to support a robust lunar economy, services and infrastructure from low Earth orbit to geosynchronous Earth orbit, Earth observation architecture, and systems to monitor and respond to climate change.

The selected technologies are:

Creare, based in Hanover, New Hampshire, will test a device designed to support the transfer of liquid propellant from a supply tank to a receiver tank under microgravity conditions as a potential solution for refueling satellites and spacecraft on long-duration missions. The technology is planned for parabolic flight on the Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) G-Force One aircraft.

Giner of Newton, Mass., will test a fuel cell energy storage system designed as a potential power source for future spacecraft or lunar surface operations to evaluate its gas-liquid phase separator in microgravity. This technology is planned to run on ZERO-G’s G-Force One.

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, will test an imaging and particle detector system designed to improve autonomous assessments of wildfire structure and spread. The system uses aerosol measurement instruments that could be applied on other planets. The technology is planned to be carried on Aerostar’s high-altitude balloons.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will evaluate a technique designed to measure electrical changes that exist between a receiver on a suborbital vehicle and an orbiting GPS satellite to assess its impact on the atmosphere. The ability of the model to provide information. The technology is planned to run on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket propulsion system.

Paragon Space Development Corporation in Tucson, Arizona, will evaluate a device under microgravity conditions to capture and separate liquid condensate from cabin air to support spacecraft temperature and humidity control. This technology is planned to run on ZERO-G’s G-Force One.

Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, will conduct an experiment to analyze heat transfer in cryogenic propellant storage for modeling and design of future propellant delivery and management systems. This technology is planned to run on ZERO-G’s G-Force One.

The Rhea Space Activity in Washington will test guidance and navigation technology for small spacecraft with the goal of demonstrating its ability to autonomously determine orbits in Earth-lunar space. The technology is planned to fly on Spaceflight’s Sherpa orbital transfer vehicle.

San Diego State University in San Diego, California, will test a system designed to improve the precision landing capabilities of spacecraft through adaptive navigation, allowing researchers to evaluate its performance on rocket-powered landers. The technology is planned to fly on Astrobotic’s Xodiac aircraft.

The University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky, will improve mechanisms for rehydrating red blood cells in the space environment. This technique could be used to provide blood transfusions to astronauts on long-duration space missions. The technology is planned to fly on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo system.

Submit your tech for TechFlights 2023

NASA’s TechFlights awards provide funding for space technologies tested on commercial aircraft. Administered by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, the next TechFlights solicitation is expected in early 2023. Subscribe to the Flight Opportunities newsletter for announcements about TechFlights and other visiting flight testing opportunities, and download this infographic to learn more.

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