Jim Bridenstine, the current administrator from NASA, seems to be very interested in private spaceflight, a trend seen in the latest funding for space exploration technology:
“These awards focus on technology collaborations with the commercial space sector that leverage emerging markets and capabilities to meet NASA’s exploration goals.”
NASA announced their collaboration with several companies to develop “tipping point” technology for their future missions. He explained in the press release on NASA’s website why they chose to fund these companies:
“While these key technologies will support NASA’s science and human exploration missions in the future, these awards are yet another example of NASA’s commitment to our nation’s growing commercial space industry today.”
Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance – The Top Two Partnerships
Among the names announced, you will find some familiar ones, like Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance. Blue Origin received $13 million for a couple of deals – propulsion for landers on the Moon and sensors to help spacecraft land on any kind of surface on the Moon.
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 other companies are Space Systems/Loral (focus on replenishment of satellites), Frontier Aerospace (engines for deep space missions), Astrobotic (work on a sensor for landing planets with high precision), Paragon Space Development (insulate space vehicles against space debris).
If you are wondering why SpaceX and Boeing are not on the list or not even mentioned by NASA, we think it’s because they’re already busy with the spacecraft to send astronauts to the ISS and they have many other projects lined up.
Each award will be up to $10 million if the project reaches a milestone. However, each company will have to spend at least 25% of the cost of their projects. But considering that they can become part of the next era of American spaceflight, it’s not a big price to pay.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.