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NASA Selects In-Space Propulsion Innovations for Research

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, May 16, 2003

image NASA has selected 15 industry, government and academic organizations to pursue 22 innovative propulsion technology research proposals that could revolutionize exploration and scientific study of the solar system.

Total value of the work to be done over a three-year period is approximately $20 million, with $9.6 million in fiscal year 2003; $10.2 million in fiscal year 2004; and $0.6 million in fiscal year 2005. The research will be conducted in five, in-space propulsion technology areas: aerocapture; advanced chemical propulsion; solar electric propulsion; space-based tether propulsion; and solar sail technologies.

Each technology identified for development is part of the In-Space Propulsion (ISP) Program, managed in the Office of Space Sciences, NASA Headquarters. The awards are being made as part of the In-Space Propulsion Technologies "Cycle 2" amendment to NASA Research Announcement 02-OSS-01.

"We want to increase the frequency, speed, and return on our missions and enable whole new missions that are impossible or impractical with today's propulsion technologies," said Dr. Colleen Hartman, director of the Solar System Exploration Division, NASA Headquarters.

"This round of selections further broadens NASA's investment portfolio for in-space propulsion technologies," said Paul Wercinski, ISP Program Executive, Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters. "We are excited to see these technologies eventually fly on future science missions."

"Our goal is to develop technologies that will make deep- space exploration more practical, more affordable, and more productive," said Les Johnson, In-Space Transportation manager at the NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Ala.

Contract awards:

Aerocapture Technology:

  • Ball Aerospace, Boulder, Colo.
  • Lockheed Martin, Denver

Advanced Chemical Propulsion:

  • TRW Space & Electronics, Redondo Beach, Calif.
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. (three awards)
  • VACCO Industries, Inc., El Monte, Calif.

Kilowatt Solar Electric Propulsion System:

  • NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland
  • Busek Co. Inc., Natick, Mass.

Momentum-eXchange/Electrodynamic Reboost (MXER) Tether Technology:

  • Tethers Unlimited, Inc., Lynnwood, Wash. (two awards)
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tenn.
  • Lockheed Martin, Denver (two awards)

Solar Sails:

  • NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. (two awards)
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz.
  • NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.
  • U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington
  • SRS Technologies, Huntsville, Ala.

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