NASA has selected 13 university teams for collaborative projects to develop and demonstrate new technologies and capabilities and spur innovation in communication, navigation, propulsion, science instruments, and advanced manufacturing for small spacecraft.
Selected project teams will work with engineers and scientists from six NASA centers. The goal of these efforts is to transform small spacecraft, some of which weigh only a few kilograms, into powerful but affordable tools for science, exploration and space operations.
The project teams will have the opportunity to establish a cooperative agreement with NASA in which each university will be funded as much as $100,000 a year, beginning this fall, with most projects lasting two years.
“We are excited about this new opportunity for NASA to work with university students, researchers and faculty in 13 different states to advance technology in the emerging field of small spacecraft,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “In addition to enhancing small spacecraft technology, these teams will help strengthen our nation’s high-tech workforce.”
Results from these projects could lead to the development of miniature radio and navigation devices, a low-power laser communications concept and radiation-tolerant computers. Additional emerging concepts could include energy storage devices and electric propulsion for deep space missions.
Through the cooperative agreements, NASA expects to provide a modest level of civil servant support toward the collaborative work. NASA received nearly 100 proposals from universities across the country in response to this small spacecraft technology solicitation. The agency expects to repeat this solicitation every two years, contingent on the availability of appropriated funds.
“There is a vibrant small spacecraft community within America’s universities and with this initiative NASA seeks to increase our collaboration with that community,” said Andrew Petro, program executive for NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program. “The universities will benefit from the extensive experience NASA has in space research and technology, and NASA will benefit from fresh ideas and cost-conscious innovation at the universities.”
NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program develops and demonstrates new capabilities employing the unique features of small spacecraft for science, exploration and space operations. A complete list of selected teams and projects for the Smallsat Technology Partnerships can be seen online at: https://www.nasa.gov/smallsats .