New Technology with NASA Funding

NASA Funding

NASA and technology go hand in hand. The government agency has recently released a report describing twelve new possibilities, developed independently, which it will fund. There are a total of eleven partners, ten of which are aerospace companies. From $400,000 to $7.9 million, the total awarded depends on the particular gadget to be produced.

The money was dispersed through NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program, which selected individual companies (and one university!) based off of their technical expertise and commitment toward both private and government development.

According to NASA’s NextSTEP website, the proposals were divided into three main categories: small satellites, human habitation, and new propulsion systems. The awarded money will create new bonds between NASA and institutions, and further cement long standing commitments. Lockheed Martin received two awards for two different categories.

In the propulsion category, NASA moved its money to developments in electricity, where the administration is lacking. It’s best current electric technology can generate 5 kilowatts of power, but they are hoping to eventually achieve 300 kilowatts. There were three companies selected and each will have a three year window to prove themselves. They are Ad Astra Rocket Company, MSNW LLC and Aeroject Rocketdyne Inc.

There are a number of companies working towards habitation development, big names include Boeing and Lockheed Martin. They will mainly be working on technology for the Orion spacecraft and eventually life on Mars. The companies will have a single year for development, and received between 400,000 and 1 million in funds.

NASA is expected to launch its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in three years and the bulk of awarded money will go towards research in small satellites which may be included in the initial flight. This is the vehicle that is replacing the classic Space Shuttle. Between the SLS and Orion, NASA is expected to spend a total of $18 billion.

With all this new technology slated for development, what’s the main point? We are reaching a time when the realization of pushing the boundary of human exploration is within reach. The most far reaching hopes for all this technology is a semi-habitable location on Mars, to be founded in either 2033 or 2045.