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By Nick Wakeman

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NASA picks 18 projects that could revolutionize space tech

NASA has made 18 awards for “potentially revolutionary space tech concepts” and perusing the list is like reading a prop list for a sci-fi movie:

  • Dual-use exoplanet telescope
  • Power for interstellar flight
  • Ripcord innovative power system
  • Diffractive light sails
  • Rotary-motion-extended array synthesis or R-MXAS

The 18 awards went primarily to universities and NASA office, but there are some companies on the list including Leidos, whose John Kendra was picked for work on R-MXAS. They’re getting $500,000 to continue work on a platform that takes data and performs image reconstitution. There are both space-based and ground-based components. 

The awards are part of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program. The Phase I awards are to test the feasibility of the proposed concepts. Phase II are to further test and develop the concept. Leidos’ award is a Phase 2.

“The funded technologies have the potential to transform human and robotic exploration of other worlds, including the moon and Mars,” NASA said in its announcement.

Other private sector recipients are:

  • 3DeWitt LLC of Ancramdale, New York, which received a Phase I award for novel telescope design, and a Phase II award for a flexible optical telescope design.
  • Howe Industries LLC of Tempe, Arizona, won a Phase I award for a lightweight nuclear electric propulsion probe.
  • TransAstra Corp., Lake View Terrace, California, a Phase I award for lunar pole mining.
  • MSNW LLC of Redmond, Washington, a Phase I award for a system to mitigate small space debris.

Later this year, NASA will pick a single, Phase III recipient, who will get up to $2 million and two years to further develop the technology for use by NASA and commercial companies.

Now these NASA awards don’t fall neatly into the usual IT fare that we cover but I wanted to point them out. It is good to stretch our imagination some and to be reminded about the ultimate mission of this particular customer.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Apr 12, 2019 at 11:19 AM


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