NASA Collaborates With American Companies on Essential Moon and Exploration Technology

NASA has announced its partnership with 11 American companies to develop technologies that will support long-term exploration on the Moon and in space. These technologies include lunar surface power systems and tools for in-space 3D printing, which will enhance industry capabilities for sustained human presence on the Moon through the Artemis program, as well as other NASA, government, and commercial missions.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed the importance of partnering with the commercial space industry to leverage American innovation and ingenuity. He believes that the technologies being invested in today have the potential to be the foundation of future exploration.

Under NASA’s sixth Tipping Point opportunity, the selected projects will be jointly funded by NASA and the industry partners. NASA is expected to contribute $150 million to these partnerships, while each company will contribute a minimum percentage of the total project cost. The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA will issue milestone-based funded Space Act Agreements that will last up to four years.

The selected technologies will support infrastructure and capabilities in space and on the Moon. Six of the chosen companies are small businesses. The awarded companies and their projects, along with the approximate value of NASA’s contribution, are as follows:

Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh: $34.6 million for LunaGrid-Lite, a demonstration of tethered, scalable lunar power transmission.

Big Metal Additive of Denver: $5.4 million to improve the cost and availability of space habitat structures with additive manufacturing.

Blue Origin of Kent, Washington: $34.7 million for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU)-based power on the Moon.

Freedom Photonics of Santa Barbara, California: $1.6 million to develop a highly efficient watt-class direct diode lidar for remote sensing.

Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado: $9.1 million for joining demonstrations in space.

Redwire of Jacksonville, Florida: $12.9 million for infrastructure manufacturing with lunar regolith – Mason.

Protoinnovations of Pittsburgh: $6.2 million for the Mobility Coordinator, an onboard commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software architecture for lunar surface mobility operations.

Psionic of Hampton, Virginia: $3.2 million to validate no-light lunar landing technology that reduces risk, size, weight, and power.

United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado: $25 million for ULA Vulcan Engine Reuse Scale Hypersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator Technology Demonstration.

Varda Space Industries of El Segundo, California: $1.9 million for conformal phenolic impregnated carbon ablator tech transfer and commercial production.

Zeno Power Systems of Washington: $15 million for a universal americium-241 radioisotope power supply for Artemis.

Dr. Prasun Desai, acting associate administrator for STMD at NASA Headquarters, emphasized the importance of these partnerships in humanity’s return to the Moon through the Artemis program. By creating streamlined awards, NASA hopes to push crucial technologies to completion so that they can be utilized in future missions. These innovative partnerships will advance capabilities that enable sustainable exploration on the Moon.

Five of the selected technologies will contribute to lunar exploration by providing habitats, power, transportation, and other infrastructure necessary for astronauts to spend extended periods on the lunar surface. Two projects will utilize lunar regolith to create infrastructure through in-situ resource utilization. Redwire aims to develop technologies that use lunar regolith to build roads, foundations for habitats, and landing pads. Blue Origin plans to extract elements from lunar regolith to produce solar cells and wire for powering work on the Moon.

Astrobotic’s selected proposal involves advancing technology for distributing power on the Moon’s surface. The company’s CubeRover will unreel a high-voltage power line that can transfer power from a production system to a habitat or work area on the Moon.

The remaining six projects will contribute to new capabilities in other areas of space exploration and Earth observation. Freedom Photonics will develop a novel laser source for a more efficient lidar system, which can improve scientists’ understanding of climate change. United Launch Alliance will continue developing inflatable heat shield technology for potential reuse of large rocket components and landing heavier payloads on destinations like Mars.