Companies with technologies that may advance exploration but need a little extra push to finalize development have two new opportunities to partner with NASA to make it over the finish line.
Through Tipping Point, NASA seeks to support space technologies that can foster the growth of commercial space capabilities and benefit future agency missions. NASA is also offering businesses a chance to work with agency experts or use facilities to complete their work through a separate Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity.
“NASA’s investment and support at this pivotal stage in development can be the key to ultimately bringing new technologies to market,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Public-private partnerships established through these opportunities will combine agency resources with industry contributions, a benefit that will unlock new ideas to advance how we live and work in space while providing greater value to the American people.”
These opportunities focus on technology development for space infrastructure and capabilities for the Moon and near-Earth space. Selected proposals for working on and near the Moon could include infrastructure for power distribution on the lunar surface, solutions for using lunar resources, or autonomous construction – key components for long-term lunar exploration under Artemis. NASA will also consider proposals for infrastructure and capabilities in Earth orbit – which could range from climate research tools to in-space manufacturing and advanced propulsion.
“Forging strong partnerships with the commercial space economy is critical for driving our nation’s space exploration further and faster,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington, which manages the new opportunities. “I look forward to the new slate of public-private partnerships that will come from these new opportunities.”
NASA Offers Help Up to $200 Million
Under the Tipping Point opportunity, NASA will award a total of up to $200 million to multiple companies using funded Space Act Agreements. The opportunity also includes incentives for small businesses, allowing companies with fewer than 500 employees to contribute less to the cost of the technology development.
“A funded Space Act Agreement provides more flexibility for commercial partners in intellectual property, private sector contribution, and accounting requirements,” said LK Kubendran, STMD lead on Tipping Point and Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity.
More than half a billion dollars have been awarded to 50 projects since NASA announced the first Tipping Point opportunity in 2015. Space technologies advanced through this funding are now part of current and future mission plans. They include:
- Maxar’s Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot aboard NASA’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing Mission-1 mission will demonstrate in-space assembly to form a communications antenna following OSAM-1’s launch
- Tethers Unlimited’s Hydros thruster flew on NASA’s first Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator CubeSat mission to demonstrate the use of liquid water as fuel in space
- Two technologies will be aboard the second Intuitive Machines flight to the Moon under the Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative: Nokia of America Corporation’s lunar LTE/4G communications system and Intuitive Machines’ hopper robot
The Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity allows companies to use NASA facilities and expertise to aid in technology development without a monetary award.