NASA recently selected Boeing to work on seven technology development projects worth almost $25 million in the first year as part of NASA’s Human and Robotic Technology (H&RT) program.
The H&RT is linked to Project Constellation Spirals one and two, which are efforts to return humans to the moon by 2020. The development projects will support the research and technology goals and objectives of NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration, which calls for a “building block” strategy of human and robotic missions to achieve new space exploration goals.
Boeing’s remit includes a contract to develop a fully integrated scalable, modular two fluid propulsion and power module for sustainable architecture. Valued at more than $2 million, this project will be managed by Boeing Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power in Canoga Park, California, focusing on the development of a combined propulsion and power unit. It will require only two liquid propellants, compared to as many as five in current designs.
Boeing will also develop a multimegawatt-class magneto plasma dynamic electric propulsion system. The goal is a lithium-fuelled 500-kWe electric propulsion system capable of running for up to 1,000 hours. Part of the demonstration will include a test at the full power required for Mars/Lunar missions. Phase One research could be worth up to $6 million.
In addition to these awards, Boeing will also serve as a subcontractor to the Georgia Institute of Technology for a project called Silicon-Germanium Integrated Electronics for Extreme Environments. This project will develop electronic modules able to survive the lunar night without heaters. By eliminating heaters, low-temperature electronics can reduce the need for batteries, save weight, and lower the mission costs.