NASA picks space technology projects for future missions

NASA has selected two new space technology projects to develop in conjunction with the agency’s efforts to pursue low-cost revolutionary technology required for future missions.

NASA has announced two new relatively low-cost projects as part of its Game Changing Technology Development program.

The first concept, known as ‘Ride the Light’, seeks to provide external power on demand for aerospace vehicles and other applications, while the second is looking at a new prototype battery.

The ‘Ride the Light’ concept will utilise beamed power and propulsion produced by commercially available power sources such as lasers and microwave energy.

According to NASA, the project will attempt to develop a low-cost, modular power-beaming capability and explore multiple technologies to function as receiving elements of the beamed power.

NASA believes this combination of technologies could be applied to space propulsion, performance and endurance of unpiloted aerial vehicles or ground-to-ground power-beaming applications.

NASA has awarded approximately $3m (£2.2m) for concept studies to multiple companies during this first phase of the ’Ride the Light’ project, including Teledyne Brown Engineering, ATK, and Teledyne Scientific.

NASA has also selected Amprius to pursue development of a prototype battery that could be used for future agency missions. Amprius is teaming with JPL and NASA’s Glenn Research Center on the project, with an estimated value of $710,000 for one year of development.

‘The Game Changing Technology Development program uses a rolling selection process to mature new, potentially transformative technologies from low to moderate technology readiness levels — from the edge of reality to a test article ready for the rigours of the lab,’ said Michael Gazarik, space technology director.

‘These two new projects are just the beginning. Space technology is making investments in critical technology areas that will enable NASA’s future missions, while benefiting the American aerospace community,’ he added.