NASA Asteroid Initiative Funds 20 Companies To Capture Asteroid And Bring To The Moon
NASA just funded 20 research teams drawn from companies and private groups all over the U.S., divided into 5 areas of study to a total of $4.9 million dollars for its Asteroid Initiative with the goal of capturing and bringing an asteroid to the Moon.
The ultimate goal to this announcement is human exploration of Mars. Here are just 5 of the these highly innovative companies:
5 Most Innovative Companies For Asteroid Project:
Asteroid capture: Airborne Systems North America in Santa Ana, California, won a grant to fabricate and test a proof-of-concept inflatable capture system. Airborne Systems is a company that has been specializing in inflatables in space. For example they designed an inflatable decelerator that helps the Titan and Mars lander make it safely to the surface with minimal damage.
Asteroid rendezvous and docking: Boeing Company in Huntington Beach, California was awarded a grant to use existing visible and infrared sensors, as well as a 3D lidar (or laser detection and range-finding) that would meet specifications needed for the docking process.
Adapt commercial spacecraft for the Asteroid Redirect Vehicle: ExoTerra Resource in Littleton, Colorado will define concepts for an extensible multipurpose Solar Electric Propulsion module designed for launch on Falcon 9. ExoTerra is a startup space company that is billing itself as the future utilities of space. Among their visionary projects is providing power on the moon, managing waste in orbit. Their asteroid-related proposal is the development of a propulsion unit that is solar-powered.
Partnerships for secondary payloads: The Planetary Society in Pasadena, California proposes a small payload filled with extremophile bacteria in order to test their hardiness on a space trip. Extremophile bacteria live in environments that are considered too hot, too cold etc. The goal is to test ideas of panspermia and origins of life.
Potential partnerships to enhance U.S. exploration activities in cis-lunar space in conjunction with the crewed mission: Deep Space Industries in Houston will examine the economics of a commercially-oriented Asteroid Initiative and develop viable business models. Earlier last year Deep Space Industries stated that it is planning to send out small scout probes they call “fireflies” to asteroids.
Overall, the strategy NASA intends to employ to achieve the goal is in stages, or a series of goals. One of those is the development of expertise and technology to exploit asteroid resources. Recently the funding application phase was completed and in June of 2014 NASA has finally settled on the more than 20 groups that will work on each phase of the project.
In March of this year 2014, NASA issued an agency announcement soliciting ideas for its Asteroid Initiative, which comprises both asteroid capture and redirection.