Artist’s illustration of two Starship vehicles docked together in Earth orbit. Credit: SpaceX
NASA has selected 14 companies for contracts of more than $370 million to advance technology for human missions to the moon and Mars. The lion’s share of the money will go toward flight demonstrations by SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and other companies that could lead to in-space refueling and propellant depots for reusable lunar landers and deep space transportation vehicles.
The “Tipping Point” awards will allow NASA to pay companies to perform technology demonstrations in space, following awards in previous years that focused on component development and ground testing.
NASA selected Lockheed Martin, United Launch Alliance, SpaceX and a small Florida-based company named Eta Space for the highest-value awards focusing on cryogenic fluid management, capabilities that could lead to the transfer of super-cold liquid hydrogen, methane, and liquid oxygen propellants between vehicles in space.
Roughly $256 million of the $372 million in NASA Tipping Point awards announced Wednesday will support cryogenic storage and refueling technology. The rest is aimed at developing power, precision landing, communications and other systems to support future missions to the surface of the moon.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday that NASA aims ...