Aerospace firms tout solar electric propulsion to Congress

A handful of private firms submitted testimony to Congress touting the potential uses of solar electric propulsion at a hearing on in-space propulsion held last week by the U.S. House of Representatives’ subcommittee on space. SEP systems could replace chemical propulsion for use in deep space exploration, but experts say the technology needs more improvement to become a viable propulsion option. “We are on the cusp of a giant leap

On-orbit satellite maintenance ‘will change the space system paradigm’

NASA, DARPA, and others are developing technologies to support autonomous refueling and maintenance capabilities for satellites while they’re orbiting Earth, as part of a wider ambition to advance autonomous servicing capabilities that’ll enable a new era of infrastructure building in space. On-orbit satellite servicing will help extend the mission lives of satellites, but the technology that’s being developed to do so will help usher in a new era of space

Brane Craft, the ‘nearly 2-dimensional’ solution to space debris, gets more NASA funding

Aerospace Corp’s senior nanotechnology scientist Dr. Siegfried Janson has designed a nearly two-dimensional spacecraft that could be used to removed dead satellites and other space debris from orbit. The Brane Craft proposal was one of 13 designs chosen by NASA last year to receive a $100,000 Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) grant. This week, Janson’s project was chosen to for another $500,000 in phase II funding to fund another two years

Lockheed Martin partners with NASA on telescope instruments to study dark energy, furthest reaches of space

Lockheed Martin is building tools to help NASA with  the hunt for data and more direct evidence of dark energy, the force physicists believe to be behind the universe’s accelerating expansion. The aerospace giant is developing a system of instruments that, if selected for production, will comprise the core tools installed on the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which aims not only to reveal hundreds of millions more stars, but to help study