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NASA Invests in Private Lunar Landing Technologies

Blue Origin, Paragon, and Astrobotic Technology are just three of the companies selected by NASA this week to receive funding for particular projects they are working on.
Blue Origin gets yet another NASA investment 1 photo
Although in the grand scheme of space exploration handing over between $1.6 million and $10 million for this or that idea might not seem like such a big investment, every dollar counts, says NASA, adding that the projects it selected could benefit vastly from the money it gives.

The space agency calls the projects it selected tipping point technologies, meaning they only need one investment in a ground or flight demonstration to significantly mature and improve it.

"These awards focus on technology collaborations with the commercial space sector that leverage emerging markets and capabilities to meet NASA's exploration goals," said in a statement NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"While these key technologies will support NASA's science and human exploration missions in the future, these awards are yet another example of NASA’s commitment to our nation's growing commercial space industry today."

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, already an agency regular when it comes to investments, will get from NASA a total of $13 million, which is to go into the development of two projects: cryogenic liquid propulsion, and technologies that enable precision and soft landing on the Moon. Both will be tested on the New Shepard suborbital vehicle.

One of NASA’s longtime partners, United Launch Alliance, will get nearly $14 million for a cryogenic upper stage system, which could be used in a lunar lander as well, and a system for mid-air retrieval on a vehicle returning to Earth from orbital velocity.

$1.9 million will go to Frontier Aerospace and its testing of the Deep Space Engine, which will also be used on a lunar lander. Space Systems/Loral will receive $4 million for satellite servicing and electric propulsion research, while Paragon Space Development will get 1.6 million for cryogenic upper stage tank insulation. $10 million are reserved for Astrobotic's optical sensor suite designed to deliver robotic landers to planetary surfaces.

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