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Wanted: Suborbital Flight Technology Payloads & Capabilities

J VanDomelen

J VanDomelen

Posted Apr 16, 2013
1 Comment

Aerospace engineers and executives will be happy to hear that, for the second year, NASA plans to assist makers of space-related technologies, such as advanced payloads and spacecraft systems.

This month, NASA announced that it is soliciting proposals from aerospace technology companies from far and wide. NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is sponsoring the solicitation for proposals, which program officials anticipate receiving from entrepreneurs, scientists, technologists, instrument builders, research managers, and vehicle builders and operators.

Solicitations are invited for NASA’s latest program, called Game Changing Opportunities in Technology Development. It is intended to address several areas of interest: vehicle enhancements, technology payloads, onboard facilities, and small spacecraft propulsion technologies.

“Investing in transformative technology development is critical to enable NASA’s future missions and benefits the greater American aerospace community,” explains James Reuther, deputy associate administrator for programs in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “NASA Space Tech’s Game Changing Development and Flight Opportunities Programs are working with our partners from America’s emerging suborbital flight community to foster frequent and predictable commercial access to near-space while allowing for cutting-edge technology development.”

Space-related technologies selected by NASA officials, will travel to the edge of space and back on U.S. commercial suborbital vehicles and platforms. The program provides aerospace firms and engineers with valuable (and otherwise expensive) opportunities to test their innovations before they are potentially brought to market, purchased, deployed, and expected to work flawlessly and reliably in the unforgiving environment of space—likely for decades at a time.

This geek can’t give enough kudos to NASA for the development of such programs amidst sequestration and tightening budgets.

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[...] NASA will help test selected technologies before they are used for their intended purpose and environment—being launched into and functioning in the dark, cold reaches of outer space. After the selected payloads or technologies are developed, they will be made available to NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program and paired with a commercial, suborbital, reusable launch service provider. Potential exists for a direct orbital flight opportunity if small spacecraft propulsion technologies are selected. [...]

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