NASA seeks proposals for deep space missions
NASA is preparing to launch its Orion spacecraft in December and its Space Launch System (SLS) is scheduled to fly by 2018. However, impressive as this is, more is needed if buyer's regret isn't to set in. To avoid this, the space agency is asking for proposals to develop new technologies to send astronauts to the asteroids and Mars using "sustainable, evolvable, multi-use space capabilities."
The Broad Area Announcement (BAA) isn't for fully-devoted technologies, but offers funds for studies aimed at the development of three areas of advanced propulsion systems, space habitats, and nanosatellites.
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PropulsionNASA has had success with ion engines, but the space agency say it needs engines that jump from the current 5 kW to 40 kW, if it can be used for the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), and is looking for proposals for systems that can reach 50 to 300 kW.
HabitatsAnother area of interest is space habitats. The Orion capsule may be capable of carrying of astronauts into deep space, but any mission beyond three weeks duration will require a habitat to provide more living space. To help achieve this, NASA is soliciting proposals for studies into the transportation, operation, and environmental capabilities of habitats.
NanosatellitesThese will be carried as piggyback payloads on the SLS beginning with Exploration Mission-1. NASA is looking for more general proposals for the design and employment of nanosats.
NASA is accepting proposals electronically from US companies, nonprofits and international institutions until December 12.