SpaceX’s Starship wins M-53M from NASA for full-scale orbital refueling test

SpaceX’s Starship program wins $ 53 from NASA for full-scale testing of orbital propellant transfers to take the company and space agency relationship on critical technology to the next level.

NASA announced the results of the fifth round of its “tipping point” request on October 14, announcing a total of more than 370 million in prizes to 14 different companies. This year the investment focuses on three main categories: “Cryogenic Fluid Management, Lunar Surface” [operations], And closed loop [i.e. autonomous] Demonstration of descent and landing ability. “

In the most predictable result, the bulk ($ 176 million) went to Lockheed Martin and the United Launch Alliance (ULA), while the remaining half ((9189 million) went to the remaining 12 companies. Despite being upset, SpaceX got a significant deal for the crucial aspect of starship development.

A starship is refilled in orbit. (SpaceX)

Today’s tipping point agreement is technically the second time NASA has funded SpaceX for propellant transfer development. In October 2019, almost a year ago, SpaceX won $ 3 million to develop and test પરી cryogenic fluid coupler [prototypes] For large-scale in-space propellant transfers, ”marks the first direct investment by NASA in Starship. It seems that NASA is completely satisfied with the results of that icebreaker test – ars 53.2 million is enough to complete the full demonstration of the starship propellant transfer.

As Eric Burger of Ars Technica notes, NASA invested eight figures in the SpaceX Starship Propellant Transfer demonstration – letting each other put about $ 250 million into four different companies – which is surprising. In doing so, NASA is effectively testing the tolerance of political stakeholders in programs such as Orion and SLS – programs that exist more to save jobs and advance congressional stakeholders. If parameters (sizes) and more efficient solutions such as distributed launches and orbital refueling were shown under NASA’s own jurisdiction, it would be more difficult to defend legacy programs that hemorrhage the space agency’s annual budget for about 20%. A decade.

NASA says this round of tipping point agreements could last up to five years. With the exception of 41.6 million contracts with intuitive machines to develop spacecraft on the lunar surface capable of moving around the lunar surface, the most interesting awards focus on “cryogenic fluid management”. Eta Space received million 27 million for a small-scale flight demonstration of a fully cryogenic oxygen oxygen fluid management system to integrate the Rocket Lab’s photon spacecraft with the bus and launch it on an electron rocket.

Lockheed Martin “won $ 89.7 million to test performance missions in space using liquid hydrogen … to test more than a dozen cryogenic liquid management techniques.” The ULA, of which Lockheed Martin is a member, was awarded Rs.286.2 million in the upper phase of the Vulcan Center for testing “precise tank pressure control, tank-to-tank transfer and multi-week propellant storage”.

SpaceX has won NASA funding to develop a custom starship variant designed to land astronauts on the moon. (SpaceX)

In the end, SpaceX won 53.2 million for “massive flight performance” to move 10 metric tons [liquid oxygen] Between the tanks on the starship vehicle. Notably, this means that NASA is effectively financing a ship’s orbital flight test in which a starship prototype will attempt to transfer liquid oxygen between its main LOX tank and a small ‘header’ tank.

Ahead of the April 2020 deal that paid SpaceX 5 5,135 million to develop a St-optimized crew Starship design for Moon Landing, NASA has begun to put some serious money into developing a variety of innovative solutions that could enable sustainable humans. Space exploration.

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