NASA wants industry to help develop solar array systems capable of powering space vehicles and enabling electric propulsion systems, the space agency announced Thursday.
The agency is soliciting proposals from organizations for advanced space technologies that could lead to new approaches for future space missions, said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s space technology program director.
Gazarik said NASA expects to use received proposals in order to develop revolutionary space solar array systems that are scalable for human exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit.
NASA expects to administer up to three awards worth between $15 million and $20 million total in order for chosen entities to design scalable solar array system structures.
The awards will occur in two acquisition phases, with the first phase centering on designing and testing solar array systems that can generate more than 30 kilowatts of power.
First phase work will also include risk-assessments to determine what the technological risk would be if systems’ power output is pushed greater than 250 kilowatts, NASA said.
The program will then enter a phase focused on proving the flight readiness of the systems through an in-space demonstration.
Once the systems demonstrate the modular and extendable solar array system is functional, the team will determine additional applications for the technologies such as communications satellites and solar electric propulsion systems.
NASA is also hoping to improve tsunami and earthquake detection in the U.S. by applying GPS technologies.