NASA, ULA Partner for Cryogenic Fluid Mgmt, Spacecraft Retrieval Projects

NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center has partnered with United Launch Alliance to develop systems to manage cryogenic liquid and retrieve space vehicles in midair.

The Lockheed MartinBoeing joint venture will receive $2 million to demonstrate how very-low cryogenic fuel boil off can support long-duration missions with the Centaur Cryote-3 rocket stage under the Cryogenic Fluid Management Technology Demonstration effort, NASA said Thursday.

The agency’s Kennedy Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center will support the project.

ULA will also receive $1.9M to administer a mid-air retrieval demonstration on a vehicle returning to Earth from orbital velocity through the use of an ocean-going ship built to transport helicopters to a recovery zone.

NASA intends to pair the effort with the Low-Earth Orbit Flight Test of an Inflatable Decelerator project that seeks to showcase platforms mid-air retrieval platforms up to 8,000 pounds while increasing current platforms by a factor of four.

The agency chose ULA and five other U.S. companies to develop 10 “tipping point” technology platforms for potential use in government and commercial space programs.

A technology is considered tipping point if ground or flight demonstrations of the technologies will result in a subsequent maturation phase and eventually the company’s marketing of the product, according to NASA.

The estimated total cost of the 10 projects is $44M.

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