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USAF Taps Rhea Space Activity to Investigate Propulsion System for Space Force Comms Spacecraft

USAF Taps Rhea Space Activity to Investigate Propulsion System for Space Force Comms Spacecraft - top government contractors - best government contracting event

Rhea Space Activity has received an award to research and develop a solar-thermal propulsion system that could be used by the U.S. Space Force for a deep-space lunar communications spacecraft.

The company said Monday it will investigate a bi-modal propulsion system for the Scorpius spacecraft through a phase one award under the U.S. Air Force’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

USAF selected RSA for the project under the 2021 Space Force Pitch Day event, which will take place virtually on Aug. 19. SBIR Phase one participants may exhibit their entries during the event.

RSA will develop an origami-inspired, unfolding solar reflector that would vaporize propellant to boost Scorpius. The reflector will additionally serve as an antenna for both large-area communications and solar power generation of Scorpius’ subsystems.

Scorpius will also address the safety gaps seen in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations project. DRACO, also a nuclear-thermal propulsion system, presented safety challenges due to its nuclear nature and RSA plans to address this issue through Scorpius.

“Multiple uses for the unfolding origami-type solar-reflector allows for a complete rethink of satellite comms and power systems,” said Beau Rideout, an aerospace engineer at RSA.

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