Two NASA contract awards assist in the development of critical technologies
Redmond, Washington – July 15, 2015 – Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, is taking steps towards its goal of opening up democratic access to the Solar System’s resources. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded the company two grants to advance the innovative designs of a compact hyperspectral imager and a 3D printed integrated structure and propulsion system. These technologies will play major roles in Planetary Resources’ mission to detect and identify commercially viable near-Earth asteroids.
The Compact Hyperspectral Aberration-Corrected Platform (CHAP) will enable more capable imaging missions on small satellites at an unprecedented low cost. By operating in a reduced-light environment with minimal mass and power consumption, the compact imager will be capable of conducting in-situ analysis of Solar System bodies from a microsatellite platform. This application is crucial for the study of resources on near-Earth asteroids by both maximizing capability and minimizing instrumental cost and complexity. These same innovations can also be used for Earth observations that require hyperspectral imaging, such as monitoring crop health, measuring water quality and determining composition from orbit.
“We find Planetary Resources’ proposed technical approach to CHAP to be highly relevant to not only NASA, but the resulting systems will deliver low-cost access to hyperspectral observation data that will have broad applications in the agriculture, oil & gas and mining industries,” said Matias de Tezanos, Chief Executive Officer, PeopleFund.
Planetary Resources’ second awarded contract, the Integrated Propulsion and Primary Structure Model (IPPSM) for small satellite and CubeSat applications will provide increased propulsion capability without increasing costs. The CubeSat platform has become a viable option for both technology development and scientific investigation, but the propulsion capabilities have remained one of the most resource-intensive systems to successfully implement. The IPPSM aims to reduce the resources needed for the propulsion system by integrating it with the spacecraft’s primary structure using emerging 3D printing technologies. The resulting integrated system provides a standard interface and serves as a base for additional CubeSat subsystems and payloads. The high-thrust, high delta-V propulsion system requires fewer spacecraft resources for implementation, ultimately providing more economical access to space.
“3D Systems is proud to support Planetary Resources in the development of the IPPSM, leveraging our most advanced 3D digital design and fabrication solutions to create high-performance precision parts with enhanced functionality,” said Avi Reichental, President and Chief Executive Officer, 3D Systems. “From space exploration to energy generation to patient-specific medicine, we’re helping transform bold ideas into improved outcomes for the benefit of humanity.”
“These contracts advance our pursuit of democratizing access to space with the most sophisticated, yet cost-effective systems,” said Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc. “Imaging and propulsion are vital in our mission to prospect materials from resource-rich asteroids. Both the CHAP and IPPSM systems will contribute to collecting further information on these asteroids by enhancing our fleet of prospecting spacecraft. We look forward to advancing these technologies and serving customers as we deploy them first in Earth’s orbit.”
About Planetary Resources
Planetary Resources, Inc. was founded in 2009 by Eric Anderson and Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. Our vision is to establish a new paradigm for resource utilization that will bring the Solar System within humanity’s economic sphere of influence. The company will conduct low-cost robotic space exploration beginning with the Arkydseries of space missions that will identify the most commercially viable near-Earth asteroids. These initial missions will assist the company in enabling the retrieval of raw materials from these select asteroids, including water, precious metals and more.
Planetary Resources is financed by industry-launching visionaries, three of whom include Google’s CEO Larry Page & Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt; and Ross Perot, Jr., Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group; who are committed to expanding the world’s resource base so humanity can continue to grow and prosper for centuries to come. Some of the company’s partners and advisors include the Bechtel Corporation; film maker and explorer James Cameron; former Chief of Staff, United States Air Force General T. Michael Moseley (Ret.); Sara Seager, Ph.D., professor of Planetary Science & Physics at MITand TED fellow; and Dante Lauretta, Ph.D., professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona and principal investigator of NASA’sOSIRIS-REx mission. Members of the company’s technical staff have worked on every recent U.S. Mars lander including Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity, and include other key non-aerospace and safety-critical disciplines. For more information, please visit www.planetaryresources.com.