The goal of the AES Advanced Electric Propulsion Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) activity is to develop and demonstrate high specific impulse (~2000 to ~5000 s range), high efficiency (greater than 60%), and high power (50 to 300 kW range) electric propulsion technology for long-duration, deep-space transportation systems. Three companies were awarded fixed price, milestone based contracts to mature and test high power Electric Propulsion (EP) systems to a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5. The intent of these Advanced Propulsion NextSTEP BAA contracts will be to enable a public-private partnership for robust exploration and implementation of opportunities managed by NASA's HEOMD/AES Division.
This work is being led by three companies, Ad Astra, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and MSNW, LLC, that were competitively selected by NASA's HEOMD/AES Division in response to the NextSTEP BAA solicitation in the area of Advanced Propulsion. Each company was awarded a fixed price, milestone achievement based contract, with a one year base period and two one-year options. Also, each company was required as part of their proposal submittal to show a minimum 50% corporate contribution (made within the last five years) that was directly relevant to the Advanced Electric Propulsion NextSTEP BAA Activity. Some of these prior, relevant corporate contributions are shown in the project library. During the third year of these contracts, each contractor will demonstrate a 100 kW EP system for 100 continuous hours (at thermal steady-state). Specifically, Ad Astra will test a Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) EP system; Aerojet Rocketdyne will test a Nested Hall Thruster EP system; and MSNW, LCC will test an Electrodeless Lorentz Force (ELF) Thruster EP system.
These technology maturation and demonstration activities are focused on further development of high power EP engine technologies and includes the following objectives to be met by the end of these three year contract efforts:
Not applicable to currently funded missions.
High power electric systems in the range of 50 to 300 kW per thruster would significantly enhance or enable a variety of mission concepts that could include Earth-orbiting tugs, Earth-Cislunar tugs, Earth-Mars cargo transfer, Earth-Mars human transfer, and other human space exploration missions.
NASA expects the capabilities and technologies developed through these partnerships to also provide significant commercial benefits, particularly for use in Earth-orbit and Earth-Cislunar space in the near-term.More »
Responsibility for this activity will transfer to the Space Technology Mission Directorate in 2019.More »
|Organizations Performing Work||Role||Type||Location|
|NASA Headquarters (HQ)||Lead Organization||NASA Center||Washington, DC|
|Ad Astra Rocket Company||Supporting Organization||Industry|
|Aerojet Rocketdyne||Supporting Organization||Industry|
|Glenn Research Center (GRC)||Supporting Organization||NASA Center||Cleveland, OH|
|Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)||Supporting Organization||NASA Center||Pasadena, CA|
|Johnson Space Center (JSC)||Supporting Organization||NASA Center||Houston, TX|
|MSNW, LLC||Supporting Organization||Industry||Redmond, WA|
|Silicon Turnkey Solutions||Industry|
|University of Michigan||Academic||Ann Arbor, MI|