NASA seeking proposals for ultra-lightweight materials to assist missions to Mars

27 Oct 2014

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NASA is inviting institutes to submit proposals that can help in the development of ultra-lightweight materials for spacecraft and structures.

The agency is seeking lower-mass alternatives to honeycomb or foam cores it currently uses extensively. NASA hopes to develop new cost-effective manufacturing approaches to produce ultra-lightweight core materials that can be used in for a variety of purposes, including in-space propulsion, planetary exploration robotics, deep ice penetration systems and space observatory systems. The reduced mass will also help decrease mission costs.

Government agencies, non-profit organisations, federally funded research and development centers and educational institutions will be among the organisations invited to submit proposals.

"Technology drives exploration and ultra-lightweight materials will play a key role in our future missions," said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology at NASA headquarters, in a statement.

"This call for proposals continues a cadence of solicitations that touch on a specific set of thrust areas needed to push human and robotic exploration farther in the solar system."

NASA says it expects to make two awards of up to US$550,000 each for this first development phase.

Cape Canaveral image via Shutterstock

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Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com