NASA has picked 17 US companies to develop new tech for space missions.

In a statement, NASA said it had signed 20 Space Act Agreements with the 17 companies. No money will be exchanged, but the chosen firms will get access to NASA’s testing facilities and expertise, which it valued at about $15.5 million.

The space companies chosen range from huge aerospace firms such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin and other smaller startups.

SpaceX will partner with NASA’s Langley Research Centre to monitor the temperature of its Starship vehicle, in order to develop reusable thermal protection, NASA said.

Blue Origin will partner with NASA on two projects — one to improve the intelligence of space robots, and the other to improve rocket engine designs.

New Jersey-based AI SpaceFactory, which was awarded $500,000 after winning a NASA challenge in May 2019, is also on the list. The aerospace business will link up with the Kennedy Space Centre to make a new material for 3D-printing, with the goal of building large structures on the moon’s surface, NASA said.

These partnerships are part of a program managed by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

The space companies are:

  • SpaceX
  • Blue Origin
  • Rocket Lab
  • AI SpaceFactory
  • Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc. of Redmond, Washington
  • Ahmic Aerospace LLC of Oakwood, Ohio
  • Box Elder Innovations LLC of Corinne, Utah
  • Cornerstone Research Group Inc. of Miamisburg, Ohio
  • Elementum 3D Inc. of Erie, Colorado
  • Gloyer-Taylor Laboratories LLC of Tullahoma, Tennessee
  • IN Space LLC of West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Orbital Sciences Corporation (Northrop Grumman Space Systems Inc.) of Dulles, Virginia
  • pH Matter LLC of Columbus, Ohio
  • Phase Four Inc. of El Segundo, California
  • Sensuron LLC of Austin, Texas
  • Space Systems Loral Inc. (Maxar Technologies) of Palo Alto, California
  • Stellar Exploration Inc. of San Luis Obispo, California

Jim Reuter, the associate administrator for NASA’s STMD, who made the selections, said: “Space technology development doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

“Whether companies are pursuing space ventures of their own or maturing cutting-edge systems to one day offer a new service to NASA, the agency is dedicated to helping bring new capabilities to market for our mutual benefit”.

The space industry has never been so popular. In October, Bank of America said in a new research note that it expects the industry to grow by more than $ 1 trillion in the next decade.

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