NASA is partnering with 17 US space companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, to develop new tech ‘for the moon and beyond’

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. John Locher/AP and Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, and startup Rocket Lab are among 17 companies partnering with NASA to develop new technologies for space missions to “the moon and beyond.”
  • NASA announced 20 partnerships total on Monday, all of which are unfunded. The chosen space companies will gain access to NASA’s testing facilities and expertise.
  • “Space technology development doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Jim Reuter, the associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said.
  • The space industry is booming, and expected to grow by more than $1 trillion in the next 10 years.

NASA has picked 17 US companies, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, to develop new tech for space missions, it announced Monday.

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 Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin to smaller startups such as Rocket Lab.

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 other space companies are:

  • 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,” he said.

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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