Blue Origin And SpaceX Win The Largest Awards Of NASA’s “Tipping Point”

Sundar Pichai - Oct 08, 2019


Blue Origin And SpaceX Win The Largest Awards Of NASA’s “Tipping Point”

Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX respectively received $10 million and $3 million from NASA.

As NASA is making attempts to facilitate the exploration plan, the agency has awarded more than $40 million to 14 American companies who will help bring its technologies to market. Jeff Bezos-owned Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX received the largest bounties with $10 million and $3 million, respectively. 

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NASA has awarded more than $40 million to 14 American companies to realize the "Tipping Point" plan

The “Tipping Point” contract series, of which Blue Origin and SpaceX are parts, address a variety of technology areas ranging from cryogenic propellant production to advanced avionics. With these contracts, NASA aims to reinforce its current Moon to Mars exploration approach, landing astronauts on the Moon by 2024. 

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Tipping Point Release Bo New Shepard M9 Pad
NASA aims to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024

As said, the series’ biggest award worth $10 million went to Blue Origin, the privately funded aerospace company under the control of Jeff Bezos. The manufacturer has given a ground demonstration of technology liquefying and storing oxygen and hydrogen. Such initiative eventually enables the large-scale production of rocket and spacecraft propellant on the Moon, according to NASA. In particular, the machine converts water ice into liquid oxygen, as well as hydrogen used to sustain lunar landers. 

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Blue Origin's machine converts water ice into liquid oxygen, as well as hydrogen used to sustain lunar landers

SpaceX, in the meantime, develops certain coupler prototypes (also called nozzles) to refuel spacecraft like its Starship vehicle. The company has received a $3 million investment from NASA and will join with the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in this scheme. NASA expected such a tool for large-scale in-space propellant transfer could assist its efforts to sustainably explore the Moon and Mars. 

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SpaceX is developing certain coupler prototypes (also called nozzles) to refuel spacecraft

Besides SpaceX, there’re three other firms working on satellite propulsion technologies. Accion Systems is developing icon electrospray thrusters which will then be placed on NASA’s MarCO CubeSats, requiring less power and mass. CU Aerospace introduces two propulsion systems for a CubeSat flight, while ExoTerra Resource is making a solar-powered propulsion system with a high-impulse current. 

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