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July 29, 2023

NASA Broadens Industry Partnerships

Space Agency Readies for Lunar and Extraplanetary Explorations

NASA has selected 11 U.S. companies to develop technologies germane to long-term space and lunar exploration. The technologies under development—which range from lunar surface power systems to tools for extra-atmospheric 3D printing—stand to collectively expand the U.S. domestic industrial sector’s ability to facilitate a sustained human lunar presence through NASA’s Artemis program and similarly ambitious government and commercial missions.

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Memories of NASA’s X-57

A Lesson for Those Inclined to Learn

Among the most visited locales at EAA’s AirVenture 2023 is the NASA pavilion. Often a queue of event attendees forms outside the venue, each waiting patiently to enter therein—not only because the space is well air-conditioned, but because it houses a preview of aerospace’s future. Near the pavilion’s center sits a small table atop which a model of a blue-and-white aircraft is displayed. Subject model depicts NASA’s X-57, an unusual high-wing monoplane bristling with underwing pods and fitted with sizable wingtip fixtures—an aircraft that could have been built but wasn’t.  

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Blue Origin Technology To Produce Solar-Cells from Lunar Regolith

Moondust in the Wind

Blue Origin—the space-launch subsidiary of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’s business empire—has been awarded a $35-million NASA Tipping Point partnership by dint of which the Kent, Washington-based aerospace concern will further the development of its Blue Alchemist initiative. Announced in February 2023, Blue Origin’s Blue Alchemist is a nascent, end-to-end, scalable, autonomous solution by which solar-cells are produced from silicates derived of lunar regolith—which is to say, the fine dust and crushed rock with which the moon’s surface is replete.

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