Washington DC – NASA, in attempt to accelerate its journey to Mars, has selected 254 proposals from small companies and 39 research organizations to develop new technologies for the purpose. The proposals are aimed at providing innovative technologies to help engineers make Mars colonization possible.
Recently, NASA, along with experts from the aerospace industry, pitched some of the ideas to the Congress as well.
The conference gave NASA and its team of small businesses, a chance to clarify the importance of their work and show the progress made so far. Chief technologist, David Miller, said: “We are pioneering space, the way we look at it, mankind is looking out to stay and Mars looks like the place to move.”
The shortlisted proposals from small businesses, “demonstrate the ingenuity and creativity of America’s small businesses” as per Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator at NASA’s STMD. He also noted that: “enabling NASA’s future missions, including human exploration of Mars, requires broad participation and the SBIR and STTR programs ensure the agency is benefiting from the passionate and determined minds of the private sector.”
Further short listings, would lead to the development of ideas, leading to potential contracts, which can total to around $47.7 million. Currently, NASA is targeting proposals that could help with space transportation, protection of astronauts in space and keep spacecrafts functional. Apart from the red planet, NASA has also become increasingly focused on asteroids.
The short listed proposals also contain technologies that can help with landing, traversing and sampling of asteroids. Some of the proposals have ambitious plans for exploration of planets outside the solar system and even study the history of the universe.
NASA’s selection criteria included technical merit, feasibility, experience, qualifications and facilities. Additionally, the ideas of the proposals were also analyzed for the effectiveness of the plan and potential for commercialization.
At the meeting with the congress, Mr. Jurczyk, also revealed plans for an automated 3D printer being sent to the red planet, which would construct complex structures from the Martian soil.