Inflatable Component Maker Wins Technology Competition

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Space Ground Amalgam LLC, a company seeking to develop inflatable spacecraft components, took first place in the 2012 NewSpace Business Plan Competition, which seeks to help startup space firms create potentially game-changing technologies.

The Montana-based company beat out nine other finalists for the $100,000 prize, which was funded by NASA. The award was announced July 28 at the NewSpace 2012 conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

Space Ground Amalgam builds inflatable parts — such as reflectors, booms and solar arrays — that could decrease satellites’ size and weight while helping them meet high bandwidth demands, company officials said.

The firm hopes to help outfit spacecraft owned by NASA, the military, industry and academia. Space Ground Amalgam is seeking a total of $3.5 million in financing, officials said.

Nevada-based Digital Solid State Propulsion LLC, which is working on so-called green propellants that can be ignited and shut down using only electrical power, won the $10,000 second prize.

Terapio Corp. of Texas received an honorable mention for its plan to devise bioengineered pharmaceuticals that could help mitigate the effects of radiation exposure in space.

“All three of the winners provide key disruptive technologies and are outstanding candidates for institutional funding,” Thomas Atchison, one of five competition judges and chairman of the Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation, said in a statement. “These companies, their products, technologies and services will bring down the barriers to commercial activity in space.”

This year’s prize represents a big monetary step up from last year, when the top award of $25,000 went to Altius Space Machines for its so-called Sticky Boom technology, which could make space docking and rendezvous operations easier.