NASA has selected five new research proposals to understand the
effective drivers of investments in the global space economy,
encouraging non-traditional companies, as well as traditional aerospace
companies, to look beyond satellites for new opportunities in commercial
space development.

“Our space technology work is focused on
providing new capabilities for robotic and human exploration of the
solar system, but we are also here to help enable new commercial markets
or enterprises,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for the
Space Technology Mission Directorate at NASA. “The results of these
studies provide insights into the potential economic impacts of new
space-based capabilities and applications which in turn helps guide our
investments in technology development.”

five studies selected this year will cover topics ranging from in-space
manufacturing in low-Earth orbit (LEO) to the economics of resources
obtained from the Moon to support a wide range of government and
commercial enterprises.

  • Vision Foresight Strategy LLC
    (Honolulu) offers a comprehensive report on the risks, vulnerabilities,
    and consequences of severe space weather events as well as an
    assessment model for forecasting future vulnerabilities and damage
    estimates in their proposal: “A Rigorous Foresight Approach to
    Understanding and Modeling the Societal and Economic Impacts of Severe
    Space Weather.” The proposed project offers to provide a better
    understanding of the societal and economic impacts of space weather at
    the global and country level and over time.
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s
    (Cambridge, Massachusetts) proposal “Development of a Commercial Space
    Technology Roadmap,” offers a companion to existing NASA space
    technology roadmaps by focusing on technology development efforts and
    needs from the perspective of commercial economic development. The
    identification of key technology gaps and their relationship to proposed
    enterprises and economic development as well as to other NASA
    objectives, such as exploration and scientific investigation, will help
    inform NASA where the agency can facilitate technology development for
    the benefit of commercial enterprises, as well as identify areas where
    commercial and government interests are well-aligned.
  • Planetary Resource Engineering LLC
    (Canterbury, New Hampshire) will focus on the quantitative evaluation
    of scenarios to estimate the effect of both supply and demand side
    stimulation through public-private partnerships. A robust, private
    sector, commercial lunar ecosystem could provision propellant, life
    support consumables and other materials to NASA as one among many
    customers. “Public-Private Partnerships Framework for Multi-Commodity
    Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization” will draw upon comparisons to
    terrestrial mining activities, where byproducts often generate more
    operating profit than a primary commodity produced. A secondary
    objective of the proposed work will examine lunar resource byproduct
    scenarios that may deliver high economic benefits for relatively low
    incremental costs.
  • The Colorado School of Mines
    (Golden, Colorado) proposal focuses on “21st Century Trends in
    Space-Based Solar Power Generation and Storage.” This study will
    determine the feasibility of using space-based solar power to meet
    near-term commercial energy demands for mining and resource extraction
    in space and on Earth. The ability to mine materials in space could be
    instrumental in the development of a thriving space economy. Resources
    from asteroids, the Moon, and other planetary bodies in space can
    support NASA’s long-term goals for human space exploration and science
    discovery by offering consumables for human space flight enterprises,
    propellants and refueling opportunities, and energy for a variety of
    uses. The private sector and commercial enterprises are likely to be
    major partners in this endeavor.
  • The University of Illinois, Urbana
    (Urbana, Illinois) offers “An Integrated Framework and Tool for
    Effective Participation of Commercial Enterprise in Space Development.”
    This proposal develops a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods
    to identify the space development architectures that are beneficial and
    commercial-friendly, and analyze their synergistic effects with other
    government incentives. Selecting the proper architecture is the most
    important decision in ensuring effective and sustainable space
    exploration and development. The results from this work will offer
    guidance to create an environment that attracts beneficial and effective
    contributions from commercial players and investors.

23 proposals submitted to this year’s NASA Research Announcement reflect
the interest of an increasingly sophisticated and capable
entrepreneurial space community that recognizes the diversity of new
opportunities beyond Earth for commercial development,” said L.K.
Kubendran, portfolio executive for the Commercial Partnerships at NASA.
“The studies we chose will help us understand the dynamics and potential
of future commercial space developments, both in partnership with the
government, and as privately funded ventures, as well as the potential
economic impacts from space weather events that can affect the global

NASA selected these proposals through a competitive NASA Research Announcement and a comprehensive review process.

For more information about the Emerging Space Grants, visit: