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NASA to Build 'Virtual' Institute for Small Space Systems

Oct 24, 2016 05:02 AM EDT

NASA recently announced its Small Spacecraft Systems Virtual Institute, another one of its projects to help the small spacecraft industry at the Ames Research Center in California.

The Small Spacecraft Systems Virtual Institute will be instrumental in the small spacecraft community. It will help promote new technologies and it will strategically identify potential and new opportunities. Also, this will be a vital channel for the small spacecraft industry to showcase their capabilities and will also benefit the academe and other concerned government agencies.

 "NASA sees enormous benefits from investing in research and technology development in small spacecraft systems, such as propulsion, that will be essential in advancing the commercial space sector," Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) said in a press release.

"Over the past several years, NASA has increased the generation of new, innovative applications of small spacecraft, with several mission directorates using small spacecraft to meet their goals," Jurczyk added.

NASA has always been very supportive of the development of small spacecraft technologies, recognizing the potentially significant contribution and capabilities of small spacecraft in space explorations.

The Space Technology Mission Directorate already established Small Spacecraft Technology program in the year 2011. Together with STMD, the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) are maximizing the potential of small spacecraft in scientific purposes both in Earth and space setting. The spacecraft are used in studying microgravity and even in some robotics study.

The newest virtual institute will be used together with STMD's Cube Quest Challenge and CubeSat Launch Initiative (CLSI). This will encourage companies, students and experts to use small spacecraft for space explorations.

"The S3VI will provide the first one-stop shop for technical knowledge in the rapidly burgeoning small spacecraft technology fields," Jay Bookbinder, director of programs and projects at NASA Ames Research Center said in a statement. "This will result in more efficient development efforts, and enable smaller vendors to compete more effectively in this market," Bookbinder added.

Currently, there are several small spacecraft that are being used and they range from an ounce up to 400 pounds.


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