Nasa has selected Space Systems/Loral (SSL) to collaborate on the development of two ‘tipping point’ spacecraft technologies for use in future missions.

As part of the two public-private partnerships, Nasa and SSL will work together on the In-Space Xenon Transfer for Satellite, Servicing and Exploration Vehicle Replenishment and Life Extension project.

The project is expected to pave way for new possibilities for on-orbit satellite servicing and refueling by demonstrating the reliability of fuel transfer in space.

The partners will also work on the development of a High Efficiency 6kW Dual Mode Electric Propulsion Engine for Broad Mission Applications technology.

Development will utilise SSL’s expertise in electric propulsion to develop a highly flexible, dual-mode power processing unit capable of providing variable voltage.

“Development will utilise SSL’s expertise in electric propulsion to develop a highly flexible, dual-mode power processing unit capable of providing variable voltage.”

The technology is intended to increase overall mission efficiency and provide greater power, flexibility, and velocity for future missions, and bolster the development of commercial space capabilities.

Nasa considers a technology as tipping point when it is likely to have a commercial space application, and improve the liklihood of bringing the technology to market.

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SSL Government Systems president Richard White said: “Powerful and cost-effective propulsion systems and reuse of assets already on-orbit will ultimately help build a better world and propel humanity’s exploration of space.”

SSL previously partnered with Nasa on another ‘tipping point’ mission known as Dragonfly to enable on-orbit robotic satellite assembly.

The company also conducted a study for Nasa for a module that will offer high-power electric propulsion and control for the agency’s Lunar Orbital Gateway concept.