Artist's illustration using binary numbers. Photo Credit: DARPA

Eight teams from industry, universities and NASA centers have been selected to develop new technology concepts, such as advanced solar power and optical communications, for future NASA missions.

NASA plans to select up to five of the concepts for Space Technology 6 (ST6), the next New Millennium Program project, which will flight-test the new technology concepts in 2003 and 2004. The teams, selected by NASA's New Millennium Program, will study the options during a six-month phase for defining the technology concepts.

"The program taps into the nation's best industrial and academic technology resources," said Dr. Fuk Li, program manager of the New Millennium Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The program's objective is to validate technologies that are required for future science missions in space, not in a laboratory on Earth. ST6 also is the first time we are validating technology items as stand-alone subsystems. This set of technologies will bring broad benefits to NASA," said Li.

Each of the eight teams' selected technologies fall into specific space technology capability areas deemed important by NASA for its future space science missions. The technologies and teams are:

-- Lightweight High-Voltage Stretched-Lens Concentrator Solar Array Experiment (provided by AEC-Able Engineering Company, Inc., Goleta, Calif.)

-- Dual Reflector Telescope Experiment (provided by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Missile and Space Operations, Palo Alto, Calif.)

-- Ultra-Low Power Serial Bus (provided by Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.)

-- Low-Power Avionics Sensor Suite (provided by The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., Cambridge, Mass.)

-- Acquisition, Tracking, and Pointing for Space-to-Space Interplanetary Optical Communications (provided by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colo.)

-- Flight Validation of Autonomous Rendezvous in Low-Earth Orbit (provided by Scientific Systems Company, Inc., Woburn, Mass.)

-- Autonomous Sciencecraft Constellation (provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.)

-- Continuously Operating Helium Dilution Cooler for Space Applications (provided by NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.)

Between February and August 2001, the eight teams will independently demonstrate how their proposed technologies will be ready for flight validation. Each will also be responsible for delivering a study report that will include technology-validation experiment descriptions, rationale for flight validation, data, and partnering relationships. Then an independent review board at NASA will evaluate the reports and select the technology concepts that will fly in ST6.

Further information on the New Millennium Program is available at .

The New Millennium Program was created in 1994 to identify, develop and flight-validate advanced technologies that can lower costs and enable critical performance of science missions in the 21st century. The program is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Earth Science and Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.

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Carolina Martinez