Aurora wins 'scalable' vehicle grant

Aurora Flight Systems was awarded a US government grant to study 'cluster' spacecraft systems, including developing software and protocols for a hypothetical system.

"Such an architecture enhances the adaptability and survivability of space systems, while also shortening development timelines and reducing the barrier-to-entry for participation in the national security space industry," said the NASA award notification.

The grant, awarded by Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA's Ames Research Center, will involve testing on the ground and aboard the International Space Station.

Cluster, or 'fractionated' space systems, involve using a number of small, relatively simple spacecraft to accomplish what would otherwise be done by a large and complicated vehicle.

"Fractionation is a disruptive technology that will completely change the way spacecraft systems are developed in the future," stated Chief Scientist and Vice President of Research and Development, Javier de Luis. "By providing services to all spacecraft in a cluster, we will significantly lower the barriers to entry for new spacecraft developers, which hopefully will lead to rapid transition of new technology into space-based military and commercial systems."

Source: Flight International