NASA told it is going to establish a virtual institute in order to enhance the field of small spacecraft systems at its Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley early in 2017.
Benefitting the growing small spacecraft community, promoting innovation, analyzing emerging technology opportunities and providing profitable medium of communication about small spacecraft systems with industry, academia, and other government agencies, will be the main tasks of the Small Spacecraft Systems Virtual Institute (S3VI), US space agency said in a statement on October 21.
“The S3VI will provide the first one-stop shop for technical knowledge in the rapidly burgeoning small spacecraft technology fields,” said Jay Bookbinder, Director of Programmes and Projects at Ames. A small spacecraft size can range starting from the size of a postage-stamp upto the size of a refrigerator, depending on the mission objective.
“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,” said Steve Jurczyk, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).
“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 said.
A range of activities require the use of small spacecraft. These include earth and space science measurements to help understand our environment and examination of microgravity effects on organisms for safe exploration of space. “This (the institute) will result in more efficient development efforts, and enable smaller vendors to compete more effectively in this market,” Bookbinder added.