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NASA Announces Two Game-Changing Space Technology Projects

Sept. 16, 2011

David E. Steitz 
Headquarters, Washington      

RELEASE: 11-310


WASHINGTON -- NASA has selected two game-changing space technology 
projects for development. The selections are part of the agency's 
efforts to pursue revolutionary technology required for future 
missions, while proving the capabilities and lowering the cost of 
government and commercial space activities. 

"NASA's Game Changing Technology Development program uses a rolling 
selection process to mature new, potentially transformative 
technologies from low to moderate technology readiness levels -- from 
the edge of reality to a test article ready for the rigors of the 
lab," said Space Technology Director Michael Gazarik at NASA 
Headquarters in Washington. "These two new projects are just the 
beginning. Space Technology is making investments in critical 
technology areas that will enable NASA's future missions, while 
benefiting the American aerospace community." 

The "Ride the Light" concept seeks to provide external power on demand 
for aerospace vehicles and other applications. The concept uses 
beamed power and propulsion produced by commercially available power 
sources such as lasers and microwave energy. The project will attempt 
to develop a low-cost, modular power beaming capability and explore 
multiple technologies to function as receiving elements of the beamed 

This combination of technologies could be applied to space propulsion, 
performance and endurance of unpiloted aerial vehicles or 
ground-to-ground power beaming applications. Development of such 
capabilities fulfills NASA's strategic goal of developing high payoff 
technology and enabling missions otherwise unachievable with today's 

NASA has awarded approximately $3 million for concept studies to 
multiple companies during this first phase of the Ride the Light 
project. Systems engineering and analysis during this first phase of 
the Ride the Light project will be done by Teledyne Brown Engineering 
in Huntsville, Ala.; Aerojet in Redmond, Wash.; ATK in Ronkonkoma, 
N.Y.; Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; NASA's Jet Propulsion 
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.; and Teledyne Scientific, Boeing, and 
the Aerospace Corp., all located in Los Angeles. Following these 
studies, NASA expects to make an implementation decision in 2013. 

NASA also has selected Amprius Inc. of Menlo Park, Calif., to pursue 
development of a prototype battery that could be used for future 
agency missions. Amprius is teaming with JPL and NASA's Glenn 
Research Center in Cleveland on the project, with an estimated value 
of $710,000 for one year of development. 

The Amprius project will focus on the material optimization of silicon 
anodes and electrolyte formulation to meet the agency's 
low-temperature energy requirements. Amprius developed a unique 
ultra-high capacity silicon anode for lithium ion batteries that will 
enable NASA to dramatically improve the specific energy of mission 
critical rechargeable batteries. NASA requirements are unique because 
of the extremely low temperatures encountered in space. 

These awards are being made through NASA's Game Changing Development 
Program. For more information about the program and the agency's 
Space Technology Program, visit: 



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