A Pasadena-based robotics and space technologies company has been awarded an $8.7 million NASA contract to develop a new robotic arm to be used on the Moon, in orbit, and on Earth, NASA announced Wednesday.
SSL Robotics was among 14 U.S. companies to receive a total of about $370 million in contracts under NASA’s fifth round of “Tipping Point” solicitations, which involve “milestone-based,” fixed-price contracts of up to five years in length, the space agency said in a written statement.
SSL’s project will be to “Develop a lighter and less expensive robotic arm for lunar surface applications, in-orbit servicing, and terrestrial defense applications,” according to the statement.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine touted the contracts as examples of partnerships between the public and private sectors to advance science.
“NASA’s significant investment in innovative technology demonstrations, led by small and large U.S. businesses across nine states, will expand what is possible in space and on the lunar surface,” he said. “Together, NASA and industry are building up an array of mission-ready capabilities to support a sustainable presence on the Moon and future human missions to Mars.”
NASA Associate Administrator for Space Technology Jim Reuter said the arrangement was mutually beneficial.
The contracts represent the largest round of Tipping Point proposals funded yet, both by the number of companies and total award value, according to Reuter.
“We are excited to see our investments and collaborative partnerships bring about new technologies for the Moon and beyond while also benefiting the commercial sector,” he said.
More information, including a list of all the recently awarded contracts, is available online at nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/solicitations/tipping_points/2020_selections.