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NASA has approved nine organizations to perform commercial flight tests using technologies that would further advance the agency’s goals of addressing mission needs for both the agency and the commercial space industry.

The nine, consisting of five academic institutions and four private entities, were selected as part of the 2022 TechFlights solicitations and were chosen for their potential to revolutionize the commercial space industry. 

Under the NASA deals, the organizations will develop orbital commercial payload-hosting platforms and suborbital vehicles, such as high-altitude balloons, rocket-powered systems and vehicles that follow parabolic flight profiles.

The arrangement would allow the organizations to help the U.S. government and its partners reduce costs and risks associated with spacecraft and support longer missions, such as lunar and martian flights.

The contract awards are worth $6.1 million, NASA said.

According to Walt Engelund, deputy associate administrator for programs at NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the tech investment will help mature technologies for space exploration and other key missions and help the space industry thrive.

The awardees – New Hampshire-based Creare,  Massachusetts’ Giner, Arizona-based Paragon Space Development Corp., Washington, D.C.’s Rhea Space Activity, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, Purdue University, San Diego State University, University of Louisville and Harvard University – will also develop and test several technologies, such as liquid propellant transfer systems, fuel cell energy storage devices, imaging and particle detection for wildfire management, liquid condensation capturing and separation, navigation systems, landing systems and human performance monitoring.