TETHERS UNLIMITED, INC WINS NASA CONTRACTS TO DEVELOP “REVOLUTIONARY” SPACE
TETHER TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
Lynnwood, Wash. – May 16, 2003
Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) announced today that NASA has selected it for award of two contracts totaling over $2M to develop key technologies for TUI’s Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic-Reboost (MXER) Tether System, a revolutionary space transportation system that will dramatically lower the cost of launching space missions.
TUI’s MXER Tether System will deploy a 100 kilometer long cable in orbit around the Earth. This cable will rotate like a giant sling, swinging down and picking up spacecraft launched into low orbits and then tossing them to higher orbits or even tossing them to other planets. “The MXER Tether System will serve as a fully-reusable transportation hub in orbit, like a ‘space railroad’,” said TUI’s President, CEO, & Chief Scientist, Dr. Robert P. Hoyt. By eliminating the need to launch an upper-stage rocket along with each satellite, the MXER Tether System will enable satellites to be launched on smaller, less expensive rockets and drop the propulsion costs for space missions by a factor of ten or more.
NASA has announced that it will award TUI two contracts as a part of its new In-Space Propulsion Technology Program. Under the first contract, TUI will work with scientists at NASA, the Air Force Space Command, the University of Michigan, and Marshall Interplanetary be to enhance and validate TUI’s high-fidelity computer simulation tool, TetherSim™, to enable detailed studies of the MXER Tether concept. Under the second contract, TUI will continue development of its patented Hoytether™, a failsafe, multiline tether structure able to survive for many years in the orbital space debris environment. “It’s sort-of like a giant fish-net stocking in space, only it’s incredibly strong, and it can withstand many years of bombardment by orbital debris,” said Dr. Hoyt. The contracts initially be 1-year awards for a total of $850K, with second-year options that will bring the total awards to over $2.1M.
TUI is a research and development company based in Lynnwood, Washington. Its Tethers Unlimited Division (www.Tethers.com) develops advanced space technologies for NASA, DoD, and commercial customers. TUI's ScienceOps Division (www.ScienceOps.com) provides scientific computing services, including development, validation, and optimization of scientific software and algorithms.