NASA has awarded Aurora Flight Sciences a contract to develop Small Probes for Orbital Return of Experiments (SPORE). Aurora Flight Sciences has teamed with Georgia Institute of Technology to develop SPORE within the NASA Small Business Technology Transfer program. The SPORE flight system architecture will utilize a modular design approach to provide low-cost on-orbit operation and recovery of small payloads.
The Phase 1 investigation will evaluate a scalable flight system architecture consisting of a service module for on-orbit operations and deorbit maneuvering, and an entry vehicle to perform atmospheric entry, descent and landing. SPORE will provide a platform for biological science investigations, materials science, and thermal protection system flight experiments. The SPORE design can be launched as a primary or secondary payload into low-Earth orbit or geosynchronous transfer orbit, conduct up to one month of orb ital operations, and perform Earth return.
The concept study will also investigate SPORE flight system deployment from the International Space Station.