in the works

Aerospace company tapped for mission for new spacewalk, moonwalk system

NASA has issued another grant to Collins Aerospace to design the future of spacewalks and moonwalks. Image via NASA

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Collins Aerospace has been selected by NASA to develop a spacewalking system for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

The award, which is the second under NASA’s Exploration EVA Services contract, has a base value of $97.2 million, per a Dec. 8 news release from NASA. The company has until January 2024 "to complete a critical design review and demonstrate use of the suit on Earth in a simulated space environment," according to NASA, which will then decide the option to extend the contract for testing to be conducted by April 2026.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston manages the spacesuit contract. Collins Aerospace has had a presence in Houston for 40 years, and recently cut the ribbon on a $30 million facility near the JSC.

“We look forward to obtaining another much-needed service under our contract,” says Lara Kearney, manager of the Extravehicular Activity and Human Surface Mobility Program at JSC, in the release. “By working with industry, NASA is able to continue its over 22-year legacy of maintaining a presence in low-Earth orbit.”

The current system was designed decades ago and has been used during previous space shuttle and space station missions. Collins Aerospace will work with Houston-based Axiom Space on this project, which was initially announced this summer.

"Both vendors will continue to compete for future task orders which include recurring services for station spacewalks and moonwalks beyond Artemis III," the news release reads.

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Building Houston

 
 

With Clutch, connecting brands with creators has never been easier and more inclusive. Photo courtesy of Clutch

An app that originally launched on Houston college campuses has announced it's now live nationwide.

Clutch founders Madison Long and Simone May set out to make it easier for the younger generation to earn money with their skill sets. After launching a beta at local universities last fall, Clutch's digital marketplace is now live for others to join in.

The platform connects brands to its network of creators for reliable and authentic work — everything from social media management, video creation, video editing, content creation, graphic design projects, and more. With weekly payments to creators and an inclusive platform for users on both sides of the equation, Clutch aims to make digital collaboration easier and more reliable for everyone.

“We’re thrilled to bring our product to market to make sustainable, authentic lifestyles available to everyone through the creator economy," says May, CTO and co-founder of Clutch. "We’re honored to be part of the thriving innovation community here in Houston and get to bring more on-your-own-terms work opportunities to all creators and businesses through our platform.”

In its beta, Clutch facilitated collaborations for over 200 student creators and 50 brands — such as DIGITS and nama. The company is founded with a mission of "democratizing access to information and technology and elevating the next generation for all people," according to a news release from Clutch. In the beta, 75 percent of the creators were people of color and around half of the businesses were owned by women and people of color.

“As a Clutch Creator, I set my own pricing, schedule and services when collaborating on projects for brands,” says Cathy Syfert, a creator through Clutch. “Clutch Creators embrace the benefits of being a brand ambassador as we create content about the products we love, but do it on behalf of the brands to help the brands grow authentically."

The newly launched product has the following features:

  • Creator profile, where users can share their services, pricing, and skills and review inquiries from brands.
  • Curated matching from the Clutch admin team.
  • Collab initiation, where users can accept or reject incoming collab requests with brands.
  • Collab management — communication, timing, review cycles — all within the platform.
  • In-app payments with a weekly amount selected by the creators themselves.
  • Seamless cancellation for both brands and creators.
Clutch raised $1.2 million in seed funding from Precursor Ventures, Capital Factory, HearstLab, and more. Clutch was originally founded as Campus Concierge in 2021 and has gone through the DivInc Houston program at the Ion.

Madison Long, left, and Simone May co-founded Clutch. Photo courtesy of Clutch

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