The focus of the Phase 2 effort is to expand the Intelligent Machine Learning (IML) approach taken in Phase 1 to develop a Human-Centered Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA). IML is an approach that moves the development of machine learning models away from engineers and puts the development of the model in the hands of the end-user. A Human-Centered IVA is focused on continuously improving the Machine Learning (ML) models while also providing effective communication between the human crewmembers and the IVA. Human-centered IVA is a perspective on artificial intelligence and ML that algorithms must be designed with awareness of being part of a larger system that includes end-users. This approach allows the IVA to incorporate the knowledge, insight, and feedback of the end-users allowing for tuning and refinement of the ML models. The Human-centered IVA will assist crewmembers in various tasks e.g., crew scheduling, procedure creation, and anomaly detection and resolution during a long-duration mission. ADAPT's Human-Centered IVA will provide the computationally heavy-lifting while still receiving inputs and insights from the crewmembers. This allows for the expansion of processes and information to a larger scale without compromising data integrity or mission success due to a lack of ground assistance.
To provide crewmembers with a Human-Centered IVA this effort leverages the supervised learning algorithms Decision Tree, Random Forest, Ada Boost, Gradient Boost, Extreme Gradient Boost, Categorical Boost, and Associative Rule Models which were shown in Phase I to be succesful within an IML approach. Additionally, this phase will focus on providing an explainable interface that allows the end-user to query the IVA for the reason behind its prediction. This will be accomplished using an interactive visualization Graphical User Interface.
We expect the Human-centered Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) approach to improving model predictions throughout all phases of a long-duration mission will be of interest to several groups within NASA. The ARTEMIS program for example could make use of IVAs to assist the crew in similar scenarios used during the development. Additionally, this work will be of interest to the EVA Exploration Office, the EVA Strategic Planning and Architecture group, and the Exploration Mission Planning Office.
The proposed cognitive architecture will benefit several TRACLabs commercial customers. We expect the ability of end-users to direct the adaptation of the system will be of interest. For example, Baker Hughes has already expressed interest in licensing some of the new capabilities being developed in previous cognitive agent efforts, particularly the ontology and anomaly management aspects.
Manufacturing grazing incidence x-ray mirrors costs between $4 to $6 million per square meter of optical surface area. To reduce the cost of making x-ray mirrors, NASA is seeking manufacturing solutions to aid in cost reduction factors of 5 to 50 times. One cost driver is the mandrel-based polishing process that impacts the inside surface of an X-ray mirror shell. Current shells are created through a replication process utilizing an aluminum mandrel. OptiPro is proposing to enhance process solutions to reduce costs required for polishing both the mandrel and the outside shell surface by maintaining constant force during polishing, developing new polishing tools, and optimizing the polishing algorithm. The target platform for these improvements will be on an OptiPro's polishing platform. These improvements will be directly applicable to the polishing being done at Marshall Space Flight Center on various equipment including OptiPro's UltraForm Finishing platform.
OptiPro's Phase II will focus on prototyping hardware and software solutions to provide a cost effective deterministic solution when combined with an optimized polishing process. A rotisserie part A-Axis and a new dual tool polishing head will be updated to an existing bridge polishing platform. A force feedback system will be prototyped and integrated into a polisher to provide in-situ adjustments during polishing. Prototype polishing tools will be further refined and optimized. The polishing algorithms are being enhanced for more efficient polishing and achieving tighter tolerances through improvements to correction algorithms and new adaptive learning routines. The software will be upgraded to incorporate all of these changes. All innovations will be tested on a demonstrator mandrel and processing will be refined to improve surface quality as efficiently as possible. The results of this Phase II will enhance fabrication at MSFC and become commercially available solutions at OptiPro.
The proposed system will benefit all projects using x-ray shells and mandrels, both cylindrical and segments that fit within the working envelope that the proposed hardware is installed on. Missions including Lynx and the IR/O/UV space telescope would be among those that would benefit from the technology being developed. These improvements will be applicable to polishing being done at Marshall Space Flight Center on various equipment including OptiPro's UltraForm Finishing platform and polishing being done at Goddard Space Flight Center.
The proposed polishing system and hardware improvements would benefit all types of part geometries including the following:
The processes being developed to work with nickel will provide ground work for working on other metal materials, including aluminum.
Metis Technology Solutions proposes to further mature its online, bi-directional, and robust collaborative SLAM and sensor co-registration technology known as Astrobee Localization and Collaborative Multi-layered Mapping (A-LCMM). The technology allows any Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA) robot to collect data about its surrounding environment and share it with other robots via a central server to perform localization and mapping tasks. Sensors equipped to each IVA robot can be co-registered and fused with a collaboratively generated physical map of an environment which is stored on a central server. This fused multi-layered map of the environment consists of layers in which individual sensor data is registered with the physical map of the environment. The system is sensor and camera agnostic, meaning that any sensor and camera can be ingested by the system. This system not only eliminates the need for a ground team to manually update Astrobee maps, but also enables autonomous state assessment operations in space habitats which fills technical gaps identified in the Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking (ISAAC) project. Developed hardware prototypes are to be used for validation in real-world environments by integrating the hardware and the software components of the system together. Beyond NASA, applications outside of Astrobee are not only feasible, but desirable. Improvements to the current state-of-the-art for collaborative SLAM not only impact Astrobee, but any system that uses multiple robots or SLAM in general. With the recent emergence of commercial space stations, autonomous cars, augmented reality (AR), and autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), there are many opportunities in which the technology can penetrate the market and make a ground breaking difference in the world of robot autonomy for years to come.
Current IVA robot programs such as Astrobee have the potential to directly benefit from this technology. IVA robots must be able to perform autonomous state assessment activities such as surveillance, reconnaissance, and leak identification which future orbiting facilities such as Lunar Gateway will require. The developed technology will allow for Astrobee to advance its localization and mapping capabilities as well as provide real-time sensor data of the environment from multiple robots simultaneously.
Commercial space habitats like Axiom Station would directly benefit from this technology. IVA robots will play a critical role in automating tasks onboard commercial space habitats. With the ability to perform autonomous state assessment, surveillance, and reconnaissance of a space habitat, it significantly reduces the required human and financial resources required to maintain a space station.
Multi-disciplinary optimization has emerged as a key technology required to make increasingly more sophisticated electric and hybrid-electric aircraft that require advanced CONOPS such as urban air mobility and cargo delivery. Current MDO design results may take into account many disciplines in the design resulting in an optimized aircraft, only to discover controller limitations post-aircraft configuration lock related, resulting in less efficient, less capable and ultimately less safe aircraft.
After decades of designing and flying flight controllers for new and existing types of hybrid and distributed propulsion aircraft, our goal is to get add a controllability component to aircraft multidisciplinary design optimization. Our controllability assessment tools can be used individually or together in an MDO/MDA framework to ensure the airplane is optimized for both aircraft performance and flight control control requirements. We leverage open-source software from OpenMDAO and can import models form OpenVSP and other sources.
New UAM and UAS configurations provided significant advantages and are being pursued by the aerospace industry. Our software allows us to partner with aircraft makers to help develop their aircraft and then provide flight control solutions as a secondary output from our controllability assessment tools.
Far too often, we’ve seen the aircraft OML locked and much later discovered aircraft flight envelope and CONOPS restrictions due to inability to control the aircraft. By co-designing the aircraft and the flight controller, we optimize both simultaneously, resulting in a design that closes for performance, CONOPS, failure conditions, and controllability within a significantly reduced timeline.
RVLT concepts or slight modifications to the current concepts will allow RVLT to provide NASA with additional key critical technical areas to focus on in the future. New concepts can be quickly iterated and evaluated.
AAM can use the controllability tools to understand what closed-loop performance is achievable to be able to form new CONOPS and infrastructure plans.
ARMD can use the controllability assessment tools to optimizing the use of motors, rotors and propulsion system powertrain with respect to controller use and limitations.
UAM and UAS markets have received significant investments on concept aircraft that may not be able to meet the proposed CONOPS or safety requirements. These tools can be used to evaluate designs and pivot into plausible, but inadequate designs. Technical due diligence could use the tools to compare and evaluate concepts for feasibility.
Regher Solar proposes this SBIR project to mature ultrathin silicon (UT-Si) solar cell technology to achieve TRL 7 and quickly transition to TRL 8 followed by injection into both NASA and commercial missions. At present UT-Si cells manufactured by Regher Solar have a 20% Beginning-of-Life (BOL) efficiency which is exactly in between Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenide (CIGS) and Epitaxial Lift Off Inverted Metamorphic (ELO-IMM) thin film solar cells that are currently considered for making flexible solar blankets. With several practically attainable improvements UT-Si solar cells will reach 22% BOL efficiency in 2 years. However, the End-of-Life (EOL) efficiency of UT-Si cells drops substantially when exposed to space radiation making them less attractive for the use in space. If radiation damage is mitigated, UT-Si cells can achieve EOL efficiency of ELO-IMM cells while being as inexpensive as CIGS cells making them the optimum choice for flexible solar arrays among all thin film technologies.
This project will leverage an improved understanding of radiation-induced defects in c-Si that was developed in the last 3 years within the effort to fabricate more radiation hard Si detectors for the Large Hadron Collider. The main proposed innovations include: (1) using defect engineering to passivate radiation induced defects, (2) further reducing solar cell thickness from 20 to 10 microns to improve the effectiveness of passivation, and (3) utilizing active defect elimination methods that can be periodically applied to the solar cells in space.
Phase II of this project will demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed innovations and will conduct comprehensive electron and proton irradiation testing. We will collaborate with blanket manufacturers to package UT-Si solar cells in CICs and blankets and conduct complete qualification to achieve TRL 7. Phase II will also work with development partners to integrate UT-Si cells into ongoing missions and achieve TRL 8.
UT-Si solar cells can be integrated into novel flexible solar array deployment systems to meet NASA solar array specific power (250 W/kg) and stowed volume efficiency (50 kW/m3) goals. At the same time UT-Si solar cells have a potential to also meet NASA goals for the long-term operation in high radiation environment (1 MeV 6e15 e/cm2). Together this will make UT-Si solar cell technology an ideal choice for several NASA projects including LISA solar array, Vertical Lunar Solar Arrays and large scale solar arrays for Solar Electric Propulsion.
The main advantage of UT-Si technology is compatibility with high volume manufacturing and a low manufacturing cost. Production of UT-Si solar cells can be quickly scaled to 100 MW/year to meet the demand of the growing space industry. The example applications include satellite mega constellations and space based solar power that will need tens of MW of affordable space-stable solar cells.
The development and maturation towards space applications of atomic systems are needed to meet NASA’s interest in advancing quantum sensing technologies. Atom interferometers have unmatched precision for in-situ measurements of local gravity acceleration. The Size, Weight, and Power consumption (SWaP) of existing atom interferometers is a major obstacle for employing them in NASA missions. One of the main components of an atom interferometer is an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) system. UHV systems are typically the heaviest components of atom interferometers. A light, compact, and energy-efficient UHV system will be highly beneficial for NASA missions.
Q-Peak is addressing the need for lighter, compact, energy-efficient UHV systems suitable for an atom interferometer. Within a successful Phase I program, Q-Peak experimentally proved the suitability of the Aluminum alloy (AlSi10Mg) as housing material for the UHV chamber. Aluminum alloy (AlSi10Mg) housing is capable of maintaining residual gas pressure well below 5×10-10 Torr. The AlSi10Mg alloy is 30% lighter than stainless steel.
Q-Peak proposes to build a complete UHV chamber suitable for atom interferometry out of the AlSi10Mg alloy. The ability to machine AlSi10Mg using a 3D printing process removes the constraint of traditional manufacturing considerations that can further decrease the SWaP of the UHV system. Special attention will be devoted to the development of an energy-efficient and reliable alkali-atom source.
Keeping track of the actual spacecraft position is a key part of navigation for any spacecraft. Accurate in situ gravimetry based on atom interferometry can be used for satellite-based global gravity field mapping. Atom interferometry is a potential technology to gather the type of data currently produced by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission. Europa Clipper can use an atom interferometer for determining the most likely locations to gain access to subsurface material.
Stable and precise accelerometers and gyroscopes are required for navigation and can be used for ships and planes. They are especially advantageous in situations when a GPS signal is absent and high accuracy is required. Such devices are of great value to the US Navy.
Flight Works is proposing to continue the development and demonstration of a low cost, compact, high performance transfer stage which enables dedicated missions to cislunar and deep space (such as Mars rendezvous) with small launchers like Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne and ABL’s RS-1. More than a stage, the system features a full set of avionics creating a bus with extensive propulsion capabilities. The avionics is based on flight-proven large CubeSat avionics from partner Astro Digital. The high performance is enabled by Flight Works’ micropump-fed propulsion technology matured over the last few years for small spacecraft combined with the high density-specific impulse (Isp) provided by the green monopropellant ASCENT. The green propellant can be stored cold to minimize heating power and a low-power pumped loop can be used to slightly warm the propellant prior to use. The result is a simple, versatile, cost-effective stage with full bus functionality and with performance capabilities similar to that of a traditional bipropellant pressure-fed stage and which can be configured for cislunar and even Mars missions.
Other benefits include scalability; use of green propellants and low-pressure tanks minimizing range safety operations and costs; high thrust for rapid, efficient transfer (compared with electric propulsion systems which have to be launched at higher orbits to avoid low altitude drag and which can require months to reach the targeted orbit while exposing the system to the damaging radiation of the Van Allen belts); minimized size provided by a high performance propulsion system; and attitude control system for long term operations.
A stage providing over 4.3 km/s delta-V to a nanosat payload can be an enabler for many NASA lunar and interplanetary missions. These include missions similar to the NASA Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE), or follow-ons to NASA’s Mars CubeSat missions MarCO-A and -B, and unlike MarCO, could enable Mars Orbit Insertion. It can also be used for NASA LEO and GEO nanosat missions, whether launched as dedicated or as secondary payloads.
Non-NASA applications include commercial and DoD missions requiring high orbital maneuver capabilities. These include dedicated missions on small launch vehicles where additional delta-V is required, as well as commercial space-tug applications, e.g. on Falcon-9 rideshare launches. The stage can also be modified for other applications such as orbital inspectors from LEO to cislunar operations.
As next generation lunar missions and interplanetary human spaceflight grow closer, the ability to assess habitat surface microbial content quickly and accurately has become increasingly significant. Current state of the art technology relies on astronaut swabbing of surfaces and subsequently performing molecular analysis on the samples to determine the microbial burden. To alleviate this burden, Nanohmics Inc., proposes to continue advanced development of an autonomous, fluorescence imaging detector (AFID) for microbial mapping demonstrated during the Phase I program. The key components of the unmanned, aerial, 3D-sensing AFID system are a custom fluorescence detector with excitation sources controlled by embedded image acquisition and processing that uses spectral fingerprints and machine learning to differentiate between bacteria, fungi, and other organic material. The goal of the Phase II program will be design, optimization, and performance demonstration of the AFID system ability to generate a microorganism map of the total bioburden on simulated habitat surfaces relevant to future human spaceflight. The final AFID prototype will be advanced to TRL 5-6 over the course of the Phase II program with the ability to distinguish bacteria (detection threshold > 500 CFU/100 cm2) and fungi (detection threshold > 10 CFU/100 cm2) which meet the pre-flight and in-flight microbial mapping microbial monitoring requirements as defined by the International Space Station Medical Operations Requirements Documents (ISS MORD).
Numerous NASA applications benefit from ensuring proper disinfection of surfaces, particularly habitat protection applications. This technology would enable in-situ measurement of spacecraft, lander, rover, and instrument cleanliness.
A fluorescence imager has multiple applications in the medical, defense, and industrial markets. This technology could be applied to ultraviolet (UV) light disinfection systems used in hospitals to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) to ensure proper disinfection and identify pathogens in the hospital. This technology could also be used for bio-agent sensing for defense applications.
Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc. (ACT) proposes to develop and mature a compact and effective cooling system for standardized modular power electronics aiming for future space missions. In Phase I, ACT performed a trade study and developed two advanced heat spreaders for 3U electronics cooling: (1) Hi-K™ plate and (2) pulsating heat pipe (PHP) thermal plane. Both heat spreaders outperform the conventional heat spreader (conduction only aluminum plate), and can operate in both vertical and horizontal orientations. PHP is 10% lighter than Hi-K™ plate and aluminum plate. In Phase II, ACT will continue to mature the PHP heat spreader technology and develop the complete cooling system of a Modular Electronics Unit (MEU) for space missions. The thermal performance of the PHP from theoretical models and manufacturability will be evaluated to yield an optimum design applicable for various electronics in Space VPX platforms. To characterize the heat spreader performance under various conditions, both transient and steady-state operation will be tested for high and low heat fluxes, as well as in vacuum, and at system level. The performance of PHPs and Hi-K™ plate will be compared in relevant Space VPX environments. An advanced enclosure with embedded cooling will also be developed to minimize the overall system thermal resistance from the cards to the ultimate heat sink on a spacecraft. The final deliverable will be a flight-like MEU cooling system, consisting of down-selected PHP heat spreaders, enhanced conduction card retainers, and an embedded cooling chassis.
The proposed cooling system can effectively remove the waste heat from electronics cards to the heat sink. This will allow for a long duration operation of high-power electronics in space. Many NASA applications will benefit, including human landing systems, cis-lunar Gateway, Electric propulsion to Mars and Planetary habitat, etc. The two-phase thermal plane and embedded chassis cooling concepts are also applicable for high-performance CubeSat thermal management.
High-power-density electronics (e,g, MOSFETs, GTOs, IGBTs, IGCTs) and Space VPX systems will be the major market for the proposed cooling solutions. The “plug-and-play” components developed under this program are adaptable for many terrestrial applications, including MIDS communication systems for military, electronics in missile and radar systems, electric vehicles, data center cooling, etc.
We developed a functional laboratory disorientation trainer prototype. The end deliverable is a system that astronauts will regularly use to simulate landing and recovery type tasks and that is used to develop sensorimotor standards to gage suitability to perform tasks. We adapted an existing portable constant current stimulation design (that incorporates an in-built IMU) into a first functional version of a galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) disorientation trainer that fully meets the stated deliverables of the solicitation. The early prototype was single channel, wirelessly charged, had data logging capability, ~5 hour run time, 1 mA current limit, and provided full control via a bluetooth connected smartphone app. We adapted it into a 2 channel version to allow simulating pitch and roll tilt, increase current limit to 5 mA and related voltage compliance, provide option for user-adjustable manual gain, emergency on-off switch, incorporate user-switchable rechargeable batteries, and external /manual event triggering. Phase-1 established a laboratory version of the disorientation trainer culminating in pilot testing with 3 participants.
Upon successful completion of Phase-2, we will have validated our device for inducing spatial
disorientation using a range of simulated operational tasks. We envision our technology being used by NASA JSC to train all crew-members. In the future, there is potential for NASA to use the same technology to treat space sickness.
We have begun discussions with private space companies on incorporating our technology. In addition, technology can be used as a countermeasure for space sickness. Further commercial applications include medical (e.g. correction of balance impairment in Traumatic Brain Injury) and virtual / augmented reality in training and entertainment.
Motiv Space Systems (Motiv) proposes a transformative robotic solution, CrossLink, for On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and
Manufacturing (OSAM). Crosslink is a fusion of existing and emerging technologies under development at Motiv. For OSAM
activities to realize their full potential, robotic systems of the future must improve in a number of key areas. CrossLink will
enable future OSAM activities through:
NASA's OSAM programs are developing ever sophisticated robotic technologies and tools. An emphasis on modularity, scalability and affordability is growing within the community. The CrossLink addresses each of these points of emphasis and provides options for NASA in its pursuit of assembly activities on orbit. Specific mission concepts include the In-Space Assembled Telescope, aggregated instrument payloads assembled on truss systems for complex science gathering, assembly of 3D printed structures, Internal Gateway Robotics, etc.
As NASA and other government agencies create mission roadmaps for OSAM related activities, commercial entities are building business plans to create an industrial operated sector complete with services. The CrossLink can support mission services including space tugs, material transfer between depots, and on-orbit construction of integrated systems following multiple launches.
In this Phase II program, Kyma Technologies will advance the state of the art in kV-class Schottky barrier diode devices utilizing gallium oxide (Ga2O3) materials and domestically produced, chemically pure halide vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE)-derived epilayers. Devices will be tested for radiation hardness and radiation effects will be simulated to assist in rad-hard device design. These exciting new devices are poised to offer significant improvements in size, weight, and efficiency over the current state-of-the-art heavy-ion SEE-tolerant silicon power devices.
Applications for NASA include kilowatt-class power distribution systems for space vehicles and future lunar or Martian habitats. Additionally, power systems with reduced energy losses for remote sensing instruments or sensors for use in Saturn missions, Jovian moon missions, Venus missions, and deep space exploration are potential applications.
Applications outside of NASA include industrial motor drives, PV inverters, hybrid and electric vehicles, and inverters for wind turbines.
Future NASA science and exploration missions require significant performance improvements over the state-of-the-art in Power Management and Distribution (PMAD) systems. Space qualified, high voltage power electronics can lead to higher efficiency and significant SWaP-C advantage at the system architecture level and serve as an enabling technology for diverse applications. Gallium Oxide (Ga2O3) is an ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor technology with superior electronic properties for high-voltage power applications. Ga2O3 devices offer higher temperature operation, lower on-resistance, higher breakdown voltages, and higher power conversion efficiency than Silicon power devices. However, their performance in the space environment, including high-energy radiation and wide temperature fluctuations, is largely unknown. A thorough characterization and design effort is essential for advancing this technology to meeting NASA requirements. CFDRC, in collaboration with the University at Buffalo (UB), Vanderbilt University, and KYMA Technologies, will utilize a proven experimental and physics-based modeling approach to address this challenge. In Phase I, we performed irradiation testing for single event effects (SEEs) of β-Ga2O3 power MOSFETs from UB (up to 8 kV rating), generated device response data, and identified potential handling/testing challenges with this technology. TCAD modeling of SEEs was performed for insight into physical mechanisms. In Phase II, we will perform additional heavy-ion testing as a function of temperature and bias. Extensive TCAD-based modeling will be performed to identify radiation and temperature dependent mechanisms, and device structure/process modifications for improved radiation tolerance. Promising solutions will be prototyped, tested, and delivered to NASA, along with a technology development roadmap. Participation by KYMA in Phase II and beyond will ensure manufacturability of the space-qualified, β-Ga2O3 power MOSFET technology.
Radiation tolerant, high voltage/high temperature Ga2O3 power electronics is an enabling technology for power management and distribution in spacecrafts and scientific instruments. It directly supports NASA goals for Lunar and Planetary Surface PMAD and the Kilopower program. It also benefits Remote Sensing Instruments and Sensors related to NASA Science and Exploration missions. The modeling and analysis tools for electronic qualification will be a Cross-Cutting Technology for all NASA missions requiring high voltage power electronics.
Radiation tolerant Ga2O3 power electronics are applicable in DoD space systems (communication, surveillance, missile defense), commercial satellites, and nuclear power systems. High-voltage/high-temperature tolerant Ga2O3 power devices have applications in power conditioning systems (avionics and electric ships), solid-state drivers for heavy electric motors, PMAD and control electronics.
An F-band SSPA is required for the Scanning Microwave Limb Sounder on the Global Atmospheric Composition Mission and the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) airborne observatory. The proposed amplifier will drive the LO multiplier chain for mixers in the submillimeter-wave detector.
Future NASA Earth Science missions require submillimeter-wave remote sensing instruments to monitor air quality, climate variability and change, ozone layer stability, weather, and the global hydrological cycle. Submillimeter-wave sensors can provide enhanced resolution over lower frequency sensors. A key enabler for this technology is an F-band (106-114 GHz) solid-state power amplifier (SSPA) as described in this proposal. Other applications include planetary missions which require W/F-band FMCW sensors to assist in planetary landings.
The technology developed in F-band is readily applicable to build amplifiers in communication systems for aeronautical navigation and broadcasting. Applications for this W/F-band high-efficiency amplifier technology also abound at agencies ranging from helicopter landing and obstacle detection/avoidance radars to cloud radar, UAV, and DoD’s V/W-band (Hotspots) communications systems.
In this work we will develop and prototype a SiC integrated power conversion modular platform for electronics that can operate at very high temperature (500C). The platform is for NASA to use in its space vehicles and rovers to provide power to a set a different instruments and actuators from a single main DC bus line and convert it to the various other DC levels that are required by the different instruments in the vehicle. In addition, the DC-DC power converter platform will be built so that its constituent electronics are able to operate at temperature up to 500C. To enable such high temperature operation, instead of using standard silicon, which fails at approximately 250C, we are using the nascent wide bandgap semiconductor silicon-carbide (SiC) technology. CoolCAD Electronics has developed and patented fabrication methods for SiC that are enabling the construction of electronics that can operate at these high temperatures. In addition, in collaboration with the Power Electronics Group at Arizona State University, we are building entire DC-DC converter systems that can of function in these extreme environments. This requires not only building the high temperature chips and transistors, but we are also building the printed circuit boards with appropriate chip packaging, as well as novel inductors and capacitors that can reliably withstand these temperatures. In addition, we are designing the electronic circuits to be modular and scalable so that the components can be cost effectively used in a variety of applications by paralleling individual power half-bridges as well as complete half bridge modules. Finally, special circuit topologies are being developed that will allow for use of inductive and capacitive components that are realizable for very high temperature operation. In Phase 1, we developed some of these high temperature capabilities; in Phase 2, we will extend this work to develop a complete high temperature DC-DC modular power converter system.
Harsh environment SiC power converters have wide cost-effective applications in (a) spacecraft power management, (b) DC distribution systems in Venus/Mercury/Mars exploration, (c) motor drives, inverters and power supply derivatives in the Space Station, satellite power systems, and (d) motor drives in 'more electric' technology applied to spacecraft and space vehicles. SiC technology finds applications in harsh environments for SiC based control and driver integrated circuits and sensors, where regular Si technology cannot operate.
Applications of high temperature (500C) harsh environment SiC power electronics include: (a) automotive engine control and exhaust monitoring (b) power management systems in ground and aerospace vehicles (c) electrical actuator and motors drives in jet engines, (d) geothermal energy monitoring, (e) smart high-temperature sensors, (f) controls for furnaces, gas turbines and nuclear power plants.
NASA aero-science ground test facilities, including transonic, supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnels, provide critical data and fundamental insight required to understand complex phenomena and support the advancement of computational tools for modeling and simulation. In these facilities, high-repetition-rate (10 kHz–1 MHz) full boundary layer velocity profile measurement techniques are needed to track the turbulent boundary layer dynamics. Current state-of-the-art boundary measurement capabilities are really limited because of intrusiveness, model surface damaging with high-peak laser intensity, experimental complexity (e.g., need holes on the model), high measurement uncertainty, and low spatiotemporal resolution. This proposal offers an integrated package of truly cutting-edge, high-repetition-rate (up to 1 MHz rate), single-line or two-line KTV system for full boundary layer velocity profile measurement within a single tunnel test. The proposed KTV technique provides high accuracy with high spatiotemporal resolution and will also avoid any potential model damages – enabling measurement everywhere on the model. The concepts and ideas proposed are ranging from proof-of-principles demonstration of novel methodologies using a pulse-burst laser pumped Kr-OPO system for boundary profile measurement to applications realistic tunnel conditions. The proposed high-repetition-rate KTV system can be also used for Kr-PLIF imaging, providing flow structure and other flow parameters information for understanding of unsteady and turbulent flows, particularly in boundary layers.
The proposed research effort will provide new instrumentation capabilities and methodologies, together with a convenient and user-friendly software package for the high-speed KTV system control, data analysis and interpretation, for tracking turbulent boundary layer that is required as inputs to model and predict complicated turbulence flow behavior in NASA large-scale wind tunnels. The proposed system developed under this SBIR work will help to reduce programmatic risk for the high-speed Test and Evaluation (T&E) community.
This system could also be applied in various large test facilities in many universities, research institutes and aviation companies for accurate flow and combustion measurements. The potential customers could be from research facilities in DoD, DARPA, DOE and other Government agencies, industrial aeronautical companies, such asBoeing, Lockheed Martin, GE, Pratt-Whitney, and Raytheon.
NASA is seeking improvements to current spacesuit pressure garment bladders in several key areas, including increased microbial resistance, imparting self-healing capabilities, and decreasing the friction between the bladder and surrounding materials. To create these improvements, TRI Austin proposes further development of new polyurethane materials that were demonstrated in Phase I to have antimicrobial properties, with greater than 99.9% reduction in both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, while maintaining excellent thermomechanical properties. This polyurethane will be used as a drop-in replacement for the current polyurethane coating material used in legacy space suit pressure garment bladders. This new polyurethane was created incorporating novel antimicrobial additives which make polyurethanes, as well as other polymers, persistently antimicrobial. These new polyurethanes are expected to decrease or even eliminate the need for biocide use in next-gen space suit applications, without causing significant changes to the current production or processing methods. In addition, minimizing friction with surrounding materials will be investigated as these polyurethanes are refined. TRI Austin will work with the current producer of pressure garment bladders to ensure the new polyurethane is a drop-in replacement for the legacy material. The new formulation will be iteratively refined and scaled until a polyurethane is created which satisfies or exceeds all of NASA’s desired requirements. These materials will then be used to create a spacesuit arm assembly and tested at the component level.
Potential NASA applications include new materials for pressure garment bladders for integration into the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) and used in a variety of space-based missions including on the International Space Station (ISS), and in future missions to both the Moon and Mars. Additionally, this material could be used in other applications that require both flexibility and antimicrobial properties, such as water reservoirs, water cooling tubing, and drink pouches.
Applications could include use as persistent antimicrobial coatings and films such as those used for food manufacturing, medical devices, marine diving, water containment, sewage treatment, CBRN protective suits, and creation of antimicrobial surfaces, at the industrial and consumer level. The new material may also be used by the U.S. DoD in flight suits and coatings for water containment systems.
The goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate a compact, modular adaptive optics system with a beaconless wavefront sensor that advances NASA’s vision for ultra-low-cost, precision optical systems for CubeSats through the mitigation of adverse effects on imaging quality associated with cost and schedule reduction strategies in the design, manufacturing, and testing of optical components.
During the Phase I program, Nanohmics advanced the design and requirements for the modular AO platform through modeling and simulation. The feasibility of the approach was verified through the construction and laboratory testing of a breadboard AO system. Investigations into the optical and system-level requirements for the platform identified multiple, customizable paths for integrating the adaptive optics technology into new and existing optical systems.
During the Phase II program, Nanohmics proposes to mature software and hardware components of the modular adaptive optics platform to develop an operational system prototype by the completion of the program. Nanohmics will also design and build a 180 mm aperture, all-aluminum optical system for area scan imaging at visible and near infrared wavelengths suitable for 12-16U CubeSats and integrate it with the AO platform. The results of laboratory and ground field testing of the imaging system under a range of environmental conditions will demonstrate and characterize the ability of the AO system to compensate for relevant optical aberrations. To advance the AO platform to a TRL of 5+, individual components and subsystems will also undergo a more rigorous set of environmental tests to qualify them for low-Earth orbit environments.
The initial target market is Earth orbit scientific research within NASA SMD, particularly Earth-imaging, astronomy, and optical communication. The ability of the AO system to improve image quality, while reducing the cost and lead time, of optical imagers and multipurpose imaging radiometers is applicable to several target observables listed in the 2017 Earth Science Decadal Survey—in particular, Surface Biology and Geology, Atmospheric Winds, and Aerosols—and those required to meet the goals of NASA’s new Earth System Observatory.
Passive, extended-scene plenoptic wavefront sensing and adaptive optics can be used to improve the imaging capabilities of space and airborne platforms used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, environmental studies, industrial emissions monitoring, oil and gas exploration, agriculture and forestry, and optical communication.
This NASA Phase II SBIR program would develop ultra-wide bandwidth, conformal nanomembrane based strain sensors for nondestructive evaluation applications, using silicon on insulator techniques in combination with nanocomposite materials. Semiconductor nanomembrane strain sensors are thin, mechanically and chemically robust materials that may be patterned in two dimensions to create multi-sensor element skin arrays that can be conformally attached onto vehicle and model surfaces. The team will transition the conformal nanomembrane based strain sensors from their current concept to prototype stage products of use to NASA’s test facilities. The team will optimize an improved mechanical and electrical model of semiconductor nanomembrane based sensor performance that will allow quantitative optimization of material properties and suggest optimal methods for sensor attachment and use for nondestructive evaluation applications. The team will fabricate patterned two-dimensional sensor arrays and internal electronics using optimized materials. The team will perform a complete analysis of sensor cross-sensitivities and noise sources to allow optimization of signal-to-noise ratio and practical sensor sensitivity.
The advanced real-time structure health monitoring requires accurate experimental information about the crack initiation and sizing and direction in the structure. In a material under active stress, such as some components of operational vehicles during flight, ultra-width strain sensors mounted in an area can detect the formation of a crack at the moment it begins propagating.
Primary customers would be university, government laboratory and industry researchers. The technique is valuable for detecting cracks forming in pressure vessels and pipelines transporting liquids under high pressures.
As the electrification revolution is underway to combat climate change, one technical hurdle limits the progress, namely the ability to store large amount of electrical energy. Even though there has been a huge improvement in energy density for batteries in the last decade, it is still not enough to provide adequate power to weight-sensitive applications aerospace applications. There is significant interest in developing breakthrough technologies that can improve the energy density of a system as this is one of the key to realizing the vision of widespread commercialization of electric propulsion-based aircrafts. Structural supercapacitors based on multifunctional composite laminates can alleviate this technical hurdle by using part of the structure to store additional energy.
This SBIR Phase II project will build on the success of Phase I effort where a novel solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) was developed using an ionic polymer and a nano-scale filler. This SPE posses excellent room temperature ionic conductivity and mechanical integrity required for developing structural supercapacitors. The Phase I effort demonstrated that the developed SPE, when used as matrix material, can be utilized to fabricate carbon-fiber-composite-based structural supercapacitor. In Phase II, this structural supercapacitor design will be improved to develop a structural supercapacitor system with superior energy density and specific modulus. The research effort will be governed by the challenge of achieving a multifunctional efficiency value of greater than unity that is required for achieving a mass-saving design. If successful, this Phase II effort will provide a key enabling technology for electrified aircrafts.
Parabolic antennas are commonly used at satellite ground terminals to support applications such as data delivery from science and imagery satellites, direct-to-home broadcasting, internet to underserved areas, and business connectivity because of their performance to price ratio. The performance, or efficiency, of parabolic antennas used at most ground stations worldwide is sub-optimal. Two dominant losses which reduce antenna efficiency are illumination loss and spill-over loss, and both manifest as an impact to the phase and amplitude distribution of an electromagnetic signal at the antenna’s surface. Improving the efficiency of existing parabolic antennas without significantly increasing their price is highly desirable as the additional gain realized by the antenna translates to improved data throughput or a decrease in the size, weight, and power (SWaP) burden on the user spacecraft or the main ground terminal without the installation of entirely new antennas.
Current solutions to improve efficiency of antennas are expensive as they require the redesign of components such as antenna feeds or even complete replacement of an existing antenna system with a new one. Teltrium’s innovation is a Parabolic Antenna Lens (PAL) that improves the performance of parabolic antennas by using metasurfaces composed of periodic subwavelength metal/dielectric structures that resonantly couple to the electric and/or magnetic components of the incident electromagnetic fields to reduce losses that impact antenna efficiency by compensating for non-uniformities in the phase of the electromagnetic signal received or transmitted by the antenna. Two solutions will be prototyped: a horn-mount PAL that has a small metasurface in front of an antenna’s horn feed to reduce spill-over loss, and a top-mount PAL that has a metasurface placed on top of a parabolic antenna to reduce illumination loss. These two type of PALs will be integrated into COTS Ku-band antennas and performance tested.
The PAL innovation has the most direct near-term benefit to ground station terminals that provide communications services to space users. Improving the efficiency of existing antennas is a cost-effective way to gain performance that is relevant to NASA. PAL will help improve the performance of ground antennas used to support NASA spacecraft, particularly as new mission challenges drive higher communications performance.
Applications of the PAL innovation to commercial satellite ground stations are similar to those for NASA ground terminals. Commercial ground antennas including ground stations, teleports, VSATs and Direct-to-Home terminals segment can achieve improved performance with PAL, thus increasing data throughput capabilities of such systems and positively impacting business results.
In early 2021, the FAA issued a ruling that all UAVs over 250g weight would now have to report their ID, location, and a few other parameters in real time, in a manner that could be received by users on the ground. KalScott aims to develop and demonstrate RemoteID devices to comply with this rule. In this Phase I SBIR project, KalScott developed and demonstrated a network-based RemoteID device (based on LTE), and a Broadcast RemoteID device (based on Bluetooth) during Phase I. Several ground and flight tests were conducted, where the functionality of the devices was tested, and observations were made to enable us to identify gaps, and to refine the design in Phase II. Both the units showed the ability to broadcast the RemoteID message with the required information fields (ID, timestamp, GPS Lat/Long, Barometric Altitude, and Velocity). System message rates, latency, and range were the key parameters that were observed. The devices were demonstrated in real time operation to NASA and non-NASA personnel. In addition, we began development of a security plan, and a certification plan. Based on the results of the Phase I effort, the following are the tasks planned for Phase II: a) Refine and flight test hardware for LTE and BLE-based RemoteID devices, and networked data distribution, b) Develop multi-band chip version, covering LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, c) Develop and implement data and hardware security protocols, d) Develop certification plan and collect data to support certification applications e) Continue working relationships with NASA, FAA and USAF including porting data into FAA servers and f) Develop a Manufacturing Plan. Personnel from NASA and FAA have also expressed interest in collaboration. An investor group has committed matching funds for Phase II-E and CCRPP follow-on phases for this project (a letter is included in the Capital Commitments section).
This technology can improve the safety of Next Gen airspace operations where manned traffic will mingle with unmanned aircraft and air taxis. NASA is working on several initiatives such as the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), Aerial Port, and High Density Vertiports (HDV), where this technology may serve as a bridge between several different communications protocols.
Non-NASA applications include equipping autonomous airfield equipment to enable deconfliction with taxying aircraft, operating as an organic air traffic monitoring system in remote areas or in disaster zones, providing interoperability and cross-communications in aerial firefighting, etc. This system can be the aerial node for IoT implementations in emerging Smart Cities programs.
NASA has shown interest in applying thin-ply, tailorable technology with the potential to reduce cost and weight (including minimum gauge designs) optimizing mass efficiency in aerospace and space components. Our approach will focus on small end fittings for struts but larger hollow structures such as the strut itself can be considered. Damage tolerance with thin-ply is key in propellant tanks, while minimum weight solutions with the potential for material reuse are critical for deep-space habitation structures.Key technical objectives of the proposed Phase II effort is:
The final deliverable will be the fabrication of composite end fittings for struts fabricated with the novel material and process solution. The results will demonstrate the potential to fabricate thin-ply, tailorable hollow structures for load-bearing applications reducing material weight with improved damage tolerance.
NASA has shown interest in thin-ply, tailorable (steerable) technology to reduce cost and weight (including minimum gauge designs) optimizing mass efficiency. We will focus on small end fittings for struts in space frame applications but larger hollow structures can be considered. A NASA report on Passive Aeroelastic Tailoring has shown steering benefits in designs of wing structures while damage tolerance with thin-ply is key in propellant tanks. TuFF unique capability of material reuse/recycling can impact deep-space habitation structures.
The general approach and specific technologies developed in this SBIR can also be applied to other commercial and military applications (aerospace, automotive, wind etc). These applications may require additional material testing and R&D to meet certifications and particular application requirements.
Robotic technologies are expected to support the Artemis missions in numerous ways, from lander site preparation to various construction and lander logistic tasks in orbit and on the lunar surface. Controlling these remote assets effectively confronts a longstanding problem in robotics. Teleoperating these robots remotely induces a high cognitive load on robot operators because they must manage 6 degrees of freedom in the mobile base, up to 7 degrees of freedom in the robotic arm, and additional degrees of freedom in the end-effector. To compound the issue, remote assets generally have myopic sensor feedback that does not provide sufficient information alone to maintain situational awareness for effective operations. As such, operators must also control any additional sensor apparatus or robots used to maintain situational awareness. Situational awareness has a large impact on mission outcome-salient information fused and appropriately displayed to a remote operator has shown to result in higher mission success. However, reconfiguring a multi-agent system to increase situational awareness will further burden crew workload as operators will need to manually allocate and position additional resources to obtain requisite views. To address this issue, TRACLabs has invented a framework called ACES (Autonomous Cobots to Enhance Situational Awareness) to enhance perceptual feedback and decrease the cognitive load on remote robot operators by building upon ideas from active perception, sliding autonomy and task-level commanding. The resulting system autonomously positions additional robots or sensor systems not currently engaged in a task to obtain additional meaningful percepts to enhance operator situational awareness, thus increasing the likelihood of successful task completion while reducing cognitive load on crew.
Multiple near-term and future NASA missions and projects could benefit from the advances we expect to see over the lifetime of this project, including:
LANDO – NASA ECI project starting 10/1/2021
MMPACT – Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology
PASS – Persistent Assembled Space Structures
LSMS – Ongoing effort to further develop and demonstrate the LSMS (Lunar Surface Manipulation System)
OSAM – On-orbit Service Assembly and Manufacturing efforts
OSAM efforts of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Space Vehicles (RV) division; DARPA RSGS; Commercial Space Companies; Inspection/verification for remote facilities for Energy, Automotive, and Chemical Manufacturing sectors
NASA seeks to develop an Aerosol Separator (AS) as the sample inlet for any mass spectrometer (MS) operating in a planetary atmosphere containing suspended aerosols, including liquid, icy, and metallic particles. The primary role of the AS is to inertially set apart heavier particles from the gas using the NanoJet technology, and determine aerosol chemical composition, number, and size distribution. The most stressing case for the new AS technology is the unknown 360 nm absorber suspended in acidic aerosols in Venus’ clouds. It is also applicable for aerial and surface missions to Titan and Mars and subsonic probe missions to the ice giants. The MS measurements require low gas pressures created by vacuum pumps, and for the planetary missions, these pumps must be extremely small and lightweight. To meet this need, on the proposed program, Creare plans to develop and deliver advanced miniature vacuum pumps that are compact, lightweight, and will withstand the challenging sampling conditions presented by acidic aerosols and spaceflight. In Phase I, we performed life testing of pumps with acidic sampling gases and developed pump and electronics designs for a flight system. We also identified COTS electronic components to substitute for flight electronics in a ground demonstration system. In Phase II, we will build and deliver pumps and electronics for use in a NASA test facility. In Phase III, we will deliver components for space missions based on our past successful vacuum systems used on the Mars Science Laboratory and ExoMars MSs.
The successful completion of this program will result in miniature vacuum pumps that are tolerant to the most extreme planetary atmospheric environments in our solar system. The vacuum pumps will be ideal for use in an AS to study planetary atmospheric composition. Potential NASA missions include a mission to study acidic aerosols in the clouds of Venus, aerial and surface missions to Titan and Mars, and subsonic probe missions to the ice giants.
The military and commercial market for the Creare miniature pump technology are for lightweight and portable MSs and gas chromatographs for air sampling, radioactive material identification, and homeland security applications.
In response to NASA SBIR topic S3.08 Command, Data Handling, and Electronics (SBIR), Alphacore Inc. will develop a single-inductor, multiple output (SIMO) high-efficiency point of load (POL) DC-DC converter. We have code-named this exciting technology “POLESTAR” (Point of Load converter with high Efficiency, SIMO architecture and Tolerance Against Radiation). The technology has excellent commercial potential.
For typical NASA missions, both mass and power consumption and wide temperature operation is a critical need. Especially for missions requiring mobility, overall SWaP as well as volume is dominated by motor drive and associated electronics. In the Phase II of this project, Alphacore Inc., will design, fabricate and test a buck DC-DC converter that can directly convert voltages from 11V to 36V, down to multiple required power rails ranging from 1.5V to 5V, while supporting at least 10A of current to the load. In the Phase I program, Alphacore Inc. designed a digitally intensive, high-efficiency, radiation hard, hybrid GaN/CMOS integrated single controller, enabling single-inductor multiple output (SIMO) operation. The developed controller enabled a reduced component count, enabling reduced failure modes, lower PCB area. This solution includes all controller circuitry and drivers integrated in a single CMOS ASIC chip, as well as the GaN-based primary DC-DC converter’s power stage in a single module. The hybrid module is planned to have a small form factor, namely 15mm x 15mm x 4mm that can generate 4 supply rails all from a single module.
Alphacore’s high performance DC/DC converters will bridge the gap in spacesuits designed for deep space and surface missions. They will be suitable for smart instruments and controllers used in spacesuit life support systems for NASA’s human missions to Mars and the Deep Space Gateway missions.
The proposed solution will also benefit NASA’s robotic systems such as the SPIDER and the Canadaarm3. Our solution can efficiently power up to 3 loads with a single inductor, and enable significant reduction in size and weight for future NASA platforms.
Our design is an excellent fit for key SWaP, Hi-Rel, and high-radiation applications such as cubesats, nanosats, robotics, autonomous aircrafts/spacecrafts, and constellation satellites to be operated in environments ranging from LEO to deep space and planetary missions. Other applications include defense and aerospace-related power management for controllers and smart devices as well.
Outward Technologies proposes to continue development of a Sintering End Effector for Regolith (SEER) in Phase II. The SEER system enables efficient transmission (>82.2%) of Concentrated Solar Energy (CSE) for a wide range of high temperature processes including additive manufacturing, additive construction, and oxygen production on the Moon. SEER enables heating lunar regolith to maintain a focal point temperature between 1,000-1,100°C and sintering at translation speeds of between 1-10 mm/s. SEER may be interfaced with a primary solar concentrator through a fiber optic waveguide, or through a free space optical design for dramatically improved transmission efficiencies and reduced launch mass. The SEER design is scalable, efficient, durable, lightweight, and an ideal choice for regolith sintering and ISRU on the Moon. SEER enables continuous operation for high temperature thermochemical processes without causing damage to sensitive optics. The design is resistant to fouling from regolith dust, spallation, sputtering, and gases produced with high processing temperatures. The objectives of the proposed Phase II project are to advance the SEER TRL from 4 to 5 by documenting test performance in a simulated operational environment, establishing predicted performance for subsequent SEER development phases, and defining scaling requirements for SEER’s use in additive construction and manufacturing on the Moon with the ultimate goal of being scalable to 11.1 kW of delivered solar energy. Self-cleaning operations will be explored and predicted maintenance schedules will be established in Phase II. These proposed Phase II efforts mark a significant addition to NASA’s capabilities for lunar ISRU, hydrogen and carbothermal reduction, and the sintering of regolith to produce parts and structures on the Moon with regolith as the only feedstock.
SEER’s primary NASA application is the fabrication of 3D printed components using solar power and regolith as the only feedstock. SEER addresses 2020 taxonomy areas TX07.1.4 Resource Processing for Production of Manufacturing, Construction, and Energy Storage Feedstock Materials by utilizing sintered regolith as a fabrication material; and TX07.1.3 Resource Processing for Production of Mission Consumables for heating regolith with high thermodynamic efficiencies to produce oxygen through carbothermal reduction and related processes.
SEER is used to provide controlled, high temperatures for powering thermochemical processes with concentrated solar energy. SEER may be used to replace fossil fuels in high temperature thermochemical processes for industrial decarbonization at locations on Earth with abundant sunlight.
NASA seeks to develop novel oxygen extraction concepts that allow for the production of oxygen on the surface of the Moon using Lunar regolith. As part of this system, in situ resource utilization (ISRU) process requires a pressurized volume to be evacuated to prevent the loss of products to the vacuum of space. While processing the regolith, some of the released gasses have acidic elements that must be handled for oxygen production. For this reason, NASA has expressed the need for a contamination-tolerant vacuum pump which can recover vapors from the pressurized volume before discarding the spent regolith. The pump has two firm requirements:
One promising ISRU oxygen extraction method is Gustafoson’s carbothermal system. This system is designed to collect oxygen from the Lunar regolith utilizing the carbothermal reduction process. The process may be summarized as a reduction of collected minerals containing metallic oxides (regolith) with carbonaceous source to form CO and H2, followed by a reduction of CO with H2 to form CH4 and water, and finally electrolysis of the water to form O2 and H2. While unnecessary on the pilot tested on Earth, a deployable system requires a contaminant tolerant vacuum pump to evacuate a process vessel to prevent the loss of any products or consumables to the vacuum of space. To accomplish this request, Air Squared is proposing the development of a robust, oil-free, Contamination-Tolerant Scroll Vacuum Pump (CTSVP).
By drawing a vacuum to preserve ISRU consumables in a pressurized volume and maintaining optimal performance while handling contaminant laden regolith or atmospheric vapors without contaminating downstream processes, the CTSVP fills two ISRU technological gaps. Therefore, Air Squared has identified two promising marketplaces for the CTSVP to be pursued in Phase II:
The purpose of this effort is to develop and demonstrate a compact and high-performance hyperspectral imager designed specifically for remote sensing of aquatic systems/ecosystems. The proposed design utilizes anamorphic optics, a unique segmented dual blaze grating, and innovative filter placement to maximize the instrument’s sensitivity and dynamic range. These innovations enable retrieval of fainter signals as compared to conventional slit spectrometers, especially in the short wavelength regime where solar illumination is attenuated by the Earth’s atmosphere. The innovations enable higher performance while keeping cost and weight low. The proposed instrument is designed to be flown on low-flying unmanned aerial vehicles, enabling accessibility to a wide range of researchers and data collection in many more scenarios than is possible with current satellite and airborne assets.
The instrument will provide cost-effective ground-truthing for current NASA assets such as PRISM, sensors on board Landsat-8 and 9, and the MODIS instruments. Future applications include ground-truthing for instruments such as the OCI on board PACE and the GLIMR mission. The proposed instrument may also be used to collect data relevant to the Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) study and the Arctic-COLORS field campaign.
The proposed instrument system will be accessible to researchers and organizations with limited financial resources. Potential applications may include public safety (e.g., monitoring of harmful algal blooms and water quality), shallow water benthic mapping, and marine fauna surveys.
SBIR Phase II proposal to develop active dust mitigation spacesuit fabrics that provide micrometeroid protection at 25% weight savings using engineered materials. Current Extra-vehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) suits do not provide protection against abrasive lunar dust because their fabric construction attracts and retains dust Force Engineering's SBIR Phase I developed an innovative shell fabric and Environmental Protection Garment (EPG) construction using high-strength conductive fiber textiles to provide lightweight environmental and micrometeroid protection with active and passive dust mitigation at 25% weight savings. SBIR Phase II conducts system design and testing to confirm environmental protection and to refine and optimize active dust mitigation using conductive textiles to actively manage the electrical charge of the suit to match operating environment charge state, or actively repel dust using microprocessor control to tailored charge states of the suit to repel dust.
Force Engineering combines several well-developed technologies into a practical outer layer design, which will provide excellent protection from dust, fire, thermal, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, impact penetration and cut/puncture. The new garment protection system will be integrated to minimize weight and maximize flexibility such as to not prohibit, degrade, or interfere with the use of equipment. Full scale prototypes will be fabricated for puncture, dust, and abrasion tests as well as hyper-velocity impact testing to confirm micrometeroid protection.
Weight savings by creation of smart/multifunctional textile and composite products that enable lighter weight electronics, communication, and power transfer in a damage tolerant, redundant circuits.
Astronaut health monitoring using eTextile. Improved spacesuit capability to integrate redundant textile-based sensor, power, data busses for a wired and continuously monitored astronaut and spacesuit. Ability to detect real-time degradation and damage to spacesuit, gloves, and other garments and to manage garment life, maintenance, and condition.
Active dust/particle/microbe mitigation. Sensor and electronics integration in soldier body armor and other wearable gear to save weight. Wearable eTextile technology for commercial electronics and flexible electronics to create smart fabrics and integrate electronics and microprocessor capability into garments for productivity, entertainment, remote sensing medical diagnostics capability.
Generating continuous tuning waveforms for a DBR laser requires rapid and precise coordination of four separate injection currents. To achieve this in a low cSWaP fashion, waveform generation ICs have been applied in conjunction with sophisticated calibration routines and on-chip thermal compensation.
The technology developed in this program is directly applicable to atmospheric gas sensing, fiber bragg grating interrogation, and LiDar applications within NASA and the commercial space.
The technology developed in this program is directly applicable to atmospheric gas sensing, fiber bragg grating interrogation, and LiDar applications within NASA and the commercial space.
High Performance Computing (HPC) models of heliophysics play a critical role in many aspects of space weather, from understanding fundamental physics to predicting real-world events. HPC models of heliophysics can also support the development of space weather mitigation technologies and decision making. NASA currently employs HPC models, such as ENLIL, to model the physics of the Solar wind. However, ENLIL cannot currently fully exploit the parallel processing capabilities of modern multi-core compute nodes, nor can it utilize the GPU accelerators now common on NASA’s HPC clusters. Maintaining a mission critical code like ENLIL can be a challenge, as both the number of man hours required to enable the code to properly exploit new hardware is non-trivial, and the HPC environment itself is continually evolving. A new Domain Specific Language (DSL), together with a source-to-source translator (called ptool), is proposed that will allow mission critical NASA codes, like ENLIL, to be written in a form that allows for improved portability between various HPC environments and hardware (including GPU accelerators) and reduce the level of skill and effort required to maintain and extend such codes. A proof-of-concept prototype of ptool was developed in Phase I and demonstrated using an in-house CFD solver. The main deliverables in Phase II are progress reports, the final, production version of ptool, and an updated version of ENLIL rewritten using ptool’s syntax that exploits modern, heterogeneous HPC platforms, and will be easier to maintain as the HPC environment continues to evolve.
The proposed work will result in the modernization of ENLIL, a mission critical code used by the NASA CCMC for modeling heliophysics. By improving the performance, portability, and ease of maintenance of ENLIL, the proposed work will support NASA’s role under the National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan, and have a beneficial impact on NASA’s space weather forecasting and mitigation capabilities.
The Domain Specific Language (DSL) and translator may be applied to any Cartesian grid based PDE solver. In addition to space weather modeling, the tools developed under this work will potentially have application in the financial industry. Since the proposed DSL reduces the skill and effort required to write portable HPC code, the tools developed here may be useful for academic teaching/research.
Nanohmics is developing a high-performance imaging spectropolarimeter with low size, weight, and power (SWaP), based on an ultrathin, light-weight, microfabricated multifunction meta-optic. Low-aberration meta-optics are ideal for sensors in SWaP-constrained vehicles. Nanohmics’ spectropolarimeter combines a single multifunction meta-optic with a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) focal plane array (FPA). It collects polarization, spectral, and one-dimensional (1D) imaging data simultaneously at a high frame rate with hyperspectral resolution. In the Phase I, the team successfully demonstrated a breadboard spectropolarimeter based on a multifunction meta-optic that can focus short-wave IR (SWIR) light while analyzing both spectrum and polarization. In Phase II, the team will advance the breadboard to a prototype through ruggedization, laboratory testing, and airborne testing. Phase II will include a scaled-up multifunction meta-optic for increased resolution and light collection. The Phase II prototype is designed to have a larger imaging field of view (FoV). With a mass and volume approximately 1/10 that of existing spectropolarimeters, the low-SWaP, high-performance prototype will be well suited to suborbital and ultimately space missions. The Phase II prototype will operate in a NIR subband to survey the oxygen A and B absorption bands commonly used for measurements of atmospheric aerosols. The rugged prototype will advance to TRL 5 and be delivered to NASA, with initial potential for remote sensing of Earth atmosphere for climate modeling. The proposed compact sensor is ideal for measurements of spectrally resolved atmospheric aerosol absorption and scattering – initially in the near-infrared (NIR) and SWIR bands but easily extensible to other spectral bands such as visible (VIS), mid-wave IR (MWIR), and long-wave IR (LWIR). Meta-optic fabrication using standard CMOS microfabrication techniques will reduce costs and provide a rapid route to commercialization.
The low SWaP of the proposed spectropolarimeter will be well suited for orbital and low-cost suborbital monitoring for NASA’s Earth Science Division (ESD) and Science Mission Directorate (SMD), including for atmospheric composition monitoring, such as for remote sensing of Earth atmosphere for climate modeling. Longer term, the team proposes integration into a range of instruments for NASA ESD data collection and SMD Earth and Solar System missions, including CubeSats, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs), and other SWaP-constrained vehicles.
The high performance, low SWaP, and low cost of the proposed hyperspectral spectropolarimeter will drive applications in the military, industrial, energy, medical, agriculture, and consumer sectors. Applications include autonomous vehicles, security, robotics, land management, and monitoring of gas emissions related to petroleum and chemical production and waste management and water treatment.
SurfPlasma aims to develop a safe, smart, portable, non-thermal, and energy efficient sterilization system, the Active Plasma Sterilizer (APSTM), with inbuilt ozone mixing and rapid ozone removal arrangement. Potential NASA applications include sterilization of heat-sensitive spacecraft components, ground-based contamination control and in-flight cross-contamination control. The approach is to employ dielectric barrier discharge (DBD) plasma using a proprietary miniature reactor, called Compact Portable Plasma Reactors (CPPR), for efficient decontamination. CPPRs are compact, lightweight and energy efficient, with the unique ability to both generate and distribute ozone. In Phase I, we have demonstrated that the APS prototype V0 can achieve 4 to 5 log reductions of pathogenic bacteria on 4 NASA relevant materials, simultaneously at 11 locations distributed inside the APS within 30 minutes using 13.2 W total power consumption. Also, successful ozone penetration for complex fabric layers was established; a catalyst was selected for complete ozone decomposition; and SEM analyses showed no significant degradation of the 4 tested materials during APS operation. Importantly, a strong commercialization interest was identified from investor, manufacturer, distributor, and field test partners. In Phase II, product technical objectives will aim at advancing the APS prototype for (a) building prototype V1 (smart system) with integrated surface detection, temperature and humidity sensors, ozone decomposition module, control panel and display, (b) performing additional sterilization tests based on the Biological Challenge List by NASA-JPL and (c) obtaining material compatibility data sheet for the APS. Deliverables include detailed analysis and a prototype for NASA testing. In parallel to R&D efforts, SurfPlasma will work with a commercialization team of industry experts with established investing, manufacturing, distributing and field test experience during Phase II and beyond.
Potential NASA applications of the lightweight, portable Active Plasma Sterilizer (APS) include safe, effective, and non-thermal sterilization of tools and equipment for contamination control. The APS is suitable for decontamination on ground facilities or on space missions, on the Moon or Mars. The APS will be useful for sensitive tools and equipment that would otherwise be damaged by existing decontamination systems using high temperature (DHMR) and harsh chemicals (VHP); and for equipment with hidden surfaces where UV light would not work.
Non-NASA applications of the APS includes (a) medical device manufacturing industry, (b) hospitals and clinics and (c) food and beverage industry. The APS addresses the broad medical and societal need for a superior safety, fast, non-thermal, convenient, user-friendly, and cost-effective decontamination solution for preventing pathogen spread and reducing HAIs hospital acquired infections.
The planet Venus is an interesting target for scientific exploration. However, long-duration missions to the surface of Venus present a significant challenge to the power system due to its ambient temperature (390 to 485oC), high surface pressure of carbon dioxide (92 bar) and other corrosive gases. Therefore, conventional power technologies including photovoltaic power systems and the traditional batteries could not meet the requirement for Venus surface application. TalosTech LLC proposed to develop a high temperature all solid-state LiAl-CO2 battery with superior cell performance by using ambient carbon dioxide at Venus surface as a reactant at cathode, an innovative tri-layer solid state electrolyte framework as separator, and solidified lithium or lithium aluminum alloy as anode. During Phase I, the team has demonstrated the feasibility of a high-temperature solid-state Li-CO2 battery with super high area capacity (up to 24.3 mAh/cm2), good rechargeability and long durability of over 200 hours operated at CO2 atmosphere and 500 oC, which outperformed any other relevant battery technologies in this area. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a high-energy-density (948 Wh/Kg) and durable battery prototype, which can be operated under the tough conditions of Venus surface for more than 60 days.
Because of the benefits of the proposed battery system in terms of superior high energy, low cost, simple system, high stability, long life, wide operation temperature, and low self-discharging rate, it can be applied for Venus surface missions for both short and long durations. This low-cost and simple system also can be used for other planetary exploration missions where there is enough CO2 in ambient atmosphere.
This proposed Li-CO2 battery system can efficiently convert CO2 into solid carbon or CO with generating electricity efficiently. The technology would benefit the global efforts to develop renewable energy and address the challenge of climate change.
This Phase II program will develop a much higher operating temperature superconducting coil and deliver a full-scale prototype that establishes the capability of exceeding the requirements set forth in topic area S.109 for Sub-Kelvin Cooling ADR (Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigeration). Specifically, the coil will generate a ramped magnetic field of 4T at or above temperatures of 15 K. It will utilize a new first-its-kind small diameter wire based on the Bi2212 high temperature superconductor (HTS), that is now developed and proven by the Phase I program to meet diameter, transport current and loss properties required for ADR coils, and with its fabrication being amenable to scale up. This wire of < 0.16 mm diameter exhibits 3 times higher current density than standard 1 mm diameter wires. Its design includes axial twisting and unmerged filaments for reducing ramped field loss, thin insulation, and current density to meet specifications for up to 20K operation at 4T field, as required for next level ADR coil advances. In this Phase II program, fabrication techniques for up to 5 km piece lengths will be established, with the Bi2212 ceramic superconductor in its unreacted form during coil winding followed by in situ reaction into its high Jc form. A full length, full radial build prototype demo coil will be designed, developed, built, tested and delivered to NASA for evaluation and validation, attaining a TRL of 8 upon completion. This wire type is also applicable to Actuators and Other Cryogenic Devices that are described in the NASA topic area, as well as in other important ramped and ac field coil types, for example in all-superconducting much lighter-weight wind generators and higher powder density motors.
- A new type of 2212-based superconducting coil that will operate in the 15 K to 20 K temperature range for application in next generation ADR magnets sought by NASA for a class of space-based instruments, as compared to present 10 K and lower operating temperature coils, and meeting the specified > 15 K operating temperature range.
- Compact high power density actuator coils in a variety of instruments.
Potential applications of this wire type include (as wire and cable):
- Compact coils in instruments now using permanent magnets that have limited functionality because they cannot be turned off.
- Stators in all-superconducting wind generators and high power density motors being developed to operate above 30 K in affordable cooling regimes.
- Ramped central solenoid coils in fusion reactors.
Advanced systems for wind sampling and measurement are a prime area for technical innovation. Applications range from atmospheric and climate modeling to aerospace vehicle design. Systems with higher temporal resolution and fidelity offer the ability to record increasingly transient atmospheric phenomena, leading to improved feedback for atmospheric modeling and for real-time adaptive systems for flight dynamics and wind power generation systems. Many of these applications are relevant to NASA’s goals and interests.
Systems & Processes Engineering Corporation (SPEC) has proposed a Multi-Channel Long-Range Wind LIDAR system toward increasing the scan rate, and therefore the temporal resolution, of advanced Wind LIDAR systems. The proposed system scales up from a developed single-channel fiber optic based, eye-safe wind LIDAR, initially designed for UAV systems and brought to a bread board level through Army and NASA programs. The single-channel sensor assembly is composed of a fiber optic transceiver consisting of a narrow band seed, acousto-optic modulator for frequency shift and pulse forming, a three-stage erbium/yttrium-doped fiber amplifier, and a coherent receiver, all operating at an eye-safe wavelength of 1550 nm. For multi-channel operation, the LIDAR signal is split prior to the third gain stage. The system electronics and computational stack are in PCIe/104 format, allowing miniaturized light-weight packaging suitable for small UAV applications and the entire range of commercial and military aircraft. By further developing the capabilities of the proposed wind LIDAR system, specifically by increasing the channel count the overall system scan rate can be increased proportionately thereby improving the temporal resolution. The proposed Phase II effort will result in a working prototype at the TRL 6 level.
This Wind LIDAR will have high impact for NASA low altitude UAV applications and all aircraft for clear air turbulence and wind shear detection. Wind speed detection can be used during high altitude loitering to enhance mission duration. The small SWaP allow widespread platform applications. Another NASA application is tactical approaches for wildfire management. NASA is working with the U.S. Forest Service and USGS to be able to identify objects beneath forest canopies, particularly underbrush, that can act as a fuel source for forest fires.
The proposed system yields high fidelity atmospheric measurement leading to improved existing/future military and commercial aircraft design, and aiding weather forecasting and climate studies. Finding low turbulence flight paths in real-time operation will improve fuel economy and reduce airframe wear. Coupling with wind turbines can improve energy harvesting by optimizing turbine orientation.
The proposed innovation is aimed at the Focus Area 10 - Advanced Telescope Technologies, subtopic S2.03 - Advanced Optical Systems and Fabrication/Testing/Control Technologies for Extended-Ultraviolet/Optical and Infrared Telescope (Scope Title: Fabrication, Test, and Control of Advanced Optical Systems). Specifically, NASA needs a reliable, easy-to-use metrology solution that allows highly precise characterization of thermal expansion of large-format glass substrates (e.g. 4-m class Zerodur or 2-m class ULE). To address the NASA need, Hedgefog Research Inc. (HFR) proposes to continue development of its unique Thermal Expansion Mapper (TEM), which provides ultra-precise, rapid, nondestructive characterization of the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) homogeneity. HFR’s TEM offers a highly sensitive, stable, and scalable sensor package with low system overhead that allows 1 ppb/K-level CTE characterization over a few days/weeks for large-format glass substrates. In TEM, HFR adopts multiple design features that eliminate various systematic/random error sources in displacement sensing, thereby providing high sensitivity and repeatability in the presence of environmental perturbations (e.g., temperature variation, vibration, presence of dust, etc.). This new characterization capability promises significant savings in time and cost by allowing the selection of mirror substrates before they undergo costly manufacturing process to turn into lightweight space mirrors for NASA’s telescopes.
NASA applications are mainly focused on fundamental physics research, characterization of large and small optics and, possibly, aerospace components. In essence, TEM provides a simple and ultra-sensitive approach to mapping the CTE of various components, by employing a novel sensing scheme while leveraging mature commercial technologies. As the result, it promises a low-cost, versatile metrology solution that can be used in large-format mirror/lens production not just for NASA but many other branches of the Government and military contractors.
Commercial applications of the technology include optics characterization, materials for aerospace, automotive, semiconductor industry (EUV lithography) and, possibly, medical instrumentation industry. All these applications require mapping of the inhomogeneity of CTE. Additionally, TEM technology may find uses in micro-optics.
This project aims to utilize a new soft actuator technology to create an intelligent actuator with self-diagnosis capabilities. Specifically, Artimus Robotics will develop and demonstrate the use of embedded capacitive sensing in their core technology, HASEL actuation technology, to predict and avoid failure. HASEL actuation technology is an electrically controlled, analog, and highly compliant soft actuation system that can be customized for a variety of performance requirements, functionalities, and use cases.
HASEL actuation technology with self-diagnosis capabilities will directly address a request of this subtopic: development of technologies for enhanced logistics and reliability - Intelligent devices (sensors, actuators, and electronics with self-diagnosis capabilities, calibration on demand, self-healing capabilities, etc.).
This intelligent actuator will have applications in various ground and launch systems where electromechanical devices are used. With the self-diagnosis capabilities, the HASEL actuator will be instrumental in contributing to Autonomous Operating Technologies in environments where human intervention is not feasible. The self-diagnosis capabilities will help reduce operation and maintenance cost as it is expected that the self-diagnosis capabilities will be used to inform and mitigate impending failure events while still conserving operation conditions, and thus extend lifetime of the device to increase utilization.
The key deliverable of this project will be a video and report of a functional demonstrator in a relevant environment with portable electronics that demonstrates autonomous self-diagnosis for anomaly detection and fault prediction. Specific applications may include deployable systems, seals, or other NASA-relevant use cases.
Artimus Robotics intends to implement HASEL actuation technology into AOT ground systems that do not currently support Health Determination and Fault Management, enabling prediction, prognosis, and anomaly detection of system and component failure/degradation. An intelligent HASEL actuator with self-diagnosis capabilities will allow actuators used in space applications to adapt to their ever changing environments and prolong its lifetime.
Artimus Robotics will commercialize a HASEL conveyor brake to replace current pneumatic systems that limit application, control, and integration into IIOT. This product will provide automated conveyor systems, and by extension, industrial markets, with componentry that is electric, intelligent, and controllable enabling self-diagnosis for failure and anomaly prediction.
The NASA Portable Life Support System (PLSS) for the Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) incorporates a Feedwater Supply Assembly (FSA) to store consumable cooling water. The FSA must accept a total of 12 lbs. of pure water prior to each Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), then supply this water to the cooling loop at ambient suit pressure during the EVA, functioning reliably for 700 cycles over 15 years of service. To meet these requirements, NASA has specified multiple ultra-pure fluoropolymer bladders captured in restraints providing overpressure tolerance to 38 psi. The assembly must also conform to a defined geometric envelope. Designs to date present challenges for two primary reasons. First, typical constructions involving a lay-flat bladder captured within a sewn textile restraint do not use space efficiently enough to store the required volume within the available space. Second, wrinkles that form as the bladders inflate cause the fluoropolymer membrane to tear. Other challenges include robust mounting to a rigid structure and visual access for inspection.
RAPA Technologies has developed a novel defined envelope pressure bladder that meets all specifications for the FSA. The design combines the benefits of a flexible bladder with the strength and convenience of a rigid tank, providing an ultra-pure, ambient-pressure reservoir with high cycle life and pressure tolerance, high volumetric efficiency within the available envelope, near-zero dead volume, optical transparency for visual inspection, simplified mounting, and low mass, along with an integrated volume sensor. In Phase I we demonstrated the performance, overpressure resistance, and cycle life of this novel bladder system. In Phase II, we will develop and deliver multiple full-scale qualification FSA units tailored for use in the NASA xEMU.
Our defined envelope bladder system will meet all requirements for the FSA, a critical component of the NASA xEMU. It will also make a natural choice for many other fluid handling applications in space, and can be used to store water, process chemicals, and waste streams. As NASA pursues manned missions to the Moon, lunar orbit, and Mars, the need for bladders that are reliable and stable for years-long missions will continue to grow.
The recent expansion in human space activity by private industry will lead to diverse applications on vehicles, suits, and rovers. We believe that our unique design may also find use in specialized industrial, medical, and military settings for applications such as drone aircraft fuel tanks, chemical transport, medical sample storage, and hydration bladders.
NASA's vision is to eventually establish human outpost stations on the Moon and explore Mars and other destinations further out of the Lower Earth Orbit (LEO). During these space missions, astronauts need to be protected inside space vehicles and space habitats with an atmosphere of 36% oxygen at a pressure of 8.2 psi. To address this need, intrinsically flame-retardant (FR) halogen-free polyamide fibers and fabrics were developed for space crew clothing during the Phase I project. FR polymers were melt spun into multi-filament yarns and knitted into flexible FR textile fabrics. The knitted FR fabrics demonstrated a V-0 grade in the standard UL-94 testing. In the proposed Phase II effort, the FR polyamide polymer developed in the Phase I effort will be optimized to improve the FR property and scaled-up for producing close-to-skin garments for crews in future space missions.
The ultimate value of this innovation is comfortable, durable FR textiles for extended space flight. The new next-to-the-skin flame-retardant fabrics can be used in NASA programs like the lunar Human Landing System (HLS), Orion, Gateway, and Artemis. The FR fabrics developed in this project will allow the astronauts to function in the oxygen-rich atmosphere such as habitats, pressurized rovers, and other space vehicles.
Flame retardant Nylon polymers can be used in electrical devices, construction materials, and textiles. Textile products include panel fabric, Upholstery, Wallcoverings, Bedspreads, blankets, Window screens, Drapery, and Mattresses. MMI's FR Nylon can be extended to other markets, including plastic products, electronics, wire and cables, and lithium batteries in transportation.
Mainstream is developing an Integrated Cryogenic Propellant Liquefaction System (I-CPLS), with a projected mass of 192 kg, including heat rejection and contaminant mitigation, and power consumption of 10.3 kW when operating in a 225 K environment. Our lunar based I-CPLS liquifies oxygen (O2) (3.3 kg/h) and hydrogen (H2) (0.4 kg/h) simultaneously singular cooling system. In Phase I, Mainstream optimized the I-CPLS based on a representative lunar environment and developed refined component designs. The optimized I-CPLS is 3.8 % under the solicitation mass target and 31.3 % under the solicitation power target. The power system remains the dominant mass for this system. As a result of the lower power use, the power system is 31.3 % under the target for both solar and fission power systems. The net benefit of the I-CPLS is a total mass (liquefaction system plus power system) that is 1,492 kg (-28.4 %) or 670 kg (-23.7 %) under the solicitation total system target for solar and fission power systems, respectively, for a 225 K lunar environment. Additionally, the I-CPLS currently complies with the solicitation mass target. However, for each additional kilogram of I-CPLS mass allowed for reducing the rejection temperature reduces the total mass by has a 9.9 kg and 4.5 kg, for solar and fission power, respectively. In Phase II, Mainstream will completing flight-ready demonstration of key components of the I-CPLS which represent the greatest reduction in system risk.
The I-CPLS is targeted at improvement in the cryogenic propellant liquefaction state of the art, in particular system weight reduction. This fills a need for ultra-lightweight and low power liquefaction system designs for lunar and Martian vehicle refueling systems.
The I-CPLS is targeted at improvement in the cryogenic propellant liquefaction state of the art, in particular system weight reduction. This fills a need for ultra-lightweight and low power liquefaction system designs for lunar and Martian vehicle refueling systems.
The System Wide Analysis Network for Safety (SWANS) will deliver up-to-the-minute measurement of hazards and risk events in terminal areas throughout the NAS. Updated with current data every five minutes, SWANS provides timely insight into safety margin trends and detects increases in risk events. These events may indicate changes in airspace risk status and identify possible procedural and other deficiencies. SWANS offers a data processing, distribution, and display infrastructure for adding a wide array of data sources and algorithms to track hazards and measure and predict risk. SWANS contributes directly to the Thrust 5 milestone for Domain-Specific Safety Monitoring and Alerting.
SWANS offers near-term benefits to diverse users by delivering in-time monitoring of risk metrics with alerts for emerging trends. SWANS monitors the NAS for medium (days before), short term (hours before), and near real time (minutes before) trends. The SWANS monitoring tool can be delivered directly to airlines and operators for timely use in safety analysis, flight planning, operations monitoring decision making, and flight crew/dispatcher training. FAA safety managers can use SWANS to identify “hot spots” and detect evolving safety trends.
SWANS will provide real-time answers to important questions that a robust safety monitoring system should ask:
By delivering timely answers to these and many other questions, SWANS meets an important FAA and industry requirement for improved tracking of risk events, and contributes to meeting the NASA technical milestone to monitor and assess terminal area safety.
SWANS contributes to meeting the System Wide Safety Project milestone to monitor and assess terminal area safety margins. Immediate benefits come from assisting NASA’s support of airline efforts to recovery safely from the pandemic. SWANS offers the In-Time Aviation Safety Management System a near-term safety monitoring and assessment system for traditional operations and an extensible infrastructure for integrating non-traditional operations as they enter the NAS.
The FAA has a requirement for a system that tracks many risk events and provides timely alerts when risky events become more frequent. SWANS offers a solution to that FAA requirement. The SWANS monitoring tool can be delivered directly to airlines and operators for timely use in safety analysis, flight planning, operations monitoring decision making, and flight crew/dispatcher training.
To provide significant improvements in aircraft fuel/energy economy and emissions, electric aircraft are being developed with a current commercial market of $7.9 Billion in 2021 with predicted growth to $27.7 Billion by 2030. Per NASA 2020-I SBIR A1.04 Electrified Aircraft Propulsion (EAP), thermal management systems (TMS) are needed which can be scaled to high power required to make EAP technologies compelling. In Phase I, ThermAvant (TAT) demonstrated a novel additively manufactured (AM) TMS based on company's flagship product the structurally embedded Oscillating Heat Pipe (OHP). The key advantages of this AM-OHP are (1) Exceptional passive thermal transport capacity (> 4kW/kg) as compared with alternative solutions, (2) 50% mass reduction compared with solid control, significantly more when compared with active cooling alternatives, (3) >3x reduction in design cycle and manufacturing time, (4) performance independent of gravity, and (5) thermal performance insensitivity to variable distribution of heat sources (electronics) provides flexibility to EAP electronic systems design.
Advanced Air Transport Technology (AATT) program within Aero Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)
Minute Man Missile
Small eVTOL aircraft
This NASA SBIR Phase II proposal presents an unprecedented laser micro additive manufacturing system for making Stirling heat engine regenerators, by using a pulsed fiber laser and beam shaping technology. It is the enabling technology for manufacturing fine structures with micron precision. With our successful history in AM and SM processing, this proposal has a great potential to succeed. A proof of concept demonstration has been carried out and samples were delivered to NASA during Phase 1. Prototypes in compliant with the Stirling heat engine system requirement will be delivered at the end of Phase II.
In addition to NASA’s heat engine components manufacturing, the proposed pulsed laser AM process can also be used in other applications, such as space vehicle, aircraft, and satellite manufacturing. PolarOnyx will develop a series of products to meet various requirements for commercial/military deployments.
3D printing uses various technologies for building the products for all kinds of applications from foods, toys to rockets and cars. The global market for 3D Printing is projected to reach US$49 billion by the year 2028, driven by the advent of newer technologies, approaches, and applications.
QmagiQ proposes to develop and deliver to NASA a multi-spectral infrared camera covering a broad range of wavelengths from 1 micron to 16 microns. A key feature is a broadband high-quantum-efficiency strained layer superlattice focal plane array (SLS FPA) with spectral filters integrated directly on the FPA – a design that allows the camera to be very compact. The spectroscopic information provided by the filters will be useful in detecting and identifying a variety of hot and cold targets at great distances and inferring their chemistry.
In Phase I, we developed a SLS FPA with cutoff wavelength exceeding 14 microns, quantum efficiency of 20-30%, operating temperature of 68K, and excellent array uniformity, pixel operability and image stability. In Phase II, we will extend cutoff wavelength past 16 microns, expand array format to 1Kx1K, integrate filters onto the FPA, and package the FPA/filter assembly into a compact camera equipped for remote stand-alone operation.
The camera will be valuable to NASA for space telescopes (where its much higher operating temperature compared to Si BIB detectors offers longer operating life) and for Earth and Planetary Science Decadal Survey priorities like infrared sounding. In addition to detecting, tracking and chemically analyzing fires, a drone equipped with such a multi-spectral camera can also be used to monitor and analyze vegetation, forests, crops, industrial gas leaks, and pollution.
1) Space-based astronomy, e.g. future versions of the Spitzer Space Telescope
2) Infrared sounding
3) Detection, tracking and chemical analysis of fires and gas leaks
4) Mapping and analysis of forests and vegetation
5) LANDSAT Thermal InfraRed Sensor (TIRS)
4) Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO)
6) BOReal Ecosystem Atmosphere Study (BOREAS)
7) Other infrared earth observing missions
8) Atmospheric mapping
9) Pollution chemistry
1) Gas leak detection and identification for the petrochemical, gas, and mining industries
2) Crop health monitoring and analysis
3) Missile detection for countermeasures systems
5) Product inspection for pharmaceutical and agricultural industries
6) Security and surveillance
The objective is to develop and implement an S-band communication transmitter/radio capable of operation at extreme high temperatures and pressures in hostile and corrosive environments such as those found on the surface of Venus. This extreme environment transmitter/radio will be based on our Phase I prototype 500oC capable S-band power amplifier microwave integrated circuit (MIC) which employ SSVDTM devices. For this proposed Phase II SBIR program, a SSVD™-based MIC wireless transmitter including voltage controlled oscillator, upconverter, digital to analog converter, etc. will be developed, implemented, characterized and tested. We shall further develop in Phase II the innovative microwave circuit configuration and enabling passive circuit components developed in Phase I. We shall also further develop and integrate the Phase I prototype power amplifier in a package/enclosure suitable for high temperature, high pressure extreme environment applications such as found on the surface of Venus. In addition to being lightweight and low mass, the innovative microwave circuit configuration enables higher performance. SSVDTMs have high reliability and long lifetimes including at high temperatures. We anticipate the Venus transmitter based on the Phase I innovations and our SSVDTMs will last for years and support NASA’s studies for the Venus exploration including VEXAG and LLISSE. The Phase II hardware will first be tested at our facility and then followed by 500oC high pressure and corrosive environment and ageing testing and studies including testing at NASA GEER. We shall use materials that can survive and are Venus surface and environment compatible. Our innovative s microwave circuit configuration and enabling passive circuit components will also address the manufacturability of the MIC suitable for the Venus environment and ensure the transmitter/radio can operate in the extreme environment of the Venus surface without requiring additional protection.
Anticipated outcomes and applications include long-life robust and reliable extreme environment communications and electronics for NASA missions including for lander to Venus. Once this 500oC transmitter is developed, there will be a family of RF and microwave integrated circuits and associated subsystems suitable for communications, radar and related systems that can operate in extreme environment including Venus missions including VEXAG and LLISSE, atmospheric probes for giant planets and other missions which need extreme environment systems.
Potential commercial and defense applications include computing, signal processing, power electronics, radar, RF transceivers in harsh environments including high to extreme temperatures and uncooled electronics for satellite communications, nuclear facilities, power plants, scientific research communities, material and geothermal processing industries, etc. including corrosive ambients.
HazNet is a robust hazard detection solution that leverages deep learning and hardware acceleration to achieve mission-speed performance on path-to-flight hardware. The HazNet solution seeks to maximize data use while maintaining flexibility by leveraging the independent strengths of LiDAR and camera data to produce a single hazard map. Flexibility is maintained by using two independent convolutional neural networks for computation, one for LiDAR data and one for image data, which are combined into an existing hazard map to improve knowledge, resolve unknown regions, and increase hazard map resolution. This method de-risks the transition from traditional hazard detection to deep learning-based algorithms by leveraging well-proven, rather than experimental models to identify hazards. It improves upon these traditional methods by acting on the strengths of complimentary sensors, enabled by hardware acceleration. Astrobotic proposes the development of a prototype sensor package for HazNet, while further advancing developed hazard detection models and techniques. This Phase II effort will entail five major efforts: working in collaboration with NASA and Astrobotic stakeholders to develop a reference mission and associated requirements; advancement of models developed in the Phase I effort to incorporate uncertainty and combine hazard map outputs; development and testing of custom sensor package; demonstration in a series of relevant simulations; and a final technology demonstration across a descent-like scenario in a lunar-relevant environment.
Generally speaking, as NASA targets increasingly complex and challenging landing scenarios on the Moon, asteroids, Mars, icy moons, and beyond, the Agency and its commercial contractors will be looking for flexible systems like HazNet which utilize as much data as possible and as little hardware as possible to produce accurate landing solutions. HazNet will be a valuable tool not only for future CLPS missions, but also for NASA’s forthcoming Artemis landings, which are also targeting rugged polar sites.
An increasing number of safety-critical aerospace components are being produced by additive manufacturing (AM). Specific NASA missions with AM components include the Artemis Program's Orion Spacecraft and the Space Launch System. Reliable qualification of finished AM parts is needed for safety-critical aerospace applications, as only fully inspected parts can be certified for flight. In a previous NASA SBIR project, we demonstrated the feasibility of meeting this need by applying laser ultrasonic testing (LUT) for nondestructive evaluation of each AM deposited layer in real time as it is formed. This in-line inspection qualifies the part layer-by-layer, directs defect removal during the manufacturing process, and ensures qualified finished parts that require no further testing. In this project we are developing a new type of laser ultrasonic sensor that will greatly improve the state of the art in inspection performance, leading to improved suppression of mechanical and acoustical disturbances, and also enabling the implementation of a simpler and more agile beam setup and probe design. Such performance improvements will escalate the motivation for AM stakeholders to include the use of LUT in in-line inspection. The Phase II tasks are anticipated to result in enhanced signal processing algorithms and software, a more agile probe, faster adaptive crystal response, and effective integration of LUT in-line inspection into a commercial AM machine.
Additive manufacturing (AM) is finding broad applications by NASA and its contractors for the fabrication of high-value, safety-critical components. The enhanced in-line AM inspection system described in this project will enable the production of fully qualified AM parts to be used in the Orion Spacecraft and the Space Launch System. The technology is aligned with the NASA Space Technology Roadmaps, and addresses the needs described in the recent NASA memorandum "Nondestructive Evaluation of Additive Manufacturing."
In addition to the space industry, other industries that are adopting AM include military and commercial aviation, and automotive and consumer products. Aircraft engine suppliers have been investing heavily in capacity for AM parts manufacturing. Key high-value components such as injection nozzles are found multiple times in a turbine engine. The use of AM will reduce engine weight and cost.
This research targets the development of a next-generation crystallographic instrument for definitive mineralogical analysis. CheMinX is an in-situ X-Ray Diffraction and X-Ray Fluorescence (XRD/XRF) instrument suitable for a range of planetary surface explorations including Discovery-class missions and MER class rovers. This instrument will provide quantitative mineralogy and elemental chemistry from rocks and soil samples on Mars, the Moon, Venus, or other rocky or icy bodies, including Small Bodies like asteroids, comets, and smaller moons. This SBIR addresses critical improvements in technology compared to the CheMin XRD instrument on MSL, to enable a smaller more capable planetary instrument. The four major improvements of CheMinX over CheMin are: improved XRD resolution, improved XRF performance, reduced volume, and broader field of application including Small Bodies. Two versions will be developed, a dual-CCD design and a 3D focusing design. This SBIR Phase targets the development of these CheMinX versions to TRL 4/5.
This work inherits from 20+ years of development of advanced XRD systems for planetary and commercial applications by the PI and his collaborators.
Deployment of XRD or XRD/XRF instrument on rocky planets, moons, and Small Bodies as part of a landed mission with an emphasis on surface mineralogy and chemistry.
Remote XRD/XRF analysis of confined samples with a robotic instrument inside a sample curation chamber.
Planetary analog field research.
Next-generation small portable and benchtop XRD/XRF instruments for manual or robotic applications in field and laboratory research and industries such as mining, petroleum, cement, forensics, homeland security, defense, pharmaceutical, etc.
Phase II will begin by defining a system architecture for an AAM-CIP assessment tool capable of (1) data fusion, (2) airspace adaptation data creation, (3) scenario generation, (4) AAM traffic simulation, (5) metric computation, (6) data visualization, and additional capabilities needed for a successful commercial product. Crown will develop and demonstrate an instantiation of the basic architecture for a use case that addresses the main interests of a representative user developing recommendations for vertiport locations and airspace routes considering travel demand, safety, and noise. The top-level system architecture establishes a data flow from user objectives and requirements to a graphical user interface (GUI) that enables the user to assess the impacts of relevant issues and rapidly explore the trade space of alternatives.
The Phase II prototype will include a fully working version of the Airspace Analysis tool developed in Phase I, including a graphical layer for editing vertiport placement, generating routes, and defining AAM airspace. The system architecture will feature a flexible modular capability for product improvements to enhance the capabilities demonstrated in the Phase II prototype. Potential improvements include integration of analytics software; addressing additional community issues such as infrastructure, equity of benefits, and connectivity with other transportation modes; software automation to automatically generate and analyze ranges of inputs and alternatives to map the AAM system trade space or rank alternatives with respect to specified optimization criteria and constraints; integrated exchange of data between models to enable assessment of dependencies across issues; and simulations and displays to present a dynamic real-time or fast-time picture of an AAM operation and its impacts on the population below.
This capability can help guide NASA research opportunities. Analysis enabled by this tool would highlight the challenges and benefits of AAM implementation plans, helping focus R&D and increase the impact of NASA’s contributions. Potential NASA users include:
This capability can support city, state, and local governments interested in implementing AAM to develop robust designs that promote public and economic benefits and successful businesses. Local and state governments can realize a coherent, interoperable business and regulatory environment. AAM operators and infrastructure investors will be able to optimize services and manage risk
We propose the Phase II development of a Laser Absorption Imaging (LAI) diagnostic system, with a design that is specifically optimized for NASA arc jet facilities. This approach exploits advances in high-speed infrared cameras and rapidly tunable lasers to image a range of species in the mid-wave infrared spectral range. The spectral / spatial / temporal data provides needed empirical information. In Phase I, a breadboard system was assembled, and proof of concept measurements conducted to demonstrate temporally and spatially resolved gas property measurements for NO and CO. Specific techniques and components were down selected and risk mitigation strategies developed. In Phase II of the project, we will design and produce a multi-species prototype that will be fully developed and demonstrated at NASA arc jet facilities.
The sensor resulting from this project will be used at NASA arc jet facilities, which support NASA Entry and Descent (ED)/ Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) missions, such as crewed Moon or Mars return missions, high mass Mars landers, and Venus and gas/ice giant probes. Preparing for such missions will require testing and qualification of Thermal Protection Systems (TPS). Arc jet facilities provide the only ground-based simulation of flight entry conditions and are critical to TPS development required for these and other Exploration missions.
Sensors will provide an attractive alternative to existing gas diagnostics for a range of applications. The ability to obtain high-speed, spatially resolved species concentrations and temperature information will be useful for combustion diagnostics, environmental monitoring and industrial processes. Products could be used for rocket engines, burner performance, and monitoring of pollutants.
Spacecraft operators are increasingly exploring distributed mission concepts and moving to more remote regimes, presenting new technical challenges that can be addressed by onboard autonomy capabilities. Onboard planning enables new tasks to be assimilated independently of ground commands, enhancing near-Earth operations and enabling remote operations. Modern sensor algorithms can run locally on spacecraft to detect potential tasks, such as data collection opportunities for civil science missions, or launch events for defense missions. Planning capabilities are needed to prioritize and schedule tasks with overlapping windows of opportunity without the need for human intervention.
Our proposed innovation, which we call Adjutant, is flight software (FSW) for planning that leverages state of the art optimization methods for scalability and relevance to current operations, an open systems approach to plan management from multiple sources, and code generation to simplify mission integration and reduce development time for operators. Adjutant is directly relevant to applications identified in our subtopic, such as missions operating “autonomously and cooperatively at cislunar or more remote destinations” by reducing and eventually eliminating the need for “ground-based semiautonomous scheduling”. Reducing the need for ground-based operations enables more efficient operation of near-Earth constellations, and can be extended to enable persistent remote operations in Cislunar or more remote environments.
Our proposed Phase II extension will develop FSW prototypes of planning, goal monitoring, and plan management applications. In conjunction with our existing FSW applications, Adjutant will enable onboard planning and execution of complex missions, including activities such as station keeping, navigation, and fault recovery. Onboard planning will support missions including Earth science such as Landsat Next, heliophysics such as GDC, and exploration such as LunaNet.
Venus Flagship Mission
Geospace Dynamics Constellation
Solar-Terrestrial Observer for the Response of the Magnetosphere
Earth Observation Missions
Space Development Agency (SDA) National Defense Space Architecture Tracking Layer & Transport Layer
Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)
Cislunar Highway Patrol System (CHPS): remote operations in Cislunar space
Commercial: Enable dynamic replanning in between contact with ground stations
Earth-observing constellation operators, e.g.: Planet, Capella, Hawkeye 360