NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- A5.03-8079 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023920 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Nuclear and Exotic Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Technologies for Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic-Reboost Tether Facilities

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Tethers Unlimited
19011 36th Ave W. Suite F
Lynnwood , WA   98036 - 5752
(425 ) 744 - 0400

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Hoyt
8114 Pebble Ct.
Clinton , WA   98036 - 5752
(425 ) 744 - 0400

A modular Momentum-Exchange/Electrodynamic-Reboost (MXER) tether system can provide a fully-reusable in-space propulsion system that can provide propellantless propulsion for orbital transfer, Earth-to-Orbit launch assist, and reboost of LEO spacecraft such as the ISS. By eliminating the need to launch large quantities of transfer propellant into orbit for each payload, a MXER tether system can greatly reduce the size and cost of the launch vehicle needed for each payload, and thus it can help achieve the several-orders-of-magnitude launch cost decreases needed to enable widespread commercialization of space. MXER tether systems will require several innovations, including survivable tether structures with both high-strength and conducting materials, methods for controlling electrodynamic spin-up and reboost while maintaining dynamic stability, and an architecture that can enable capabilities to be increased and qualified in a modular, incremental manner. In the proposed effort, TUI will develop designs to address all three of these needs, and develop a concept design for a low-cost flight experiment, the ?Microsatellite Tethered Orbit Raising QUalification Experiment? (?TORQUE), which will enable flight validation of these MXER Tether technologies.

The proposed modular MXER tether technologies will enable the development of Tether Boost Facilities able to provide propellantless propulsion for a wide range of in-space commercial applications. MXER Tether Boost Facilities will provide orbit-to-orbit transfer of commercial satellites both within LEO and from LEO to GEO. An Earth-to-Orbit Tether Launch Assist facility will enable commercial single-stage Reusable Launch Vehicles to achieve useful payload fractions and reduce the cost of ETO launch down to the range of $500/kg. The commercialization potential of MXER tether technologies is evidenced by a recent $15,000 R&D contract awarded to TUI by a commercial aerospace company to investigate MXER Tether Launch Assist concepts.

The modular MXER tether technologies will provide propellantless propulsion for NASA and DoD applications such as reboost of the International Space Station, transfer of Orbital Express propellant tanks from LEO drop-off-orbits to propellant depots in higher orbits, delivery of multiple solar power satellite modules from LEO to GEO, and boosting of science payloads from LEO to the Moon and Mars.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10