NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- B3.01-8478 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023521 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced Spacecraft Life Support
PROPOSAL TITLE: Advanced Microbial Monitoring System for Space Flight Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Luna Innovations Incorporated
2851 Commerce Street
Blacksburg , VA   24060 - 6657
(540 ) 552 - 5128

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Roger VanTassell
2851 Commerce Street
Blacksburg , VA   24060 - 6657
(540 ) 961 - 4502

A critical danger of space flight programs is contamination of the spacecraft environment. Assessing environmental health requires monitoring technologies to mitigate the risk of infectious disease among the crew before, during, and after flights. The danger of infectious diseases in space is amplified by the limited medical facilities available to the crew during a mission. The contained spacecraft environment also increases the likelihood of spreading disease-causing microbes among the crew with potentially catastrophic results. This risk is compounded on missions that utilize reclaimed water. Active, in-flight microbial measurement is required to protect the health of the crew and their environment. The challenge is that any microbial measurement system must address physical and operational limitations imposed by space flight. The Luna Innovations team proposes to develop a system to meet the challenge of microbial monitoring in space. The proposed system utilizes Luna's patented interferometric biosensor technology with novel reagents and Luna's space qualified optical fiber support electronics expertise to monitor microbial contamination. Luna has previously demonstrated biosensors with affinity films for the detection of biological samples, chemicals, and metal ions and will use this experience to ensure near-term market penetration of the proposed system.

The enabling technology platform to be developed during the proposed Phase I program will allow Luna to produce a wide range of products with immediate, near-term and long-term market impact. Research concerning a microbial monitoring system will yield high-resolution, low-cost, portable, multi-target, sensor systems for applications in 1) water quality assessment, 2) environmental monitoring, 3) food safety inspection, 4) process monitoring, 5) bioremediation, and 6) home healthcare monitoring.

Microbial growth of surfaces as well as that in storage containers has been a huge problem for NASA since the onset of space flight. With the proposed longer-term travels as well as extended time in the space station comes an increased problem of human infection. The proposed technology platform will allow NASA to safely monitor microbial growth in long-term space flight environments. Personnel will be able to perform screening tests for surface contamination, water reclamation and decontamination, and food safety to ensure overall personnel health and structural integrity of the space flight vehicle. This technology will also serve as a means to screen decontamination practices performed in space long before overgrowth of organisms becomes a problem.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10