NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- B3.07-8790 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023209 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Biomass Production for Planetary Missions
PROPOSAL TITLE: Deployable Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE)

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Orbital Technologies Corp
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison , WI   53717 - 1961
(608 ) 827 - 5000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert C. Morrow
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison , WI   53717 - 1961
(608 ) 827 - 5000

ORBITEC proposes to develop a deployable facility called the Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE) to produce vegetable (salad) crops to supplement prepackaged foods during long stays in space. The innovation of the VEGGIE is in providing, within a single middeck locker, a plant growing facility with a growing area of 0.5 m2 to 1.0m2, a light source sufficiently intense for crop production, a compressible nutrient and water delivery system, and a semi-passive atmospheric control system that minimizes water use without limiting gas exchange. The system would be deployed using supports composed of telescoping beams, inflatable beams, or tension rods. To minimize complexity, VEGGIE would utilize the cabin environment for temperature control and as a source of CO2. The primary goals are to provide the crew with a palatable, nutritious and safe source of fresh food and to provide the crew with a tool for relaxation and recreation. VEGGIE could be used on the ISS as well as for planetary transit missions. Project objectives are to develop mechanisms to transition the VEGGIE from a small stowed configuration to a large growing area configuration, to develop a stowable lighting system and a compressible root zone, and to evaluate crop growth in the system.

One potential commercial application for the Deployable Vegetable Production System would be in the area of horticulture therapy which is practiced in facilities for the aged, rehabilitation hospitals and clinics, prisons, and other settings where psychological and/or physical therapy is required. Nursing homes and elderly care centers have been shown to particularly benefit from horticulture therapy and the VEGGIE could provide a low-cost, easy to use (including handicap accessibility) tool in this therapy. Another potential use is in pre-college and college level science classes. Other terrestrial applications include use as an inexpensive residential or business decorative display or recreational garden. Advantages over existing growing small systems include the ability to store it in a very small volume so it can be easily transported between locations or put out of the way when not in use, and the novelty of an expanding plant growth system.

In the very near term, VEGGIE could be utilized as a recreational facility aboard the ISS, providing a ?hobby? for interested crew and also providing a small amount of fresh vegetables with little impact to ISS resources. It could also be easily used in habitat analogs (Arctic bases, closed chamber tests, etc.). Longer term, VEGGIE could provide a significant level of diet supplementation, improve habitat aesthetics, and provide an outlet for personal creativity. Because the system can be stowed in a very small volume, it would be efficient to transport to a Lunar or Mars base. In all cases, if vehicle internal volume becomes stressed (e.g. visiting crew, increased work load) the VEGGIE can be easily collapsed and stowed away. The VEGGIE could help fulfill NASA?s requirements for increasing the habitability of long duration stays in space by providing a reliable, low resource use plant growth system.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 17:22