NASA SBIR 02-1 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:02- S4.02-8438 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 023561 )
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Planetary Mobility and Robotics, Sub-Surface Access, and Autonomous Control Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: SPHERES-derived Mars Orbiting Sample Retrieval Testbed (SPHERES MOSR)

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
247 Third Street
Cambridge , MA   02142 - 1129
(617 ) 868 - 8086

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Joe Parrish
247 Third Street
Cambridge , MA   02142 - 1129
(617 ) 868 - 8086

We propose to modify the Synchronized Position Hold Engage Re-orient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) system to support the development of Mars orbiting sample retrieval (MOSR) techniques for a Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission. The SPHERES system, an innovative spacecraft flight testbed developed by Payload Systems Inc. and the MIT Space Systems Laboratory, is currently scheduled for its first mission aboard the International Space Station in May 2003 to demonstrate metrology, formation flying, and autonomy algorithms. The effort proposed here would adapt the SPHERES system for a follow-on mission to the ISS to serve as a testbed for MSR autonomous software technologies, including target search, acquisition, rendezvous, and capture operations as would be involved in the retrieval of a sample lofted into Mars orbit. The MSR mission has been proposed for the NASA Mars Exploration Program, and, if approved, would be conducted sometime in the second decade of this century. The autonomous retrieval of the orbiting sample (OS) is one of the most technically complex and risky aspects of the MSR mission. The SPHERES MOSR testbed would streamline OS retrieval algorithm and hardware development, and significantly reduce the risk of this critical MSR mission operation.

The market for the SPHERES MOSR testbed has three components. NASA JPL is the primary customer in the context of implementing the MSR mission. The second market component is for other participants in the MSR mission, particularly the French space agency CNES, which is considering providing the MSR return spacecraft (including a US-developed docking/capture system) as part of its contribution to the Mars Exploration Program. Finally, other US agencies and companies are involved in autonomous rendezvous and docking operations for missions other than MSR?for example, the DARPA Orbital Express program.

Potential applications exist for any NASA programs involved with on-orbit cooperative spacecraft, including distributed spacecraft systems and on-orbit rendezvous and docking. This testbed has the potential for numerous missions on the ISS, and experiment time (or even additional testbeds) may be provided under cooperative arrangements between the developers and sponsoring agencies.

Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10