NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER:03-E2.02-7276 (For NASA Use Only - Chron: 035731)
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Guidance, Navigation and Control
PROPOSAL TITLE:Development of a Tethered Formation Flight Testbed for ISS

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
PAYLOAD SYSTEMS INC.
247 Third Street
Cambridge ,MA 02142 - 0000
(617) 868 - 8086

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Steven   Sell
sell@payload.com
247 Third Street
Cambridge ,MA  02142 -0000
(617) 868 - 8086
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
The development of a testbed for the development and demonstration of technologies needed by tethered formation flying satellites is proposed. Such a testbed would support dynamic modeling and control algorithm development for missions such as NASA?s Submillimeter Probe of the Evolution of Cosmic Structure (SPECS) mission. The testbed would be based on the successful Synchronized Position Hold Engage Re-orient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) system that has been developed and is being flown on-board the International Space Station. As part of its first flight, SPHERES will demonstrate metrology, formation flight, and autonomy algorithms. The effort proposed here would adapt the SPHERES system first for ground testing and subsequently for a follow-on mission to the ISS to serve as a testbed for Tethered Spacecraft Interferometer (TSI) autonomous software technologies. Tethers are being considered as the means for maneuvering sub-apertures spacecraft in order to eliminate reliance on propellant consumables. The SPHERES-Tether testbed would aid in streamlining the development of spacecraft formation initialization and deployment and retraction algorithm development, and significantly reduce the risk involved with testing this critical SPECS mission operation, including coarse spacecraft formation initialization, deployment and retraction, and multi-stage precision pointing control.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
The market for the SPHERES-Tether testbed has two components. NASA is the primary customer in the context of developing and operating the SPECS mission. The second component are government agencies, including the USAF and DARPA, which also have in development missions that utilize multiple spacecraft, such as the DARPA Orbital Express program. These programs will have need for many of the technologies that will be developed as part of SPHERES-Tether. Because SPHERES-Tether is extraordinarily inexpensive relative to other spaceflight and associated ground research systems, we believe that these programs would find it a useful technology development tool.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 150 WORDS)
The major application for the proposed SPHERES-Tether technology is the NASA Submillimeter Probe of the Evolution of Cosmic Structure program. Other potential applications exist for any NASA program 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.