NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Materials Science for In-Space Fabrication and Radiation Protection
PROPOSAL TITLE:Improved Lunar and Martian Regolith Simulant Production

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The technical objective of the Phase II project is to provide a more complete investigation of the long-term needs of the simulant community based on the updated NASA outline for exploration, including potential landing site designations, the types of technologies currently funded for research, and timelines for future development. Using this information, a number of prototype simulants will be created and analyzed for their ability to meet individual application requirements. If successful, each prototype simulant could then be produced on a larger scale through a Phase III contract or by a privately funded commercial effort. The current simulants to be addressed by the Phase II include a spherical glass inclusion JSC-1a derivative for improved physical lunar mare characteristics, a terrestrially produced lunar agglutinate inclusion JSC-1a derivative for true chemical and mechanical property simulation, a lunar highlands simulant for simulation of over 80% of the lunar surface, and improved JSC Mars-1a simulant to meet the immediate needs for Martian experimentation and testing. We anticipate that through these four prototypes, the majority of the needs of the scientific and engineering communities can be met with a high degree of fidelity, improving NASA's ability to successfully explore the Moon and Mars.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Significant research and testing is crucial for successful robotic and human long duration lunar or Martian missions. Over the next decade, NASA will develop techniques for in-space fabrication of critical path components, transportation and habitation equipment, health and reliability of advanced life support systems, and processes for in situ resource utilization. These projects, including currently funded programs, require lunar and Martian regolith simulants of the highest fidelity possible. To meet this immediate demand, NASA approved a Phase III contract for ORBITEC to produce the lunar simulant JSC-1a in late 2005. Unfortunately, NASA's future needs demand next generation simulants that better support key technical requirements. Well characterized simulants that match landing site requirements (such as highlands or Martian prototypes) or better match physical properties (such as agglutinate simulant or spherical glass inclusion simulant) will improve NASA's ability to successful explore the moon and Mars.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The commercial production and distribution of improved lunar and Martian simulants is a goal of both the scientific and NASA community. This approach provides improved access and tracking of simulant users, both scientific and educational. ORBITEC is currently funding the commercial production of fifteen tons of the lunar simulant JSC-1a, which we anticipate to quickly sell due to its tremendous appeal for schools and outreach programs. The simulant will be added to PLANET's (ORBITEC's sister company) line of plant growth kits, along with a new line of chemistry and geology experiments. Other educational supply companies have already placed orders for material as well, and several leading distribution companies have expressed interest in carrying simulant products as soon as they are available. In addition to education, programs such as Centennial Prize and commercial space ventures have energized interest in space exploration, space tourism, and marketing of space souvenirs and displays.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52