NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Spacecraft Technology for Micro/Nanosats
PROPOSAL TITLE:Real Time Control Software for Electromagnetic Formation Flight

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

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

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
We propose the development of a maintainable and evolvable real-time control software system for Electromagnetic Formation Flight (EMFF). EMFF systems use high-temperature, superconducting electromagnets to control the relative positions and orientations between two or more formation-flying satellites without using expendable, and possibly contaminating propellant. Eventual applications for EMFF range from X-ray astronomy missions, such as XEUS, MAXIM and Gen-X, to extra-solar planetary science, such as Terrestrial Planet Finder-Interferometer, to vehicle inspection systems for long duration exploration missions.
The current EMFF control software was developed as a laboratory exercise, and is not scalable or appropriate for use in a flight environment. The proposed software effort will use a model-based development approach, using executable models to define the EMFF control algorithms, command and data handling behaviors and other system behaviors, and an elaboration of the software architecture defined during Phase I in the form of model translation tools, scripts and procedures, to produce flight-qualifiable EMFF avionics software.
The developed software products will be extensible and adaptable for future EMFF applications. Initial testing will be on EMFF hardware developed for a related DARPA program and loaned to this effort at no cost to the SBIR program.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
EMFF has applications in planned future space telescopes such as MAXIM, TPF-I, Life Finder, GEN-X, XEUS, UVOI (Stellar Imager), FISI (SPECS), as well as in telescope assembly where it provides a propellant-less method for assembling hexagonal facets of a large primary mirror by using two EMFF space tugs, eliminating propellant contamination concerns.
EMFF applications for low-earth orbit solutions include mitigation of differential J2 geo-potential perturbations for close proximity formations, maintenance of non-Keplerian formations, control of sparse aperture Earth-observing radar systems, and control of single spacecraft slewing and pointing control against Earth's magnetic field.
Applications also exist for future exploration systems, including propellant-less inspection vehicle for long duration missions to Mars, tending of orbital fuel depots, docking and jettison of modules in a geometrically reconfigurable spacecraft, and electromagnetic rail gun for de-orbiting cargo enroute to the lunar surface.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Non-NASA applications for EMFF technology include: using the high-temperature superconducting (HTS) coils to create high authority torque coils for single spacecraft in low-earth-orbit; transferring power between spacecraft spinning up energy storage flywheels on one spacecraft and using HTS coils on another; using the coils in a passive offensive mode where charged particles from the thrusters of another vehicle can be redirected to impinge upon that vehicle; using the coils in a passive defensive mode where they are used to distort the Earth's magnetic field in the vicinity of the spacecraft and thereby confuse magnetic sensors on other local spacecraft; holding occulters and sun shields in the proximity of a parent vehicle; stacking GEO assets in the direction normal to the orbital plane; provide slewing and attitude control for large cable-tensioned structures; and diversion of high energy charged particles to help protect sensitive avionics.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52