NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Mobile Surface Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE:Lightweight Gearbox Technology

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Starsys Research Corporation
4909 Nautilus Court North
Boulder ,CO 80301 - 3691
(303) 583 - 1400

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jim   Sprunck
4909 Nautilus Court North
Boulder, CO  80301 -3691
(303) 530 - 1925

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Starsys Research has developed a revolutionary new concept for a planetary gearbox that significantly improves the load capacity for any given volume. This concept is based on optimizing both the physical configuration and material selection. While yet to be proven, engineering estimates show load capacity improvements are between five and ten times other standard designs. This improvement in load capacity allow smaller gearboxes to be used for any particular application and thus reduce the system mass.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The evolution of the Mars rovers has highlighted the need for reducing the weight of the standard planetary gearboxes that are used throughout the system. Because of the pervasive use of these gearboxes they compose a significant portion of the overall mass of the rover. As next generation rovers are becoming larger the importance of reducing gearbox mass is becoming critical.
To date, the majority of the gearboxes used on the rovers have been based on very conventional materials, process and designs. This has primarily been a result of the fast paced schedules associated with rover development. With little time for recovery, these programs are extremely risk adverse and the idea of developing new technology on the program is absolutely impractical.
This is the underlying motivation for performing this proposed research effort at this time. As there is no rover planned for the 2007 there is a longer than normal dwell between rover programs. The hope is to capitalize on this time to advance the technology used on the common gearboxes employed on the rover. This will allow new technology to be introduced into the gearbox designs. As the current Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover design is potentially mass critical, lightweight gearboxes may be enabling technology for the mission.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This investigation will have far reaching effects on basic mechanism designs that employ planetary gearboxes. Planetary gearboxes are commonly used on deployable structures, covers and doors, hinges and instruments. Reducing the weight of these common gearboxes will provide significant mass reduction for these subsystems. While this particular effort is focused at the requirements for the MSL rover the results will be applicable to the majority of spacecraft mechanism applications.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52