NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Terrestrial Balloon Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE:Stratospheric Deployment Parafoil

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood, CO 80215-5516
(303) 980-0890

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert   Zubrin
11111 W. 8th Avenue, Unit A
Lakewood, CO  80215-5516
(303) 980-0890

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Stratospheric Deployment Parafoil is a proposed technology that will be designed and tested to provide a greatly superior parachute precision delivery system under thin atmosphere conditions, including Mars entry. Current systems incorporate a parachute which lacks the controllability necessary for precision landing. The non-controllable parachutes act only as a delivery system but afford no way to direct the parachute descent. The new technology will eliminate the uncontrollable system and, rather than using a round parachute variant, will have a high L/D parafoil capable of precision control and landing. This controllable parafoil will have a multistage deployment sequence which will accomplish high speed, even supersonic parachute deployment with the parachute in a reefed condition. The first stage of the deployment will approximate a conical ribbon parachute which will slow the system to subsonic speeds. Once the system has slowed sufficiently, subsequent stages of the deployment will transition the non-controllable parachute to a fully controllable, precision-landing parafoil.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The primary initial purpose of the Stratospheric Deployment Parafoil is to enable precision landings in both thin atmospheric terrestrial and extraterrestrial applications. The SDP can be used for NASA missions requiring precision recovery of payloads from stratospheric balloons and low Earth orbit. Such payloads could range from small scientific capsules to manned vehicles like the CEV.
The SDP can also be used to enable precision landings on Mars of near term robotic Mars missions. Many human Mars mission scenarios also require precision surface rendezvous capabilities, and a support of a human Mars base absolutely will need them, since otherwise return visits to the same base will be impossible. Therefore development of the SDP provides a critical technology not only for the ongoing robotic Mars exploration program, but for realizing the presidents Vision for Space Exploration as well.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The SDP could be used to enable precision delivery of supplies from aircraft to the surface using parafoils. Such application is of great interest for both military missions and disaster relief. The SDP is also an extremely attractive technology for enabling high speed aircraft to deploy low speed devices such as battle damage assessment UAVs. SDPs could also be used for life saving of both pilots and passengers who could be forced to bail out from aircraft at speeds that would create opening shocks which exceed the strength of normal parafoils. For this reason, round parachutes have thus far been used for such applications, but parafoils would offer their users a better chance of avoiding dangerous objects on the ground. The SDP would make this possible.
The system could also be used by High Altitude High Opening Special Forces paratroopers. The opening shock of a parachute at high altitude on a soldier who is heavily laden and falling very quickly in thin air is very high. The SDP could be used comfortably on HAHO mission, while allowing the paratrooper the mobility of a parafoil instead of a round parachute.
Commercial space ventures utilizing reentry vehicles can use this technology to recover their capsules. There is currently a considerable interest in high altitude ballooning for edge-of-space and ballistic rocket planes for suborbital tourism. The SDP could be used for the recovery of such vehicles or as a safety device in case of structural failure.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.


Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19