NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 S4.09-8519
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Autonomous Multi-Mission Virtual Ground and Spacecraft Operations
PROPOSAL TITLE: Software-Defined Ground Stations - Enhancing Multi-Mission Support

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
James Cutler
933 N California Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94303 - 3407
(650) 776-7482

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
James Cutler
933 N California Avenue
Palo Alto, CA 94303 - 3407
(650) 776-7482

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 2 to 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
This SBIR Phase 1 proposal to NASA requests $99,055.69 to enhance multiple mission support in ground stations through the use of software defined radios and virtual machines to create a software-defined ground station (SDGS). This proposal responds to NASA SBIR topic S4.09 "Autonomous Multi-Mission Virtual Ground and Spacecraft Operations". The significance of our SDGS work is that the monolithic, stovepipe, and hardware centric nature of ground stations will be reduced. Major system components will be moved to software, thereby promoting remote, network-based maintenance, upgrades, and new technology development. Off the shelf software modules will be available, but also mechanism for low-level ground station customization for mission specifics; all done remotely over the Internet. Costly hardware upgrades will be reduced or eliminated. Our innovation is in the intelligent combination of software-defined radio techniques and virtual machines. This enables a near complete software solution to primary ground station functions. It simplifies ground station hardware and enables flexible application support. In Phase 1 we propose to architect an SDGS system for support of expected small satellite missions. We will prototype basic elements with an on orbit or engineering model satellite system from our partners. Commercial applications include communication support for satellites and high altitude balloon systems. Our customers will include NASA, NSF, DoD, and private satellite builders such as universities and venture space. The PI, Dr. James Cutler, has extensive small satellite and ground station experience. He has prototype a global ground station network to operate satellites as if they were nodes on the Internet. Our facilities located in Northern California have tools for computer and radio development, and access to small satellite systems and ground station resources.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
We have identified several initial NASA customers for our ground station technology. We are partnering with the small satellite office at NASA Ames Research Center. They have launched the Genesat nanosatellite and considering a program that launches one satellite per month. Current NASA ground networks will not be able to support communication requirements for these missions. We are also working with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) to support nanosatellite solar sail mission, CubeSail. They will require networked ground station support for their 2009 mission.
Additionally, NASA's Living With A Star (LWS) Program is developing the Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) space mission that will benefit from global, 24/7 reception of space weather beacons. NASA also intends to broadcast space weather parameters via a real-time beacon from both of the RBSP spacecraft. Space weather beacon data availability will be limited by availability of space weather ground stations and antenna coverage. The availability of an array of geographically-dispersed ground stations capable of providing autonomous 24/7 downlink of the RBSP space weather beacon data at low cost, such as that proposed here, will be critically important the space weather community. The RBSP mission will be an excellent customer for our ground station systems.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
NSF is a potential near term costumer. They have recently announced at the Small Satellite Conference in 2007 that they will be sponsoring several CubeSat launches per year starting roughly in 2009. We anticipate 3 – 10 satellites launched per year in this program. Our multiple mission support technology combined with our FGN concepts will be a crucial enabler for a low-cost operations concept for these NSF missions.
We are also just beginning to explore DoD related opportunities. Our ability to quickly reconfigure and upgrade ground stations through virtual machines updates is key element to responsive space. Not only will launchers and satellites be responsive, but also so must ground stations to respond to changing communication environments.
FEMA may be a potential customer as well. In our high altitude balloon work, we are working with the AeroStar Aerospace Corporation on disaster recovery applications. The balloon will act as a high-speed communication relay for recovery teams. Our multiple mission technology will be useful for both the balloon relay and ground nodes.

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.

Architectures and Networks
Autonomous Control and Monitoring

Form Generated on 09-18-07 17:50