NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 X5.01-8674
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Lunar Surface Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Autonomous Utility Connector for Lunar Surface Systems

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
460 W 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 2320
(212) 966-0661

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jason Herman
460 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001 - 2320
(646) 459-7819

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 3 to 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Lunar dust has been identified as a significant and present challenge in future exploration missions. The interlocking, angular nature of Lunar dust and its broad grain size distribution make it particularly detrimental to mechanisms with which it may come into contact. Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation (HRSMC) seeks to develop a dust-tolerant, autonomous connector to transmit data and power on Lunar surface systems. HRSMC has extensive heritage in developing mechanisms for extreme and dusty environments, including the development of a dust-tolerant electrical connector prototype and a dust-tolerant mechanical connector concept. There are many near-term applications of such a connector including: the utility and electrical connections that will be used on the next-generation Lunar EVA suit, cryogenic utility connections that will be used to pass liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen during in-situ¬ resource utilization (ISRU) activities, and high-power electrical connectors capable of thousands of cycles for Lunar Surface Mobility Unit (LSMU) battery recharge and data transfer. As noted in current Lunar architectural options, human EVA's, long range Lunar rovers, and ISRU activities are on the mission horizon and are paramount to the establishment of a permanent human base on the Moon. In Phase I, HRSMC will baseline prior dust-tolerant connector work to develop a conceptual design for an autonomous, dust-tolerant, re-usable connector to enable electrical transfer between a LSMU and a central resource outpost or a deployed solar power unit. This connector would be easily adaptable to the needs of other Lunar surface system utility connectors required for EVA suits or other systems such as ISRU utility connections. This development path will result in an autonomous Lunar dust-tolerant electrical connector with a TRL level of 3-4 at the end of Phase 1 with a goal of at least TRL 6 at the end of Phase II.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The dust-tolerant autonomous connection mechanism to be developed through this project will be an enabling technology for extended Lunar operations in that they will allow several cycles of utility connection and disconnection for EVA and surface operations. Future mission scenarios involving erectable structures, diverse EVA-compliant tools, Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU)-to-rover or EMU-to-robot interfaces, and other in-situ assembly or interconnection activities will all call for dust-tolerant reusable connectors. In particular, the Constellation LSMU battery recharge connector will require dust-tolerant technology.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Military and homeland security operations are often conducted in uncontrolled environments. An increasing use of high-technology tools provides for improved performance, but also introduces new risks. The incorporation of dust-tolerant reusable connection mechanisms in military couplings will allow greater reliability and flexibility for modular electronics in operational scenarios, especially in dusty, dirty, sandy environments. Incorporation of dust-tolerant connectors would also reduce maintenance, repair, and overhaul costs by reducing select component failures due to degradation by dust and sand. Current connectors meet stringent mil-spec environmental requirements when connected, but the connection itself must be made under relatively clean conditions. We expect that adding a tolerance to making and breaking connections under off-nominal conditions will result in an increased service life for modular electronics for use in military and homeland security applications. There is also broad commercial potential for dust-tolerant reusable connectors in several commercial applications requiring the reliable performance of modular electronics in uncontrolled environments, including oil and gas exploration, first responders and emergency services, heavy and highway construction, and mining. By employing dust-tolerant connectors, rather than attempting to seal dust intolerant connectors against the environment, the connectors used in these applications may be truly ruggedized.

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.

Airlocks/Environmental Interfaces
Earth-Supplied Resource Utilization
Fluid Storage and Handling
Human-Robotic Interfaces
In-situ Resource Utilization
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems
Liquid-Liquid Interfaces
Manned-Maneuvering Units
Modular Interconnects
Portable Life Support
Power Management and Distribution
Testing Facilities

Form Generated on 11-24-08 11:56