NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 O3.02-9651
PROPOSAL TITLE: SPHERES/Universal ISS Battery Charging Station

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation
9950 Wakeman Drive
Manassas, VA 20110 - 2702
(617) 500-0536

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John Merk
1 Broadway, 12th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142 - 1189
(617) 500-0281

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
With the retiring of the shuttle fleet, up-mass and down-mass to ISS are at a premium. The space station itself has a limited lifecycle as well, thus long-term and/or high-risk development programs pose issues for science 'return on investment', if the technology cannot be adequately matured before the station is decommissioned. Thus innovative systems and technologies that minimize impact on limiting resources such as up-mass and down-mass, and can do so in the near- to mid-term, are highly desirable. One such area includes the various rechargeable battery systems on ISS used extensively for cameras, camcorders, laptops, communication systems and other portable science and diagnostic equipment.

All new rechargeable batteries intended for use on ISS must undergo an extensive and costly qualification process, to ensure they meet safety criteria for charge, discharge, short-circuit, temperature, containment and other parameters. The associated recharging systems must also undergo rigorous safety analysis before obtaining flight approval. To alleviate this requirement, new battery powered equipment for ISS is often selected based on legacy technology already approved for crewed-space applications, and not on operational need. The use of shared battery resources (battery packs, battery chargers or both), for future ISS payloads could reduce or eliminate the time and cost needed to obtain battery system safety approval, and reduce the burden on valuable up-mass resources.

A common (universal) battery charging system for ISS, with the flexibility to accommodate current and future rechargeable battery requirements for payloads and equipment, could reduce the cost use of the ISS by future payload developers. This would not only simplify the safety and integration process for these programs, but also reduce up-mass by making use of existing ISS resources.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed innovation serves to increase the science capability of ISS, by enabling the extended use of SPHERES and other battery-operated facilities. The establishment of the ISS as a National Laboratory has significantly enhanced the accessibility of its facilities to organizations outside of NASA and the DOD, including other governmental agencies, research institutions and commercial entities. The universal charger enables use of these facilities beyond the retirement of the shuttle.

On the government side, the development of a universal charger forms the basis for space research that is at the core of NASA and the DOD. The proposed system provides an upgrade to existing ISS facilities to greatly increase the lifetime of onboard assets. The addition of a universal charger to the SPHERES testbed and other facilities allows for increased research capabilities.

SPHERES itself has multiple applications: it is a precursor to technology maturation for inspection satellites for ISS and other manned and unmanned NASA vehicles. Its forthcoming visual-based navigation system enables algorithm development in support of new applications such as standoff cameras for unmanned systems, imaging terminal capture for mars sample return missions, and will support a constantly changing workspace during robotic assembly and servicing missions. All of these applications will require additional battery systems and could benefit from the use of a universal charging system for ISS.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
DoD applications include the enabled use of ISS research facilities for multiple purposes. Additionally, opportunities may exist in the commercial, institutional and government sectors to 'sell' test time on SPHERES (and other ISS facilities that have been enabled by this innovation) to organizations for developing and validating vision and assembly capability for future satellite applications. This service could be analogous to the way in which the National Testing Service (NTS) provides facility rental and support for both commercial entities and institutions. Table 1 shows projected return on investment for selling SPHERES test time on ISS. Since SPHERES is the only known long duration, microgravity test facility for the development of satellite maneuvering algorithms, an opportunity exists to extend usage of this testbed to organizations outside of NASA.

While the proposed innovation itself is not expected to be commercially profitable as a stand-alone item, it enables future researchers to reduce ISS payload development costs, and reduces up-mass overhead for future launches to ISS, thus creating a significant return on investment.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Algorithms/Control Software & Systems (see also Autonomous Systems)
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing
Relative Navigation (Interception, Docking, Formation Flying; see also Control & Monitoring; Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12