NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 S4.01-9541
SUBTOPIC TITLE: De-orbit Devices/Technologies for Small Spacecraft
PROPOSAL TITLE: Scalable, Lightweight, Low-Cost Aero/Electrodynamic Drag Deorbit Module

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Tethers Unlimited
11711 N. Creek Pkwy S., Suite D113
Bothell, WA 98011 - 8808
(425) 486-0100

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Hoyt
11711 N. Creek Pkwy S., Suite D113
Bothell, WA 98011 - 8808
(425) 486-0100

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The proposed effort will develop the "Terminator Tape Deorbit Module", a lightweight, low-cost, scalable de-orbit module that will utilize both aerodynamic drag enhancement and electrodynamic drag to rapidly remove small satellites from LEO altitudes, enabling compliance with orbital lifetime restrictions such as NSS 1740.14 and DoD Instruction 3100.12, Sec. 6.4. Unlike de-orbit devices that rely solely upon aerodynamic drag, which provide no significant reduction in the probability of collision with another space object during orbital lifetime, the Terminator Tape's generation of electrodynamic drag can dramatically reduce the Area-Time-Product of the system, minimizing chances of debris-generating collisions. The proposed Terminator Tape design utilizes space-qualified materials, requires only standard pyro signals from the host spacecraft for activation, requires no internal avionics, and its deployment method has already been demonstrated successfully in microgravity. It can also accommodate installation of solar cells or other devices on its surface to minimize footprint impacts on small spacecraft. It can also be configured to serve as a multifunctional element, acting as multi-layer insulation (MLI). Positive control of de-orbit timing is provided through a simple actuation requiring only a pyro signal. The device is readily scalable from picosats up to large spacecraft, and in the proposed effort, we will develop a flight ready prototype sized for testing on a CubeSat as well as detailed designs of modules sized for 15 kg nanosats and 100 kg microsats. We will also investigate and test innovative methods for maximizing electrodynamic current, including photoemissive and low-work-function thermoelectric materials. These Phase I efforts will prepare us to perform a flight test on a CubeSat or other low cost platform in the Phase II effort.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The Terminator Tape will enable NASA small satellite programs to comply with end-of-mission orbital lifetime requirements such as NASA Safety Standard 1740.14, and do so with minimal cost, mass, and technical risks.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The Terminator Tape will enable all commercial spacecraft launched into LEO to comply with FCC requirements for end-of-mission orbital lifetime limits in a cost-effective manner. We have received an offer to fly a flight demonstration of a Terminator Tape module on an upcoming mission, and one satellite prime has baselined the Terminator Tape as the de-orbit method for a high-profile government-funded mission.

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.)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 12:12