NASA STTR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-1 T3.01-9864
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Technologies for Space Power and Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Solid-fueled Micro Colloid Thruster

NAME: TDA Research, Inc. NAME: University of Colorado at Boulder
STREET: 12345 W. 52nd Avenue STREET: 572 UCB
CITY: Wheat Ridge CITY: Boulder
STATE/ZIP: CO  80033 - 1916 STATE/ZIP: CO  80309 - 0572
PHONE: (303) 940-2347 PHONE: (303) 492-7110

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
James Nabity
12345 West 52nd Avenue
Wheat Ridge, CO 80212 - 1916
(303) 940-2313

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 3
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Nanosatellites are receiving increased interest since they are proving reliable for surveillance, communication and other space missions. Also, the possibility of launching "constellations" of them offers unique capabilities for low-cost experimentation, sensing and communications in space. In comparison to larger spacecraft, their development time and costs have reduced and their launch costs are low. As a result several agencies have recently launched nanosats to test their ability to perform different missions. Unfortunately, none of these nanosats have had onboard propulsion systems, which would provide greater flexibility to position the satellite throughout the mission. There are several promising thruster concepts for nanosats which could provide attitude control and orbital transfer maneuvers (uN to mN thrust levels, respectively). Of these, the colloid thruster is most attractive since it is highly efficient even when scaled down to the micro scale. However, further development is still needed to meet the power, weight and volume constraints for fitment within a nanosat. Therefore, TDA Research, Inc. and the University of Colorado-Boulder propose to develop a solid-fueled micro colloid thruster. In Phase I we will melt a solid salt and supply it to the micro volcano emitter that will be used in Taylor cone experiments to determine its operating characteristics and evaluate its overall performance.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
This project will develop a solid-propellant micro colloid thruster for use in micro/nanosats, especially those based on the standard 1U CubeSAT configuration. None of the nanosats launched so far have had onboard propulsion, even though it would have been useful for attitude control and to keep the nanosat on a specific flight path. For this reason, the micro colloid thruster system to be developed by TDA will greatly increase nanosat performance and especially, the functionality of constellations of nanosats where precise positioning to one another is extremely important. We will utilize our technical results and Aerojet's thruster manufacturing model to support their marketing of our micro colloid thruster to NASA and other organizations currently developing nanosat systems.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Agencies other than NASA have also been exploring the use of nanosats. For example, the Army Space and Missile Defense Command - Operational Nanosatellite Effect (SMDC-ONE) nanosats were recently launched into Low Earth Orbit and then used to transmit data from one ground station to another throughout the 35 day mission. However, the SMDC-ONE nanosats use permanent magnets for passive attitude control and therefore tumble as they orbit the earth, which compromises signal quality. The nanosats also have no capability to maintain orbit or transfer to a new orbit, which limits their mission duration to weeks rather than months or years if they are used in low earth orbits. Therefore, a near-term product improvement will be to replace the magnets with an active micro thruster system such as the micro colloid thruster proposed herein.

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.)
Maneuvering/Stationkeeping/Attitude Control Devices
Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) and smaller

Form Generated on 11-22-11 13:44