NASA SBIR 2014 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 14-1 Z20.01-8807
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Deep Space Cubesat Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: LunarCube for Deep Space Missions

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Busek Company Inc.
11 Tech Circle
Natick, MA 01760 - 1023
(508) 655-5565

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kurt Hohman
11 Tech Circle
Natick, MA 01760 - 1023
(508) 655-5565

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Judy Budny
11 Tech Circle
Natick, MA 01760 - 1023
(508) 655-5565

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

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Deep Space Cubesat Technology is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Busek Co., Inc. and Morehead State University propose to develop a 6U CubeSat capable of reaching a lunar orbit from GEO. The primary objective is to demonstrate heretofore unavailable high Isp(~3000s) with a small and very efficient ion thruster. A mission to the moon will demonstrate a propulsion technology that enables a variety of other deep space missions. Unlike the well-known and much larger DC ion thrusters flown on missions such as Deep Space 1 and Dawn, the proposed thruster is powered by an inductively coupled RF discharge with condensable propellant. The chosen propellant is stored as a high-density solid at room temperature with minimal vapor pressure. Such property enables the storage tank to be small, lightweight and moldable for maximizing propellant volume. These benefits are further realized by the use of Busek's miniature RF ion thruster (RFIT) system.
Busek's ion thrusters were developed to answer the need for a small yet high-performance EP device, as their DC counterparts are difficult to scale down and achieve long life due to the internal cathode. The BRFIT-3 thruster proposed for the LunarCube has a 3cm grid diameter, is close to 50% efficient and delivers variable Isp and thrust of ~3000s and ~2mN, respectively. With this performance, <0.8kg of propellant can sufficiently provide delta V >3km/s. The thruster's life by estimation is in excess of 20,000 hours. An additional objective is to demonstrate that much of the spacecraft electronics, primarily the C&DH portion, can be based on low-cost components and survive the deep space environment. The mission will also require pioneering approaches to ADCS and power generation. Initial design of the solar arrays includes two winged panels mounted on Honeybee Robotics' gimbals, and together they will deliver peak power of ~96W. One option for the payload will be a miniature long wavelength IR camera made by Malin Space Science Systems that could be used for geological studies.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Both the high-Isp ion propulsion and the low-cost radiation tolerant electronics needed for the lunar mission are crucial for future deep space missions. Exploring our solar system with low-cost robotic/scout vehicles as precursors for human missions or science missions will benefit from these technologies. Busek's RF ion thruster (BRFIT) enables small satellites to fly beyond earth orbit and can be used in close proximity operations applications. Missions for the moon, inner planets and asteroids are therefore made possible. Additionally the BRFIT is ideal for drag make up applications for earth observation (EO) missions from low flying platforms, down to altitudes of ~200km. Altitude reduction is essential for high resolution EO from small, low-cost satellites that are by definition unsuitable for large optical or RF apertures and thus lower altitude is the only option for higher image resolution.
Potential post applications of the Morehead State University multi-band communications systems include productization and marketing this system to the small satellite community for a variety of applications in LEO and beyond. The capabilities and flexibility of this system (software controlled frequency agility and controllable, variable power output combined with a variety of modulation schemes) combined with an extremely low price point will make the system attractive to small satellite developers.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Non-NASA customers include commercial human exploration and presence in space, commercial asteroid missions and DOD and commercial EO missions. For example, in communication with Planetary Resources, they are interested in the propulsion system in their Arkyd Series 200 - Interceptor for asteroid mining. NRO has indicated interest in this propulsion technology for low earth orbit spacecraft to make up for atmospheric drag. We have letters of support from both of these two entities based on a full Lunar Cube proposal to an earlier Edison BAA.
The Morehead State University C&DH system will also be ultimately produced for both the small satellite and UAV and UAS markets. The small size, low power consumption and significant processing capabilities combined with low cost and expandability will make this C&DH system competitive in these markets.

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.)
Navigation & Guidance
Spacecraft Design, Construction, Testing, & Performance (see also Engineering; Testing & Evaluation)
Spacecraft Instrumentation & Astrionics (see also Communications; Control & Monitoring; Information Systems)

Form Generated on 04-23-14 17:37