NASA STTR 2015 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 15-1 T4.02-9916
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Regolith Resource Robotic
PROPOSAL TITLE: Unmanned Solar Electric Resource Prospector

NAME: Busek Company, Inc. NAME: University of Alabama
STREET: 11 Tech Circle STREET: Box 870104
CITY: Natick CITY: Tuscaloosa
STATE/ZIP: MA  01760 - 1023 STATE/ZIP: AL  35487 - 0104
PHONE: (508) 655-5565 PHONE: (205) 348-7163

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Dr. James Szabo
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: 2
End: 3

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Regolith Resource Robotic 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)
The proposed innovation is a spacecraft that could be used for lunar or asteroid prospecting missions. The mission plan would involve sending the spacecraft to an asteroid or other target, and analyzing the regolith for traces of water and other elements to be mined later for in-situ resource utilization. The system features multiple innovations. One is game-changing high delta V solar electric propulsion (SEP) system featuring a hall thruster flowing iodine propellant. Another is a small tethered satellite with an on-board propulsion system that can be used as a modular working arm for the main spacecraft. The proposed Phase I program includes mission analysis, spacecraft, bus, and propellant module design, and identification of sensors and tools to be used for prospecting and plume analysis. Phase I also includes development of an iodine plasma spacecraft interactions model, which is a necessary precursor to any deep space mission with iodine propellant. In Phase II, the entire system including the spacecraft interactions model will be brought to a higher technology readiness level. Both Phase I and Phase II will include plasma plume measurements to support model development and analysis.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed innovation is a low cost system for conducting prospecting missions at asteroids, Near Earth Objects (NEOs), planets, and their satellites. In one scenario, NASA could use the system to identify and analyze possible asteroid targets before sending a more costly mission to land on or capture one for mining purposes. The system can be altered to fit many different mission profiles. The high delta V iodine hall thruster makes it possible to choose between a variety of targets, including the moon, Mars, or an asteroid. The use of iodine in the propulsion system allows the system to be much lower cost than the typical xenon SEP system without sacrificing performance. The system can also function as an electric upper stage for small launch vehicles, or could be the basis for a technology demonstration in support of the Asteroid Retrieval Mission. The system may also be used to delivery CubeSats to high orbits, or for spacecraft servicing and recovery.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed system can be adapted to non-NASA commercial applications. One is commercial prospecting and mining of space resources. Another application is a High impulse solar electric upper stage for commercial launch vehicles uses for the system include using the SOUL units as a way to attach to and repair satellites in orbit, or capture tumbling space debris. In addition, the system would be a valuable technology demonstrator for iodine-fueled hall thrusters. The spacecraft interactions model is a vital step toward commercial station-keeping and orbit maintenance applications with iodine plasma generators of all shapes and sizes.

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.)
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Simulation & Modeling
Spacecraft Design, Construction, Testing, & Performance (see also Engineering; Testing & Evaluation)
Spacecraft Main Engine

Form Generated on 04-23-15 15:37