NASA SBIR 2017 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 171 H8.01-9521
SUBTOPIC TITLE: ISS Utilization and Microgravity Research
PROPOSAL TITLE: Microgravity Granular Material Research (MGMR) Facility for ISS

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Trans Astronautica Corporation
11404 Camaloa Avenue
Lake View Terrace, CA 91342 - 6810
(818) 422-0514

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Joel C Sercel PhD
11404 Camaloa Avenue
Lake View Terrace, CA 91342 - 6810
(818) 422-0514

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mr. Joel C Sercel PhD
11404 Camaloa Avenue
Lake View Terrace, TX 91342 - 6810
(818) 422-0514

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
ISS Utilization and Microgravity Research 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)
TransAstra Corporation in collaboration with Grainflow Dynamics Inc. and the Colorado School of Mines proposes to develop a general purpose Micro-g Granular Material Research (MGMR) facility for use on the ISS. This facility will include a test section into which third party experimenters can place their apparatus and will be suitable for studying steady or variable gas-solid flows over a 2-orders of magnitude range in particle size and 4-orders of magnitude in solids-fraction at gas pressures ranging from atmospheric to vacuum and flow velocities from a 10s of m/s per second down to stationary conditions. This facility will provide a unique opportunity to gain understanding of the fundamental physical behavior of granular solids in microgravity over a range of solids fractions that are unobtainable terrestrially due to gravitationally induced settling. It will also support study of phenomena occurring in static assemblies of solid particulates and in pneumatic transport. MGMR will support exploration of static, transient, and steady-state flow conditions. In micro-gravity, low speed pneumatic transport can cause aggregation of particles resulting in the formation of gel-like structures which grow to fill available volumes. Such fractal-lattice particulate-gels are a potential blocking mechanism that could affect low-velocity pneumatic transport in human habitation systems and/or ISRU operations on asteroids or other small bodies such as the moons of Mars. Understanding what contributes to the strength of such gels and developing the means to avoid or disrupt them will be crucial for the design of solids transport systems in future ISRU facilities. The MGMR will provide a unique environment for advancement of both fundamental science and of technologies important for the advancement of solar system exploration. The MGMR will also serve as a subscale testbed for the fabrication of radiation shields made from asteroid regolith for human deep space habitats.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The MGMR facility developed under this effort will address both fundamental science and technology development need of NASA and its commercial partners. There is no terrestrial research facility that can study aggregation of millimeter-scale agglomerates or particles, a fundamental process in the formation of planetesimals and a process that must be understood for future NASA and commercial applications such as asteroid ISRU and air circulation and filtering in long life deep space environmental control systems. Also, no terrestrial test facility exists that can test low-velocity, low-density-gas pneumatic transport concepts suitable for movement of regolith and other granular solids on asteroids or in processing facilities on the moons of Mars. Such equipment might be very beneficial for ISRU applications; however, such equipment will not be considered for deep space missions if we do not know enough about potential failure mechanisms, or about design parameter space to design and construct robust micro-g pneumatic transport systems. The proposed facility will allow appropriate science and engineering tests to be conducted in a readily accessible location and in an appropriate environment. In addition this facility will be well suited as a test environment for third party commercial use on ISS supporting NASA contracts.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Commercial space mining is a rapidly ascending industry. Large companies such as Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance are investing in this area and a $200M commercial venture fund has been established for this industry simulating the creation of several rapidly growing small companies. TransAstra Corporation is part of this new resource-recovery industry, which also includes companies such as Deep Space Industries, Planetary Resources, Moon Express, and Shakleton Energy. These companies anticipate excavating, transporting and processing large quantities of regolith to recover water and other volatiles and to process the minerals for fabrication of radiation shielding or structures. Such operations will involve transporting, storing and handling large quantities of granular solids under reduced or micro-gravity. Advancement of the understanding of the fundamental behavior of granular materials under reduced gravity conditions and under reduced gas pressures or vacuum conditions will be critical for them in designing their equipment and processes. The industry will have a strong interest in the science and technological developments that can come from a micro-g granular materials research facility. We are confident that our company, and others will want to sponsor purely commercial directed studies using the facility once it is available on the ISS.

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.)
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)
In Situ Manufacturing
Processing Methods
Resource Extraction
Tools/EVA Tools

Form Generated on 04-19-17 12:59