SAS proposes the development of a universal interface that will be capable of transferring power, data, and fluids in NASA relevant environments. This had been previously demonstrated by SAS in 2016 with an end-effector that could link these commodities robotically. SAS will leverage this work to build an autonomous coupler that can transfer power, data, and fluid in the harsh environments of the moon and Mars. Phase I will consist of high-fidelity prototype universal coupler that will be proof/flow tested with N2, a cryogenic fluid. The purpose of this test will be to demonstrate the coupler’s ability in managing more complex fluids, which will be integral for handling cryogenic propellant. The test will evaluate the coupler’s performance based on successful connection and the fluid’s flow rate, pressure, and temperature for optimal transfer potential.
A universal connector enables the NASA community to have accessible, shared multi-use that can meet interfacing needs on the ground and lunar surface. This modular interface ensures that power, data, and fluid connections can be achieved across subsystems and adapted towards extracting/transferring diverse resources (fuel, oxygen, water, power, data, etc.). The interchangeability and rugged design will be convenient for replacing damaged connectors and survival in a harsh, unforgiving environment.
The development of a common interface, and the modularity growing from it, allows the adoption and development of needed systems within other technological industries outside of the space industry. With SAS’s ongoing efforts, SAS has identified at least three additional industries that will benefit from this research:
-Oil and Gas Industry