SAS is on a mission to develop and commercialize a universal connector that will enable the simultaneous transfer of multiple commodities – fluids, power, and data – between systems. This technology will have the capabilities for multi-vehicle support and be extensible to manual/autonomous use for terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments (in-space, Lunar, and Mars). In Phase II, SAS team will improve the current prototype concept using an agile digital engineering process, to TRL 6. A fully functional interface will be designed, fabricated, and tested across multiple iterations. SAS will demonstrate the product functionality through multi-commodity transfer operations across the interface with a remotely controlled robotic arm. SAS will also perform low pressure, high flow-rate cryogenic fluid testing with propellant rocket liquids including hydrogen and oxygen/nitrogen. Structural tests will be performed to define minimum engagement/disengagement forces, tensile limits, and other relevant loading conditions that the interface connector must withstand while coupled. The tests and demonstrations performed will define the universal connector expected performance. They will also be used to meet qualification criteria for identified end-use servicing activities for prospective vehicles and systems.
A universal connector standard will allow the NASA community to access hardware with adaptable capabilities for multi-use needs. This is beneficial for designing a single interface to support emerging technologies, for use in ground, lunar, and Martian environments. With respect to Artemis program efforts, the universal connector will have a feasible design path for use in space and on the Moon with rovers, vehicles, habitats, and other systems. The modular design will also be convenient for replacing damaged connectors.
The universal connector will be modular and thus, applicable to a wide range of end uses. Chemical industries would benefit from support in transfer of hazardous materials. The energy industry anticipates a shift to hydrogen as a clean energy source that can benefit from a universal connector. This product will be applicable in production and transfer capacity for this type of resource.