NASA STTR 2002 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 02- 020007
RESEARCH TOPIC: Space Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Multi-Application Survivable Tether (MAST) Experiment

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (SBC): RESEARCH INSTITUTION (RI):
NAME: Tethers Unlimited NAME: Stanford University SSDL
ADDRESS: 19011 36th Ave W, Suite F ADDRESS: 469 Lomita Mall, Stanford University
CITY: Robert Hoyt CITY: Stanford
STATE/ZIP: WA   98036 - 5752 STATE/ZIP: CA   94305 - 4035
PHONE: ( 425 ) 744 - 0400 PHONE: ( 650 ) 723 - 8651

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER(Name,Email):   Robert Hoyt , hoyt@tethers.com

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS):
Space tether technology can provide propellantless propulsion for orbital maneuvering, orbital transfer, and spacecraft formation flying. The MAST (Multi- Application Survivable Tether) experiment team, consisting of Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) and the Stanford University Space Systems Development Laboratory (SSDL), propose to develop and test space-survivable tether technologies relevant to momentum-exchange tethers, electrodynamic propulsion tether systems, formation flying, and space elevator technologies. Specifically, the MAST team will develop both a very small tether deployer suitable for use on picosatellite experiments and a simple tether crawler/inspector, and use these in a very low-cost CubeSat flight experiment to obtain critical data on the survivability of tethers and other gossamer space technologies in the M/OD environment. In the Phase I effort, we will design and build breadboard prototypes of these picosatellite tether systems. In the Phase II effort, we will conduct a flight experiment on the CubeSat platform, obtaining critical data on space tether survivability and the dynamics of tethered spacecraft formations.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATION(S) (LIMIT 150 WORDS):
The technologies developed as part of the MAST STTR effort will find potential applications on every small satellite launched into LEO. The primary advantage of tether propulsion relative to other technologies is that they can provide microsatellites with propulsion for orbit raising, station-keeping, and inclination changes with zero propellant expenditure, and will thus be most competitive for missions requiring large total delta-V. They will permit commercial imagery satellites to station-keep indefinitely at much lower altitudes than currently possible, thus enabling small, inexpensive observation microsatellites to achieve resolutions currently available only with large, complex spacecraft. Although tether propulsion technologies will be developed specifically for the growing microsatellite market as part of this experiment, the technologies are easily scalable to application on larger spacecraft such as the next generation of telecommunications satellite constellations.

POTENTIAL NASA APPLICATION(S) (LIMIT 150 WORDS):
The propellantless nature of tether propulsion will result in highly capable small spacecraft for future Earth science missions that can perform many more orbital maneuvers during their lifetimes than could be achieved with a propellant-limited propulsion. This will enable microsatellites deployed from the Shuttle SHELS payload adapter to raise their orbits up to 2,000 km, allowing longer-duration missions, while maintaining high payload fractions. Tethers will also make feasible formation flying missions, such for SAR and long-baseline interferometry studies, which require large total delta-Vs that are not feasible with propulsion systems that require propellant. Additionally, the technologies developed and demonstrated in the proposed STTR will be scalable to much larger applications, such as orbital maintenance of the International Space Station or a momentum exchange tether facility.


Form Printed on 09-05-02 10:10