NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation

FORM B - PROPOSAL SUMMARY


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 B1.03-8694
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Materials Science for In-Space Fabrication and Radiation Protection
PROPOSAL TITLE: Improved Lunar and Martian Regolith Simulant Production

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Orbital Technologies Corp
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717-1961
(608)827-5000

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Marty A Gustafson
gustafsonm@orbitec.com
1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717-1961
(608)827-5000

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)
NASA's new exploration initiative created immediate need for materials science and technology research to enable safe human travel and work on future lunar or Martian long-duration missions. To conduct this research, NASA must have lunar and Martian regolith simulant for materials experiments and prototype testing of transportation equipment, advanced life support systems, and in situ resource processing. This SBIR will conduct a feasibility study on a new generation of lunar and Martian simulants with improved composition and mineralogical analysis. For lunar regolith, Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) proposes to recreate the JSC-1 material and study post-production processes to add additional percentages of glass particles to improve composition. A study to assess the feasibility of creating a lunar highlands-type simulant will also be conducted. For Martian regolith, ORBITEC will mine the raw material for the JSC Mars-1 simulant with an improved extraction process to avoid the contamination of the soil that resulted in the non-Martian magnetic component. Additional grain-size particles will also be prepared and combined with the material to improve its grain-size distribution comparison. These innovations combined with the well-documented and received original JSC-1 and Mars-1 source materials will produce simulants that will assist NASA on its future exploration quest.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
Materials science and technology research is crucial for safe human travel and work on future lunar or Martian long-duration missions. NASA needs the development of techniques and processes for in-space fabrication of critical path components for the exploration of space. To conduct this research, NASA must have lunar and Martian regolith simulant for materials experiments and prototype testing of transportation equipment, advanced life support systems, and in situ resource processing. The demand for these simulants is increasing daily. ORBITEC has already compiled a list of interested NASA scientists and engineers who have requested samples as soon as it becomes available.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (LIMIT 100 WORDS)
One of the most impressive outcomes of the past lunar and Martian regolith simulant production was its tremendous appeal for education and outreach. Educational supply companies purchased the material for educator kits and teacher workshops, and companies have already expressed interest in new simulant for classroom plant growth kits as well. In addition to education, the success of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers combined with NASA's ambitious exploration plans have energized the country's interest in space. A market for space souvenirs and display items is developing. Simulants neatly packaged for display or children's toys could be launched immediately after production.