NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 04 S3.03-9656
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Precision Deployable Lightweight Cryogenic Structures for Large Space Telescopes
PROPOSAL TITLE: Cryogenic Vibration Damping Mechanisms for Space Telescopes and Interferometers

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
CSA Engineering Inc
2565 Leghorn St
Mountain View, CA 94303-1613

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kirsten Bender
2565 Leghorn Street
Mountain View, CA 94043-1613

In its mission to understand how galaxies, stars, and planetary systems form, NASA's Origins Technology Program calls for advances in "enabling component and subsystem technology" for large space telescopes and other optical instruments that operate at cryogenic temperatures. In particular, the precision alignment of optical components that is required for detecting faint signatures from distant light sources presents a formidable challenge within a cryogenic environment. To meet this challenge, CSA proposes to mature magnetic eddy current vibration damping technology for use at 45 Kelvin and below. Eddy current technology is the only passive means for damping vibration in a target structure in this temperature range. Existing test data for CSA's prototype device (Figure 1) indicates that 4-8% of critical damping can be induced at temperatures as low as 17 Kelvin without adding significant weight to a target structure. The proposed Phase 1 effort would include development of analysis and test methods as well as conceptual design for a family of passive tuned mass vibration damping devices that are suitable for a host of NASA missions, including SIM, TPF, and JWST. The proposed effort offers a new approach to sub-micron level alignment and pointing control.

The design methodology developed during Phase I is expected to offer a means of suppressing vibration that is due to structural modes in numerous space based optical instruments. The family of eddy current tuned mass damping devices to be developed and tested during Phase II will be designed for direct application to NASA's SIM, TPF, and JWST missions. Phase I results will also provide an ample foundation for design of vibration solutions for other instruments operating at similar temperatures during future NASA missions.

Components in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) devices as well as commercially developed, space based optical structures suggest potential markets for the proposed development. While present market immaturity makes it difficult to forecast non-NASA commercial potential in greater detail, advancements in imaging capabilities are likely to result in continued development of optical structures that operate at cryogenic temperatures. The need for passive vibration mitigation in structures at cryogenic temperatures is likely to grow.