NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Exploiting Gravitational Effects for Combustion, Fluids, Synthesis, and Vibration Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE:High-Performance Contaminant Monitor for Spacecraft

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Vista Photonics, Inc.
67 Condesa Road
Santa Fe ,NM 87508 - 8136
(505) 466 - 3953

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jeffrey S Pilgrim
67 Condesa Road
Santa Fe, NM  87508 -8136
(505) 466 - 3953

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Vision for Space Exploration demands increasing reliance on real-time trace gas monitors onboard spacecraft. Present grab samples and badges will be inadequate beyond low-Earth-orbit. New better monitors will be critical components for early detection of fire, release event monitoring, crew habitability, and air revitalization processes. The danger from fire and toxic releases aboard spacecraft is constant with only moments for detection and contravention. Spacecraft are unique high-value systems where failure is measured in lives, dollars, time, and public perception. Space crews have little chance of escaping vessels that cannot continue to support life. It is imperative to detect danger in these closed-cycle environments at the earliest possible moment. Present fire detectors onboard spacecraft are inadequate due to fatigue, sensitivity or time response. Smoke detectors are insufficient for detecting the earliest stages of combustion. Further, smoke detectors will become increasingly unreliable due to false alarms upon exposure to dust particulates from the Moon and Mars. Sensors are needed to directly detect the molecular products of combustion. Vista Photonics proposes to develop rugged, compact prototype optical fire detection and contaminant monitoring instrumentation capable of selectively measuring a critical suite of contaminants at parts-per-million (ppm) or better sensitivities in a few seconds.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The immediate targeted application for NASA is fire detection and contaminant monitoring on spacecraft. Phase II prototypes will be capable of selectively detecting HCN-HCL-HF-CO-acetylene and methane. The emerging technology will be suitable as an event monitor for specific release events on the ISS, particularly ammonia and HF. ISS is the test-bed for developing CEV sensor technology. Other applications include fire detection on aircraft and high-value installations, trace atmospheric species detection on manned and unmanned aircraft, gas sensing in air revitalization and water recovery processes, and a macroscopic atmospheric composition monitor.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Phase III commercial applications abound for sensors whose performance and physical characteristics are suitable for spaceflight. Vista Photonics will focus initial commercialization efforts on two of these, moisture contamination in semiconductor process gases and acetylene contamination of chemical manufacturing feedstock gases. Both contaminants were detected at relevant low-ppb levels during the Phase I project. The fully-developed Phase II instruments shall offer a compelling and desirable blend of performance, affordability, compactness, simplicity and ease-of-use relative to present commercial product offerings in both industries. Other applications include environmental monitoring, occupational safety, biomedical breath diagnostics and homeland security monitoring of high-value buildings, rail, and mass-transit.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52