NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Optical Devices for Starlight Detection and Wavefront Analysis
PROPOSAL TITLE:Extremely Lightweight Segmented Membrane Optical Shell Fabrication Technology for Future IR to Optical Telescope

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
1121 San Antonio Rd, Suite B-100-B
Palo Alto, CA 94303-4311
(650) 965-4912

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Eric   Flint
1121 San Antonio Rd, Suite B-100-B
Palo Alto, CA  94303-4311
(650) 965-4912

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
We propose that the Membrane Optical Shell Technology (MOST) substrate fabrication approach be extended with a specific focus on advanced off-axis very light weight, cost advantaged, optical surfaces for future telescope applications. The approach is based on a proven combination of 1) continuous thin film materials with space heritage, 2) inherent low areal density (40 to 200g/m2) surfaces, 3) cost and time advantaged fabrication techniques that 4) impart structural shell stiffness through the induction of permanent curvature, yielding 5) interferometrically confirmed optically sufficient low surface roughness and thickness variation and rapidly improving global figure metrics, 6) volume efficient stacking or compact roll stowage and robust passive self deployment, and when needed, 7) compatibility with boundary control/adjustment to provide initial phasing and reject environmental disturbances. In the PI, building on our base of past research, we will demonstrate ability to directly fabricate the desired off axis segmented surfaces, continue to improve global figure metrics, address potential structural load survival and dynamic concerns, and begin to address other key issues critical toward improving TRL levels. This will prepare the way for a detailed PII ground demonstration and adoption into a flight program which is a key step in any realistic commercialization plan for space hardware.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed technology development is directly relevant to the needs of the 2006 NASA Strategic Goals, Specifically Sub-Goals 3D, but also 3C & 3A. When developed, the segmented membrane optical shell technology reflective surfaces will enable future generations of Explorer, Discovery and large scale telescope based missions to take advantage of very low cost, lightweight/low inertia, and where required, compactly stowable primary apertures. Lighter, more affordable, more stowable optical substrate surfaces will allow larger primaries which in turn provide higher resolution, better signal to noise, and significantly reduced time per observation, hence yielding better scientific return/mission cost balance. At longer wavelengths, the aperture technology could support a broad range of additional NASA Science mission areas (i.e. microwave, THz, IR, LIDAR (incoherent then coherent) based imaging/observations). RF and Laser comm applications are possible as well. While non optical, there are also many possible additional space science related applications. For example stiffened polyimide shells could serve as sun shield components for passively cooled telescope sun shields or Solar Radiation Pressure balance sails since the base materials/coatings are typically similar. Additional possible NASA Exploration and Operations applications include solar concentrators for use in solar dynamic power generation, space solar thermal propulsion, and in-situ resource utilization.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The same space based applications of interest to NASA (Optical and IR Imaging, Science or Observation based on Microwave & RF wavelengths, Solar Concentrator based Power Generation and Solar Thermal Propulsion, and/or RF/Lasercomm) are also of ongoing interest to other national organizations. Terrestrially, military applications are seen in increased diameter/range spotting scopes and laser designators and man portable RF or laser comm terminals. Consumer applications in transportable emergency apertures for commercial telecom, back-packable solar concentrators for water heating, cooking, distillation, and as surface figure increases, possible optical apertures for prosumer amateur astronomy, university level 1-2 m telescopes, and as secondaries for professional astronomy telescopes, are foreseen as well.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Large Antennas and Telescopes
Optical & Photonic Materials

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19