NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Chemical and Propellantless Propulsion for Deep Space
PROPOSAL TITLE:FCAPD Protective Coating for Space Tethers

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation
626 Whitney Street
San Leandro, CA 94577-1116
(510) 483-4156

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Andrew   Gerhan
626 Whitney Street
San Leandro, CA  94577-1116
(510) 483-4156

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Alameda Applied Sciences Corporation (AASC) proposes to demonstrate extended service lifetime of space tethers in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) environment by using Filtered Cathodic Arc Plasma Deposition (FCAPD) to deposit a high quality protective coating onto space tether material. Protective coatings deposited by FCAPD have low defect density, excellent adhesion to space tether material, low mass and thickness and have been shown in initial laboratory tests to protect against atomic oxygen (AO) erosion on Kapton as well as Zylon. Because of the low process temperature (<80 oC), FCAPD can minimize the thermal effects the process has on the tether material, which is believed to be a major disadvantage of current types of protective coatings such as Photosil , TOR-LM and POSS. These polymer coatings offer a level of protection against AO and UV damage, but at a significant cost to the tether's tensile strength .

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
By 2015, space tether momentum exchange launch boost missions and other space tether missions (such as Jovian) will be launched by NASA and ESA. AASC, by developing the space tether coating, plans to become an integral part of this technological roadmap. AASC has established a commercialization strategy for the FCAPD space tether coating technology for the next 5 years. During the first two years of the project, AASC will use NASA SBIR funding to understand the science and seek optimal protective coating parameters. We plan to achieve a TRL-5 coating by validating our prototypes at AOBF. Following validation, we will establish a path to production by partnering with tether companies such as TUI and seek a space flight test opportunity by the end of year 2. During year 3, we plan to achieve higher TRL by testing coated tethers in MAST test flights (perhaps on a technology demonstration micro-satellite) to gain flight heritage. In year 4, AASC will start a joint venture with tether material manufacturers and obtain external funding to begin full scale production of tether coating. AASC and its partners will be in the position by year 2011 to become NASA's prime contractor of space tethers for propellant-less missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
FCAPD coating can be applied in the photovoltaic (PV) industry to create excellent PV cell encapsulation moisture barrier coating. As a result of high module cost and reliability issues, current thin film products in the cost sensitive PV market have not seen widespread commercial use. AASC recognizes that even a successful and effective moisture barrier coating cannot alone bring immediate widespread use of the thin film PV cell technology. It is, however, instrumental to the improvement of the reliability and cost competitiveness of thin film PV technology. The thin film PV module market is vast but not immediate. Lower module cost, better reliability and higher efficiency must be met for their use to be widespread. In the short term, thin film PV modules will be sold mainly to high-value markets such as remote power generation for developing countries, replacing high emission/noisy diesel generators; and also for military uses. The US Department of the Army has initiated a rechargeable battery program aimed at reducing the number of batteries used in the field, to reduce cost. A flexible, thin film PV module is an effective solution to provide the power needed to recharge batteries in the field. In the longer term, the private sector can also benefit from a reliable PV module that has an effective moisture barrier coating.

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.

Radiation Shielding Materials

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19