NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Lunar Regolith Excavation and Material Handling
PROPOSAL TITLE:MPED: An ISRU Bucket Ladder Excavator Demonstrator System

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
sysRAND Corporation
15306 Foxglove Ct.
Parker, CO 80134-9589
(303) 840-0797

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Bradley R Blair
15306 Foxglove Ct.
Parker, CO  80134-9589
(303) 840-0797

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT ( Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The proposed innovation is a planetary surface tool called the Multi Purpose Excavation Demonstrator (MPED), which is intended to both extract Lunar Soil to feed an in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) processing plant, and to perform lunar civil engineering applications. The proposed MPED prototype is an excavation tool known as a 'bucket ladder,' a device with a long heritage of industrial use that is intrinsically abrasion and dust-resistant. The device will be a prototype bucket ladder excavation tool with a pivot arm, and will have a target mass of 20kg and a target production rate of 500kg/hr. It is intended to be integrated into a roughly 80kg mobile platform for a total projected mobile system mass of 100kg. The system will be designed for minimum power consumption for the lunar case, with a target power consumption of less than 200 watts for the terrestrial demonstrator (note: lunar power consumption is expected to be lower due to gravitational differences). Productivity goals include a maximum berm height of 3 meters (based upon multiple passes), a single-pass excavation depth of 30 cm (with a width of between 10 and 25 cm), and a multi-pass road width of 4 meters.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
MPED is offered in support of NASA's ISRU efforts, with the expectation that lunar resources will be utilized as specified in the NASA Exploration Vision. Continuous excavation is key to maximizing ISRU productivity because of its ability to acquire a steady stream of ore. The system will also be capable of performing civil engineering operations that could be required for the setup and preparation for a lunar outpost or base, as well as other activities such as building of infrastructure, or site preparation for telescope deployment. A future robotic system based on MPED could also use its trenching capability to assist human geologic explorers, and is expected to become a candidate payload as a component of future ISRU missions. It could also qualify as an secondary payload for a future robotic surface mission under the LPRP (Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program).

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS ( Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The early development and demonstration of a key lunar ISRU system element (the excavator) is expected to have a strong impact on risk reduction for future commercial lunar mining and ISRU product development. Pending a successful outcome of this project, the interest of commercial investors is anticipated. Through previous work we have identified companies that are positioned to exploit the commercialization and development effort, and cultivated contacts with key personnel. Numerous terrestrial commercial opportunities within the mining and civil construction industries exist, pending technical advances in abrasion-resistance and dust mitigation, and fall within the larger scope of the proposed effort (i.e., Phase II). Certain methodology embodied in our approaches to applications are also expected to enhance modular robotics for assembly and repair in field conditions, leading to commercial market applications.

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.

Architectures and Networks
Autonomous Control and Monitoring
General Public Outreach
Human-Computer Interfaces
Human-Robotic Interfaces
In-situ Resource Utilization
Integrated Robotic Concepts and Systems
K-12 Outreach
Mission Training
Power Management and Distribution
Radiation Shielding Materials
Radiation-Hard/Resistant Electronics
Spaceport Infrastructure and Safety
Thermal Insulating Materials

Form Printed on 09-08-06 18:19