NASA SBIR 2006 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 06-2 S1.01-8788
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Surface Robotic Exploration
PROPOSAL TITLE: Light Weight Low Force Rotary Percussive Coring Tool for Planetary Applications

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Alliance Spacesystems, LLC
1250 Lincoln Blvd., Suite 100
Pasadena, CA 91103 - 2466
(626) 296-1373

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Scott Stanley
1250 Lincoln Blvd., Suite 100
Pasadena, CA 91103 - 2466
(626) 296-1373

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Alliance Spacesystems, LLC produced a rotary percussive drill designed for space use under a NASA-funded Mars Instrument Development Program (MIDP) project – the Low-force Sample Acquisition System (LSAS). The flight-like drill prototype that was the end result of the project successfully drilled and acquired 1 cm³ samples from a variety of rocks and soils including the hardest anticipated Martian rock (basalt) and frozen soil. This ability was demonstrated not only in ambient conditions but also in a thermal/vacuum chamber replicating Mars pressure and extreme temperatures. The rotary percussive approach is simple, robust, and highly efficient with regards to power and mass. During the SBIR 2006 Phase I effort, Alliance took this heritage device and expanded its potential to include coring against a variety of rock materials anticipated to be encountered on Mars. Through the use of a breadboard fixture, coring bit designs and coring parameters were evaluated to identify optimum combinations. At the completion of test a conceptual design was generated taking this coring experience into account and adding core retention, break and ejection features. A bit change mechanism, identified as a requirement for successful operation while maintaining design robustness and simplicity, was added as well. A Phase II effort is now proposed that will take this conceptual design into prototype form. Primary activities to be performed during Phase II will include: • Additional coring test runs to work out final details of detail bit design • Detail design and prototyping of core handling mechanisms • Prototype testing of core handling mechanisms • Design and manufacture of full prototype LSAS Corer system • Testing of prototype LSAS corer • Integration of LSAS corer onto robotic platform and functional demonstration

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The RPCT configuration is fairly specific to the requirements of interplanetary and lunar exploration. However most terrestrial technology has been developed for larger cores, and the ability to procure smaller diameter cores could potentially offer advantages by enabling less intrusive evaluations of rock formations or concrete structures. Additionally the ability to interface with light weight robotics would enable integration onto autonomous or telerobotically operated rovers, opening potential markets in the nuclear or other high risk/hazardous environment areas. The development of the percussive approach is proving beneficial in other areas. Recently Alliance Spacesystems has been developing a variation of the Dynamic Cone Penetrometer, used to measure the compaction of soils for suitability for roadwork, airfields, etc., for Special Forces applications that takes advantage of some of the work performed in this area. Alliance was awarded a contract in June 2007 to develop a fully functional prototype of this device.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The feasibility of robotic geologic exploration capability continues to grow in importance with missions proposed or in the formulation stage for much of the solar system, particularly Mars and the Moon. Other destinations under consideration whose missions will potentially require coring capability include Titan, the moons of Mars, and asteroids. All planetary missions are mass and power constrained even beyond that typical even for orbital spaceflight hardware, and the mass and power efficiency of the rotary percussive approach along with its fairly low requirements for down force while drilling make the approach ideal for these applications. A mission currently in development that has been directly impacted by the unavailability of mature coring capability is the Mars Science Laboratory, which recently was forced to drop coring from its sample acquisition plan since the technology would not be available. Future mission applications include the Mars Sample and Return (MSR) mission, a number of proposed Mars Scouts, and any of the Discovery or lunar missions that entail geologic evaluations.

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Form Generated on 08-02-07 14:39