NASA SBIR 2007 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 07-1 O1.04-8808
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Antenna Technology
PROPOSAL TITLE: Surface Optimization Techniques for Deployable Reflectors

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Composite Technology Development, Inc.
2600 Campus Drive, Suite D
Lafayette, CO 80026 - 3359
(303) 664-0394

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Robert Taylor
2600 Campus Drive, Suite D
Lafayette, CO 80026 - 3359
(303) 664-0394

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 4 to 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Existing communications systems for spacecraft provide a choice between either large aperture (>3m) or high frequency (>X-band), but not both. These systems use either deployable mesh reflectors, which are limited in their operating frequency by the facets and RF reflectivity of the mesh itself, or rigid surface reflectors, which are limited in their aperture by the size of the launch vehicle fairing. Deployable solid-surface reflectors have the potential to enable both a large aperture and high frequency operation but are compliant and inherently difficult to fabricate to a precise surface contour. The proposed innovation is to develop methods for optimizing the surface contour of solid-surface deployable reflector systems using built-in adjustors. This allows for antenna systems with high data rate and high gain for interplanetary communications and other missions. Technical feasibility of this approach will be demonstrated in Phase 1 with the design, structural analysis, assembly, and demonstration of a tunable solid surface reflector thereby advancing the innovation to a TRL 5. The Phase 1 demonstration unit will incorporate tuning adjustors, an existing reflector shell, and a simplified backing structure. This will provide the methodology for a flight-ready demonstration unit to be completed as part of the Phase 2 contract.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Achieving the vision of NASA's bold Exploration Initiative will require the development of communication system technologies that extend the Internet into space, enable anytime-anywhere intelligent-autonomous operations, and provide end-to-end information delivery from space directly to users. For interplanetary communications links, high-frequency, high-gain spacecraft antennas are required, and this combination creates a need for large aperture, precise reflector systems that exceed the capability of current reflector designs. The required surface accuracy of a reflector is directly proportional to the wavelength of the RF signal, therefore higher frequency communication require more accurate reflector shells. The ideal reflector is large in aperture, packages within existing launch vehicles, and deploys to a precise shape using a thermally stable solid membrane to provide high frequency reflectivity at Ka band or higher.

CTD's solid surface reflector technology currently provides a low cost deployable antenna reflector for increasing the aperture of a small satellite antenna beyond the constraints of the payload fairing at lower microwave frequencies. The technology developed in this SBIR will extend the operating frequency range of CTD's solid-surface deployable reflectors to Ka band, enabling deployable reflector systems for high data-rate lunar communications and Mars communication links.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Current generation antenna systems for military satellites have typically used fixed-aperture, deep-parabolic reflectors with high accuracy reflective surfaces. Examples of these reflectors include the MCP, SSP, and MilSTAR reflectors manufactured by Boeing. These reflectors range in aperture from 2m to 3m. Deployable solid surface reflectors could improve the satellite system design by drastically reducing the volume required for the antenna reflector, provided the reflective surface can be adjusted to meet the surface accuracy requirement.

The deployable solid surface reflector design could also be adapted to shaped reflector surfaces for commercial satellite applications. Most commercial applications are Ku band, requiring modest surface optimization for this type of reflector.

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
Multifunctional/Smart Materials

Form Generated on 09-18-07 17:50