NASA SBIR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-2 O3.02-9569
PROPOSAL TITLE: Multi-Specimen Variable-G Facility for Life and Microgravity Sciences Research

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Techshot, Inc.
7200 Highway 150
Greenville, IN 47124 - 9515
(812) 923-9591

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John C Vellinger
7200 Highway 150
Greenville, IN 47124 - 9515
(812) 923-9591 Extension :243

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 5
End: 7

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
The Multi-specimen Variable-G Facility (MVF) is a single locker sized centrifuge facility for life and microgravity sciences research on the International Space Station. The MVF is a rear breather EXPRESS Rack payload that leverages many of the existing subsystems of flight proven (STS-108) Avian Development Facility (ADF) thereby reducing costs and time to flight for new scientific capability. Two centrifuge rotor platforms are capable of applying 0–2 g's to the modular specimen containers which can be modified to accommodate a wide variety of experiment samples. Curved cell culture specimen containers are designed to maintain a constant radius (within ? 1 mm) without inertial-gradient shearing or significant Coriolis acceleration. Each rotor can accommodate 10 generic modular experiment specimen holders which can be accessed in real-time on-orbit any time during an experiment. The centrifuge platforms include an active balancing system to ensure balanced rotation when the experiment sample modules contain slightly variable mass. The MVF will control g-levels, temperature, humidity, ethylene, CO2 and other gases, and provides video observation capability with its removable modular subsystem allowing on-orbit cleaning and/or replacement. The potential uses of the MVF are numerous, such as cell culture, aquatics, plants, algae, and invertebrate organisms. The modular multi-specimen holder can be utilized as a prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell culture vessel. It can be used to contain aquatic organisms such as Zebra fish, Medaka, tadpoles, and even developing amphibian eggs. Seedlings, small adult plants (Arabadopsis), and even fern spores could be located within the specimen holder. Other possibilities include Algae (Chara) and fungi (S. cerevisiae). During the Phase II project, Techshot will complete the MVF design, fabricate a flight-like prototype, and test the hardware by performing selected biological experiments to demonstrate its scientific utility.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
MVF offers innovative new technology needed for on-orbit processing, as well as the chance to leverage existing ISS facilities for new scientific payloads. This is expected to lead to many new potential NASA commercial applications and opportunities. In particular, Techshot expects to commercialize the MVF by incorporating it into the company's spaceflight service program that it offers to NASA mission programs, as well as to other Government agencies, including investigators funded by the National Institute of Health's Biomed-ISS program. In combination with the long list of other proven flight hardware developed by Techshot, MVF unique centrifuge capability is expected to greatly expand the company's competitive position and range of services. The unique advantage of the MVF is its capability to provide synchronous controls in the same environment as the test specimens, while permitting on-orbit access to the specimens, which provides the opportunity to conduct real-time analysis on the experimental samples. Furthermore, on-orbit specimen access reduces the up and down mass required to conduct scientific investigations since only the generic multi-specimen sample holders need to be transported to and from orbit. Overall, the science research community will be better served with the MVF's advanced experiment processing capability, and NASA can more fully realize its goal of utilizing ISS as a national laboratory.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The novel approach to the automated balancing system for the MVF centrifuge could become a very valuable asset to washing machine manufacturers who struggle with vibration associated with unevenly-distributed washed clothing being spin-dried in a rotating tub. MVF's unique approach to environmental control for cell cultures offers commercial applications in closed-environment bioassay situations. For commercial spaceflight, Techshot serves as an Implementation Partner for enabling space flight experimentation on ISS. Techshot offers flight experiment services to researchers from universities and the private sector. Techshot's successful space flight experiments with processing facilities like ADF and ADSEP position the company as a leader in offering these unique services. MVF is expected to give Techshot an even greater competitive advantage in attracting microgravity research customers. Furthermore, with the ability of commercial launch vehicles (e.g. SpaceX, Orbital Science) to get more experiment samples into orbit, once these vehicles begin routine visits to the ISS, the economics of transporting and processing materials in microgravity should become far more compelling. Eventually, given sufficient economical commercial launch vehicle transporting capacity, when coupled with Techshot's cadre of space processing equipment, MVF could become an important element for processing larger quantities of high-value materials in the unique microgravity environment of space.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (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.)
Active Systems
Analytical Instruments (Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, Energy; see also Sensors)
Autonomous Control (see also Control & Monitoring)
Biological (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Biomass Growth
Biophysical Utilization
Chemical/Environmental (see also Biological Health/Life Support)
Circuits (including ICs; for specific applications, see e.g., Communications, Networking & Signal Transport; Control & Monitoring, Sensors)
Data Acquisition (see also Sensors)
Data Input/Output Devices (Displays, Storage)
Data Modeling (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Health Monitoring & Sensing (see also Sensors)
Heat Exchange
Machines/Mechanical Subsystems
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)
Physiological/Psychological Countermeasures
Robotics (see also Control & Monitoring; Sensors)
Simulation & Modeling

Form Generated on 10-03-11 16:35