NASA SBIR 2012 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 12-2 H9.01-9621
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Long Range Optical Communications
PROPOSAL TITLE: Compact, Lightweight Isolation Platform (CLIP)

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Applied Technology Associates
1300 Britt Street Southeast
Albuquerque, NM 87123 - 3353
(505) 767-1214

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Nick Jacka
1300 Britt Street SE
Albuquerque, NM 87123 - 3353
(505) 767-1254

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Tom Edmondson
1300 Britt Street SE
Albuquerque, NM 87123 - 3353
(505) 767-1214

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 5

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Long Range Optical Communications is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
NASA has a critical need for improved bi-directional data transmission rates from a variety of spacecraft to Earth. NASA estimates that the current Mars to Earth transfer rate of 6 Mbps might be increased to 600Mbps using a Laser Communication (LC) system. Beam jitter caused by spacecraft-based motion must be reduced to sub-microradian levels to enable beaconless optical beam pointing. ATA will create a Compact, Lightweight Isolation Platform (CLIP) that will host the LC collimator telescope and provide a stabilized platform to prevent the 150-microradian spacecraft disturbance environment from reaching the LC terminal. To enable that stabilization, ATA will develop an ultra-low angular noise Capacitive Angular Position Sensor (CAPS). The proposed sensor will have low power and high reliability, which ATA will demonstrate by producing TRL 4 prototypes in Phase I and TRL 5 CLIP engineering development unit (EDU) in Phase II.
The integrated CLIP overall design is a major innovation. Most significantly, the platform payload capacity must increase from the typical few hundred grams to as much as 50 kilograms, roughly two orders of magnitude, but without major growth in the mass of the platform itself. While the payload for most stable platforms is only a small fraction of the platform overall mass, the CLIP payload must be from more than half (3 kg) to as much as 94 percent of the total platform mass (3-50 kg payload + 3 kg platform). Combined with the large payload range, the needed disturbance rejection from 150-microradian to less than 0.5-microradian across the broad frequency range of 0.1 to 500 Hz requires innovation in the platform suspension, high-performance actuators, servo controls, and structure. Other programs have demonstrated these requirements individually, but the innovation CLIP provides is to combine structure, suspension, actuators, and sensors to give the required performance within the stringent 3-kg weight and 15-W power constraints.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Beginning with a NASA funded Phase I SBIR, ATA developed the stable platform concept that serves as the basis for the laser communication terminal that NASA will be flying on the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstrator (LLCD). In September 2013, NASA GSFC awarded a contract to ATA for two (2) innovative inertially stable platforms for the Laser Communications Relay Demonstrator (LCRD) in support of the NASA Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Architecture Roadmap. Our proposed Compact Lightweight Stable Platform (CLIP) and Capacitive Angular Position Sensor (CAPS) could host the laser collimator for NASA's integrated Radio and Optical Communications (iROC) program, which seeks to implement beaconless laser communication from Mars by 2025. ATA's inertially stabilized platform technology also has applicability for the NASA Next Generation Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS).

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
ATA expects laser communications to continue to expand in DoD space programs and we will work directly with government agencies on technology development. We have established relationships with major aerospace prime contractors including Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and will be supplying stabilized platforms and inertial reference units to these customers. ATA is producing Inertially Stable Platform Assemblies (ISPAs) for a Government organization. Naval Air Weapons Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD) at China Lake, California is procuring a Tactical Inertial Reference Unit (TIRU) for their Helicopter Beam Director (HBD) program and a customer at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has shown interest in procuring a TIRU-like device through a follow-on contract with High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office (HEL JTO). Boeing has partnered with ATA on the Magnetohydrodynamic Inertial Reference Unit (MIRU-D) Phase II SBIR and ATA is working a follow-on effort to develop this device specifically to support the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) experiments being conducted on the Boeing Phantom Eye unmanned aircraft system (UAS). ATA anticipates selling additional vibration isolation devices for Line-of-Sight Stabilization (LOSS) to the NRO, SMC, and TESAT.

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.)
Inertial (see also Sensors)
Lasers (Communication)
Navigation & Guidance
Telemetry (see also Control & Monitoring)
Telemetry/Tracking (Cooperative/Noncooperative; see also Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)
Telescope Arrays

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