NASA SBIR 2017 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 17-2 H9.04-9007
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Advanced RF Communications
PROPOSAL TITLE: Row Column Phased Array Architecture for Low Cost, Low Profile Millimeter Wave Phased Array Antennas

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Agile RF Systems, LLC
4316 Beverly Drive
Berthoud, CO 80513 - 7953
(970) 344-6556

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Philip Kelly
4316 Beverly Drive
Berthoud, CO 80513 - 7953
(303) 522-0303

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kimberly Kelly
4316 Beverly Drive
Berthoud, CO 80513 - 7953
(303) 520-6964

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

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Advanced RF 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)

There is high demand for electronically steered antennas particularly at millimeter wavelengths. However, the cost to develop and procure this type of antenna prohibits this technology from widespread use. The proposed innovation substantially reduces the control complexity of phased arrays by reducing the control set from MxN phase controls to M+N phase controls where M and N represent the number of rows and columns in the phased array. By reducing the control complexity, not only are the phased array devices simplified, but the control distribution network is substantially reduced. This simplification ripples across the entire phased array to improve physical integration and thermal management which often cost as much as the phased array components. This is particularly important for high frequency antennas where unit cell sizes become a significant impediment to system implementation. This proposal summarizes the Phase I SBIR findings definitively demonstrating the phased array innovation feasibility and applicability to future NASA Ka band communications and sensors. This phased array technology does not rely on future advancements in device technology and controls but is realizable using proven, inherently radiation hardened MMIC device technology widely available today. A prototype demonstration is proposed that will operate from 25.25 to 27.5 GHz with 8 dBm output power at each unit cell to illustrate millimeter wave phased array capabilities.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There is a growing list of small satellite and cube satellite missions enabled by industry advances in very capable, low power and miniature digital signal processing hardware. Because the proposed phased array development is expected to result in significantly lower system costs, this phased array technology should be considered for small satellite payload and data transfer subsystems. By providing a communication solution that can be electronically steered, spacecraft attitude management is simplified allowing the payload to point at the primary target longer without interruption for data off-loading. Furthermore, by lowering antenna system costs, larger apertures can be deployed to significantly improve EIRP and G/T metrics essential for long range, high throughput capacity links. A high gain, electronically steered antenna at millimeter waves in Low Earth Orbit can reduce ground station antenna sizes enabling the deployment of small ground stations to avoid scarce resource conflicts. There is also the possibility of making the Ka band antenna compatible with K/Ka band SATCOM links to provide an additional means of transporting data or command and control messaging. The proposed phased array technology not only reduces the cost of millimeter wave phased arrays but enables significant bandwidths (20% or greater) to support commercial, military and NASA spectrum. One potential mission is replacement of gimbaled Ka band antennas on JPSS-3 & JPSS-4.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The proposed phased array beamforming architecture is a significant breakthrough in phased array technology. By drastically reducing the uniquely addressed (and routed) commands to steer electrically large phased arrays, the overall system cost is reduced associated with phased array integration. This is often an overlooked subsystem when attempting to reduce phased array system costs. The control distribution network often impacts how the phased array is temperature controlled by adding significantly to the backside physical interconnects eliminating critical surface area for thermal controls. The proposed technology can directly improve existing large phased array systems used for radar or communications. However, the low cost potential does sacrifice exquisite performance levels typically attributed to tracking radar systems that have the ability to adaptively null jamming signals or achieve very low sidelobe levels due to unit cell controls that have been eliminated with this architecture. Nevertheless, the proposed beamforming architecture can enable phased array application to mobile communication markets where spatial diversification is required for high capacity and frequency re-use. These markets include satellite communications such as for inflight entertainment and 5G high speed microcells. Other applications include sensors for Counter UAS or missile seekers where microwave and millimeter wave offers avenues for small size.

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.)

Form Generated on 03-05-18 17:24