In the proposed Phase II STTR program, QuesTek Innovations LLC will further develop and mature improved part-scale additive manufacturing (AM) process models. Building on the success of Phase I efforts on modeling laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) of Inconel 625 (IN625), QuesTek partnering with Northwestern University will expand their proof-of-concept tools to higher length scales and new materials. Professor Gregory Wagner, Northwestern University PI, will continue to focus on improved multiscale thermal history models to achieve higher accuracy while maintaining computational efficiency. QuesTek will continue to develop their grain growth algorithm by achieving higher computational efficiency as well as higher accuracy through the increased usage of physics-informed predictions.
The objective of the Phase II program is three-fold: continue to improve on the efficiency and accuracy of the proof-of-concept tools developed in Phase I, demonstrate extensibility of the tools by applying them to a new material Ti-6Al-4V (Ti64), and integrate all developed tools into a cohesive software framework. Further, model results will be validated by a robust AM study aimed at obtaining 3D grain structure data as a function of different printing parameters, strategies, and build geometries for both LPBF-processed IN625 and Ti64.
QuesTek will utilize its expertise in the field of ICME to lead the overall STTR program with the objective of guiding the standardization and qualification of AM processing using an innovative tool set with improved accuracy and efficiency of as-printed predictions, linking the tool to QuesTek’s already mature post-printing processing simulations to enable complete and robust predictions of AM parts from-powder-to-part.
The tool proposed in this work incorporates an ICME framework to model microstructural evolution and assist in mitigating microstructural anisotropy in AM, and therefore is a valuable complement to many of NASA’s existing AM research initiatives. Given the influence of the microstructure on the properties and performance of AM components, this tool will expedite the insertion of AM components into flight-critical spacecraft applications, and will aid in the development of more advanced AM technologies.
QuesTek has collaborated with several aerospace OEMs on AM-related research, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Blue Origin, and Northrup Grumman. These companies have dedicated significant resources to improve properties and qualify AM components, and have expressed interest in a modeling tool capable of predicting properties and mitigating anisotropy at the component level.
This project will further the exceptional analysis and design work completed during the Phase I STTR effort. During Phase II, the following will be performed:
NASA is pursuing the development of a Nuclear Thermal Rocket for solar system exploration. A functional NTR design cannot occur without fuel that is tested to operational conditions. This STTR will provide the ability to test actual fuel by developing the fuel test capsule and testing surrogate fuel.
The Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory may also be testing fuel and would use the LPS-MIT team to do so.
In-orbit cryogenic propellant transfer is a key enabling technology for future long duration space exploration missions. Tank chilldown will be one of the primary challenges to be overcome to achieve refueling in space. It is envisioned that tank cooling will be facilitated by the use of spray injection nozzles, achieving high heat removal rates through phase change. Tank filling protocols such as charge-vent-hold and vented-chill-non-vented-fill are being investigated to improve the probability of successful refueling while minimizing propellant boil-off. In this collaborative effort between the Univ of Connecticut and CRAFT Tech, experimental visualization and diagnostic measurements of a sub-scale tank are being used to understand the complex heat-transfer interaction modes between the spray and the ullage as well as the spray and the tank walls. Validation datasets are being collected and used in the development of a specialized spray cooling models within a comprehensive high-fidelity Multiphysics simulation framework. The simulation framework can be used for design support, analyzing tank filling protocols and prediction of chilldown times and propellant loss as part of the refueling process in a microgravity environment.
Cryogenic propellant storage and transfer is critical to nearly all NASA’s future human exploration missions such as the Moon Gateway Mission and the more distant Mars Exploration Campaign. Successful propellant transfer in space is the cornerstone of NASA’s Reduced Gravity Cryogenic Transfer program and the technology in this program will impact it by improving our understanding of the physical processes, proving validation datasets and high-fidelity predictive tools.
The technology will be valuable in decarbonization efforts and the transition to a hydrogen economy since storage and transfer of hydrogen remains a significant challenge. The technology can also be used for design of cryogenic spray nozzles for advanced propulsion concepts, improving life support systems in space as well as cryogenic preservation techniques in medical applications.
Electro Magnetic Applications, Inc. (EMA) and the Applied Research Institute (ARI) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign propose to continue the development and validation of a user-friendly software tool for the estimation of field distributions within rocket fairings due to antennas radiating internal and external to the enclosures. The tool will include a Power Balance (PwB) method solver, a full-wave three-dimensional solver, and a multi-conductor transmission line solver. The full-wave solver will include a rigorous mode and a sub grid mode. With the rigorous mode, the entire geometry will be meshed at the same fidelity, which was demonstrated to be feasible during the Phase I contract for fairings measuring 5 meters in diameter by 15 meters long up to 15 GHz. The sub grid mode will provide an option where the user can mesh part of the problem with a finer mesh and the rest of the problem at a coarser mesh. The results from the sub grid region (i.e., the finer mesh region) will drive the larger part of the problem while still capturing reflections from structures located inside the sub grid region. This capability will allow the user to trade off accuracy and run time when so desired. The full-wave solver computational engine will be ported to run on graphical processing units (GPUs). This hardware acceleration will allow for faster solution time and larger problems that can be solved with the full-wave tool. A series of measurements will be performed with a representative rocket fairing structure. Measurements performed will include shielding effectiveness, electric field distributions, antenna-to-antenna coupling, and antenna-to-cable coupling. Performing systematic measurements that build in complexity from an empty fairing to a fairing loaded with a payload, cable harnesses, acoustic blankets, and other components will provide valuable validation data for EMA3D Cable.
The resulting capability will allow NASA analysts and eventually commercial customers to model field distributions and shielding effectiveness problems for rocket fairings due to internal and external antennas that are radiating prior or during a launch. This tool will be applicable during all stages of the design (from concept to launch) and will represent a major costs savings for NASA.
Commercial and other government agencies face similar challenges where antennas are located inside of fairings or radomes. For example, military radars can create dangerously strong standing fields inside of radomes that can start fires and cause interference to other avionics. Automotive radar companies need to understand how collision avoidance radars perform behind vehicle fascia.
Ground-to-satellite and satellite-to-satellite quantum encrypted communications, distributed sensing, and networking demand a disruptive ‘on-a-chip’ technology that permits ultra-efficient, high-speed entangled-photon generation and single-photon detection packaged to provide low size, weight, power, and cost. Building on the success of our Phase I program, this Phase II will develop and demonstrate a quantum photonics transceiver with plug-and-play modules comprising a time-bin entangled-photon pair generator, time-bin analyzers, and single-photon detector arrays, all operating at room temperature. The program integrates technology developed by the University of California, Santa Barbara, (UCSB) and Amethyst Research. The UCSB Team has demonstrated a <0.4 dB/cm loss AlGaAs-on-insulator photonics platform for entangled-photon pair generation. Signal rates >10 GHz/mW2 have been demonstrated—at least 100X faster than all other approaches and 10,000X faster than silicon integrated-photonic sources. Waveguide-integrated superconducting single-photon detectors have also been demonstrated with sub-40 ps timing jitter, sub-milli-Hertz dark count rates, unity quantum efficiency, and -40 dB crosstalk. The Amethyst team has demonstrated InGaAs and GaSb based single-photon avalanche detectors (SPADs) capable of >100 MHz bandwidth at 250 K by using gating and proprietary bulk defect passivation techniques. By integrating these source and detector technologies, the program will deliver a high-speed quantum transceiver with an entangled-photon source and on-chip photonic conditioning components (transmitter) and photonic interferometric circuits with waveguide-integrated single-photon detectors (receiver). This ‘on-a-chip’ quantum transceiver will be capable of uncompromised 'qubit' detection and demonstrate a time-bin entangled-pair QKD transceiver with plug-and-play receiver, transmitter, and detector modules at TRL 6.
There is a need to develop large Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations that can deliver high-throughput broadband services with low latency. The development of a quantum photonic transceiver is vital to meet NASA’s mission objectives for a scalable quantum network architecture, including distributed quantum sensing, improved timing, and secure communications. This program directly addresses the needs of the Deep Space Optical Communications program, which seeks to improve communications performance 10 to 100 times over state-of-the-art.
There is a pressing need for a low SWaP chip-scale quantum photonic transceiver that can provide robust and secure high-speed communications. Integrated quantum photonic devices may also find applications in quantum-enhanced distributed sensing, entanglement-based remote sensing with quantum frequency combs, LiDAR, optical interconnects for distributed quantum networks and the quantum internet.
Orbit Logic is teamed with the University of Colorado Boulder to develop the Intelligent Navigation, Planning, and Autonomy for Swarm Systems (IN-PASS) Solution, which builds on Orbit Logic’s proven Autonomous Planning System (APS) decentralized planning framework to enable the configuration and execution of collaborative mission concepts. Assessments can be performed completely virtually within an open simulation environment, or can be deployed to physical assets in a testbed or operational environment.
We apply IN-PASS to heterogeneous swarms of Lunar orbital and surface assets. For example, the satellite constellation overhead plans sensor collections in support of multiple objectives – surface asset localization and surface chemistry detection. APS plans the delivery of data products to a surface asset with high computing capacity, where algorithms are invoked and output the location of rovers and areas of interest (AOIs) for contact science. Location measurements allow Decentralized Data Fusion to maintain shared team awareness - critical to the team’s ability to autonomously coordinate. AOI events are trigger events for rovers to navigate to the location. A formal methods approach to onboard planning is employed on the rover assets that utilizes a Markov Data Process to balance performance, resource usage and safety. This is particularly important for inter-asset communications or localization - operational functions that utilize significant stored energy.
Astronauts can participate in-the-loop with these swarms using devices running interactive user interfaces that allow them to a) specify mission goals, b) receive feedback on the satisfaction of their requests as the team performs the associated tasks, c) receive and display the end data associated with their requests, and d) actually collaborate with the autonomous robots by electing to assume tasks they are well suited to perform.
IN-PASS applies to missions with autonomous control, coordination, and localization of heterogenous assets operating in dynamic environments: planetary surface exploration, survey, sampling, and characterization; surface collaborative infrastructure construction/repair; planetary orbital asset collaboration for optimized/event-based space-ground sensor collection/processing; convoys of spacecraft en-route to solar system destinations; coordinating science team behaviors for faults/anomalies. IN-PASS is suitable for small or large swarms.
Collaborative Earth observing satellite constellations, coordinated space/ground sensor systems supporting enhanced space situational awareness, coordination of data chain orchestration for data analytics, collaborative autonomous maritime (surface and underwater) missions, coordination of teams of ground orbits and/or air vehicles for science, fire detection/mitigation, search/rescue.
This project will develop a compact, robust low-power monitor for ethylene and other gases to enable space-based greenhouses.
Human missions in space will require advanced systems to maintain an environment supporting human life, and smart greenhouses are necessary for fresh food supply in long term space missions. Plants can produce ethylene through natural metabolic processes, and this ethylene can accumulate in closed environments having undesirable effects on the plants, including reduced growth, impaired pollen development and/or fertilization, leaf epinasty, flower abortion, accelerated fruit ripening, and more. Therefore, ethylene must be monitored and controlled.
Traditional analytical methods used to monitor ethylene are time-consuming, technically demanding, and expensive. Real time field monitoring, typically using conventional gas chromatography has a lot of fundamental barriers and limitations due to its bulky size, heavy weight, special carrier gases requirements and high maintenance.
Adelphi Technology LLC in collaboration with Western Kentucky University has developed a compact, portable, and robust battery-powered analytical instrument for monitoring of ultra-low concentrations of ethylene in complex backgrounds. The instrument is based on principles of analytical gas chromatography (GC) and has high tolerance to impact, temperature, humidity, and contamination. The key advantages of our technology are the utilization of scrubbed ambient air as a carrier gas and of a novel multisensory highly integrated platform as a GC detector.
In Phase I a handheld laboratory unit capable of 15 ppb detection of ethylene was built and demonstrated. In Phase II, we will build an industrial prototype and validate it in greenhouses. Automated self calibration, a distributed greenhouse monitoring system, and expanded range of chemicals will be added, along with increased integration to make a user friendly device for commercial use that could be qualified for space.
The compact, robust and low-power gas analyzer developed will be enabling for plant growth in space due to its high sensitivity to ethylene and other gases, and it can perform general air quality analysis. The sensitivity and recognition power can exceed conventional gas chromatography for many compounds thanks to novel highly-integrated detectors. The technology is suitable for application in NASAˇs New Frontiers and Discovery missions as well as for in-situ detection of evidence of life in the Ocean Worlds.
The niches we are targeting require an accurate analysis of VOCs in complex backgrounds that cannot be measured with simple sensors and leak detectors. Adelphi will target the ethylene/VOC analyzer at the markets for indoor air quality monitoring and geochemical exploration. Other applications include agriculture and plant biology, water & wastewater, food, metals & mining, and pharmaceuticals.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is seeking technologies for the in‑line measurement of ionic silver (Ag+) in spacecraft potable water systems. Ionic silver is currently baselined as the biocide to replace iodine for microbial control with the goal of maintaining the water quality during human exploration missions. To address this need, InnoSense LLC (ISL) is developing an innovative nanomaterial-enabled Silver Monitor (SilMonTM) in collaboration with Yale University. SilMon is based on: (1) customized recognition molecules (RMs), (2) ISL’s patented microelectronic sensor platform, (3) an in-line sensor array design, and (4) artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled recognition algorithm. In Phase I, ISL developed a SilMon working model and demonstrated feasibility of achieving its performance targets. In Phase II, ISL will focus on optimization and scale-up of SilMon following fine-tuning of performance through rigorous testing. AI-enabled package design, and construction of a SilMon prototype for testing under simulated spacecraft potable water systems are also planned. At the end of Phase II, a compact prototype will be delivered to NASA for further evaluation.
SilMon will: (1) Provide accurate and real-time Ag+ concentration monitoring; (2) Help optimize the microbial control in the water processor assembly (WPA) by providing feedback to maintain an adequate level of Ag+ in the water; and (3) Ensure the safety of potable water. Additionally, SilMon’s array design and the versatility of sensing chemistry will allow it to target additional analytes with simple modifications. This will further enhance the monitoring capability for potable water quality control and ensure crew safety.
SilMon will have significant commercial applications in the food industry, water and environmental monitoring, and water purification systems. SilMon can be further modified with recognition molecules targeting other ionic or organic species for broader water or environmental monitoring purpose.
The proposed innovation is a process simulation tool for thin ply composites. This simulation tool will represent major process attributes and allow users to make low risk, high quality parts. Furthermore, this tool will help to guide selection of tooling materials and processing conditions to avoid unwanted distortion, which is an issue that plagues thin ply composite parts. Phase II will focus on expanding the developed Process Induced Distortion (PID) simulation workflow, configuration and setup tool, and material characterizations to additional thermoset composite part & tooling designs and new thermoplastics composite based part configurations using Continuous Compression Modeling (CCM) processing based on Convergent’s COMPRO framework.
Using COMPRO with ABAQUS or ANSYS, the setup tool, methodology, workflow, and necessary characterizations (material, process conditions, and boundary conditions) the approach will be capable of capturing the manufacturing process-induced deformations in thin-ply composite structures. The proposed improvements will result in a better understanding of the contribution of material selection, material property evolution, tooling material properties, tool part interaction, and process conditions to the internal stress evolution and final part distortion. Thermoplastic-specific properties like crystallization morphology will be characterized over the process range of interest to quantify their impact on part distortion related to the CCM process. This understanding will be used to guide material, tool, and process changes to reduce variation and meet final part geometric requirements. This methodology and associated material characterizations, once validated, can be applied to similar structures and materials, both existing and future, considered by government and industry reducing development time (both in design and manufacturing test trials) where trade-off between geometry, performance, cycle time and costs are considered.
Reduced overall distortion and variation for a range thermoset or thermoplastic composite tubular mast geometries, materials, and manufacturing techniques. Material characterizations will be of benefit for use in the simulation of part and process and design optimization of any part/tool/process configuration developed using the same or similar materials. Simulation methodologies and tools developed for CCM processes can be used to analyze and optimize part and process designs for a wide range of both space, air, and ground based applications.
Characterized material models can be used in the simulation and optimization of process and part designs of any part / tool /process configuration developed using the same or similar materials. Methodologies developed to simulate and optimize CCM processes and part designs can result in performance and yield improvements in any application where CCM processes are applicable.
Electric Lift Augmenting Slats (ELAS) is a combination of leading-edge slats and a series of small electric ducted fans (EDFs) accelerating the air in the gap between the slat and the main body wing airfoil. The ELAS Concept provides: JATO-like (Jet Assisted Takeoff) electric-powered boost on takeoff and climb out, descent and landing speed reduction, steeper approach angles, and improved low-speed margins and handling qualities. ELAS can be added to an existing airframe or built into the wings as original equipment. It can even be designed as retractable when not in use. Rather than the EDFs being used to solely add thrust, ELAS also provides a dramatic increase in lift by increasing the speed of the air over the top surface of the wing, a form of upper-surface-blowing.
This work is built on earlier successful projects combined with recent advances in distributed electric propulsion. The distributed, small electric ducted fans alter the airflow over the wing in ways not possible with two internal combustion engines (the Custer channel-wing) or multiple large turbines (the Boeing YC-14 and the NASA QSRA).
Further, ELAS can provide improved low-speed aircraft control through both the increase in maximum lift and stall angle, and differential power distribution. Command of the power distribution has the potential to reduce loss-of-control (LoC) during critical low-speed periods and provide improved handling qualities during gusts.
While there is a big push to develop eVTOL aircraft, ELAS offers a much shorter path to near-eVTOL capability. This claim is supported by the following Phase I findings: 1) A variety of small aircraft equipped with ELAS can takeoff and approach/land with near-helicopter-like profiles. 2) Can be attached to existing aircraft or built into new aircraft: lower acquisition and recurring costs than eVTOL. 3) 50%-100% more range with more payload than comparable eVTOL. 4) next-gen battery technology is not required. 5) Uses Off-The-Shelf hardware.
Potential applications within NASA include humanitarian aid delivery via aircraft requiring STOL capability; development of a low-cost aerial vehicle for exploration and transportation with acquisition and operation costs less than many unpiloted vehicles currently in use; and ELAS applications for advanced off-field capability with piloted, optionally-piloted, and unpiloted CubCrafters aircraft. From a research perspective, ELAS has significant potential as a distributed electric propulsion Quiet Short-Haul Research Aircraft (QSRA) technology.
Market drivers for CubCrafters & similar manufacturers are centered on aircraft that provide STOL performance while also offering best-in-class useful load & cruise speeds. By the core nature of this innovation's purpose, ELAS is directly positioned to enhance all aspects of STOL operations across the industry: takeoff, climb, approach & landing, enabling further utility & larger safety margins.
Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) and Auburn University propose to complete development of a Smart Sensor Module (SSM) to enable wireless sensing capabilities in rocket propulsion systems. The SSM is an electronics interface designed to connect to trusted, flight-qualified, and commercially available sensors without altering the measurement technique. At each sensor location, the SSM serves as a node in a wireless mesh network, allowing each node to transmit and receive data while providing onboard computing for real time decision making. The SSM increases NASA’s capabilities by eliminating labor-intensive tasks such as routing and securing cables, and will improve sensor accessibility in locations that are difficult to diagnose.
In Phase I, PSI created a workhorse SSM capable of wireless communication in a mesh network, while Auburn’s aggregation methods were used to integrate the PSI sensor network with a user friendly software interface. Multiple SSMs were built and demonstrated in a single wireless network, simultaneously transmitting pressure and temperature data to the gateway with synchronized time stamps.
In Phase II, the SSM hardware design will be advanced to the final SSM product size and weight, and the integrated network will be demonstrated on one of PSI’s rocket engine test stands. This program will result in a final product at the conclusion of the Phase II program, offering a low risk, near-term transition to NASA and commercial propulsion facilities.
Successful demonstration of a smart, wireless sensor network will have significant applicability to ground testing and flight missions for NASA. Reductions in labor assigned to the design, assembly, and implementation of sensor systems will lead to significant cost savings. Using SSM’s with sensors that have flight heritage reduces the risk of installing the network in existing systems. Wireless sensors allow for diagnostics in previously inaccessible locations and smart sensors enable decentralized decision-making, making NASA systems safer.
The commercial space industry and DoD can use the expanded diagnostics and cost savings offered by intelligent sensor networks in their own propulsion systems. Power and energy industries have similar needs for real-time networks of sensors capable of high-acquisition rates. The proposed technology can be used in aircraft or oil and gas systems that require data from difficult to access areas.
Single-photon counting techniques using single-photon detectors (SPDs) are needed in a variety of emerging quantum measurement and communication applications. To meet these needs, the development of ultrasensitive, high precision quantum sensing and measurement devices (i.e. not obtainable with classical methods) will play a key role in future NASA, commercial and other government communication and analysis systems. Nanohmics, Inc. and Prof. Anton Malko’s research group at the University of Texas at Dallas is to develop a laser-pump on-demand single-photon pair source based on biexciton cascade emission in semiconductor quantum dots for correlated calibration of SPDs. Relative to the approach of spontaneous parametric down-conversion in generating single-photon pairs, the proposed technology has advantages of on-demand photon pair generation, high efficiency, low-cost, and scalability. During Phase I, we demonstrated high biexciton cascade emission efficiency in single colloidal QDs nanocrystals and fabricated bullseye antenna to enhance photon emission of single QDs. During Phase II, we will integrate commercially available off-the-shelf optics and electronics and incorporate QD-bullseye hybrid structures to construct a prototype optical system to generate single-photon pairs and demonstrate correlated calibration of SPDs.
The development of an integrated nanocrystal-based photon pair calibration source that is capable of direct correlated calibration of single-photon detectors has immediate applications in NASA’s ground- and space-based receiver, detection, and analysis systems using single-photon counting detectors such as the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) on the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), Deep-Space Optical Communications (DSOC), and Space Communications and Navigation (SCAN).
The primary commercial sector customer base will be single-photon detector manufacturers for use in calibration systems. Key detector manufacturers include ID Quantique, Excelitas, Bruker Optics, Single Quantum, and Thorlabs. With a rise in new applications of single-photon detectors in quantum sensing, communication, and computing, unmet needs in the market are increasing new solution demand.
Deployment of robots will revolutionize space exploration in the coming years, both for manned and unmanned missions; however, the success of these robots is linked as much to advances in sensors, manipulators, and AI algorithms as it is to the robustness of the underlying computational architectures that support the software & hardware. Most space missions require the use of specialized--computationally limited--radiation tolerant hardware, which in turn depends upon specialized flight software (FSW). This is as true for robots as it is for the ISS or Gateway. Because of this specialization, FSW has traditionally been developed via “clone-and-own” processes, where software from a previous mission is copied and adapted. This requires time- and money-intensive design changes that are prone to errors. Similarly, it is difficult to parallelize development, or to share components between organizations, despite the fact that many common elements exist across space missions,
An alternative approach, increasingly accepted by the space-flight community, suggests that developing and sharing component-based, reusable software will facilitate the number, scope, and innovation of space missions. This will require that complex robot and flight software is developed through the use of a common framework of shared libraries and tools. In the Phase I of this work, TRACLabs and the JHU/APL investigated the role of ROS2 in flight systems and how it might be integrated with NASA’s cFS to leverage the advantages of each. In Phase II, we propose to develop a toolkit of utilities that can help FSW developers to integrate ROS2 into their missions. We call this the BRASH (Bridge for ROS2 Application to Space Hardware) toolkit. Specifically, we aim to develop a series of ROS-to-FSW bridge utilities for message translation & conversion, networked communication, time synchronization, parameter and event management, and integration into TRACLabs' PRIDE electronic procedure application software.
The proposed BRASH software would be applicable to a number of NASA center and projects that wish to integrate the advanced robotics capabilities of ROS2 developed by the robotics community with the flight software critical for mission and safety success. These projects include:
VIPER, Gateway, OSAM Missions such as Restore-L, Orbital Debris Mitigation, Artemis, Lunar Surface Science Mobility System, Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS), Space ROS, and Mars rover systems.
With the advent of so many commercial space missions, the BRASH software could also serve to enhance a number of non-NASA systems. Specifically, our toolkit could potentially help Blue Origin, Axiom, Astrobotic, Motiv Space Systems, Tethers, Honeybee Robotics, Oceaneering, Research Institute partner APL, and any other company developing advanced robotic systems for space operations.
The purpose of sub-topic T12.05 is to demonstrate the ability to significantly improve the manufacturing processes of Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) used in human-rated spacecraft with the intention to reduce cost and improve system performance. New TPS materials and compatible additive manufacturing processes which allow deposition, curing, and bonding over large spacecraft areas are required for future NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) Lunar and Mars missions, and Science Mission Directorate (SMD) planetary missions which require hypersonic entry through an atmosphere.
During Phase 1 Goodman Technologies (GT) completed the following:
For Phase II, GT in partnership with the Hawaiian Nanotechnology Laboratory (HNL) at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, (UHM, is a Minority Serving Institution) propose an Automated Robotic Manufacturing System (ARMS) capable of Additively Manufacturing (AM) purposefully engineered monolithic CFCNC TPS and Reusable Hot Structures. Our Silicon Carbide (SiC) based 3D printable and moldable nanopastes together with SiC (Hi-Nicalon) reinforced prepreg for the molding, curing and joining of Continuous Fiber Ceramic Nano-Composites (CFCNCs) overcomes the issues of delamination and segment separation and will have tremendous payoff for spacecraft TPS and hypersonics in general.
NASA New Frontier missions and in situ robotic science missions require heat shields and thermal protection systems for Venus probes and landers, Saturn and Uranus probes, and high-speed sample return missions from Comets and Asteroids. The Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) is, of course, spearheading the efforts to expand a permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit, i.e., to the Moon and to Mars. Many large surface area TPS for spacecraft are needed.
Non-NASA applications of low cost, rapidly manufactured CFCNC TPS are Commercial Space Programs and Programs of Record for the Department of Defense. GT’s technology provides t a retrofit opportunity for missiles, missile fairings, aeroshells and other strategic air platforms and cruise missiles. The large Automated Robotic Manufacturing System will be portable to System Primes and OEMs.
The primary goal of this STTR Phase II project is predictive modeling of E-sail spacecraft thruster performance using a high-fidelity computational approach. We plan to develop parallel 3D Particle-In-Cell (PIC) codes with improved boundary conditions to simulate interactions between the solar wind plasma and E-sail, which will be validated against thrust-stand measurements of a laboratory prototype. The work will provide NASA researchers with a knowledge base for designing, testing, and optimizing the E-sail propulsion system, and further assist in navigation and control. The proposed PIC simulations will significantly improve the state-of-the-art theoretical and computational analyses of E-sails that are highlighted in our Phase I effort. The self-consistent 2D/3D PIC approach will address a number of outstanding physical and numerical issues, such as spacecraft charging, electron gun operation, and free stream boundary conditions, ultimately leading to the development of a reduced-order model for the full-scale in-space operation. Two codes will be used to allow for verification and benchmarking of the simulation tools: Stanford University's SPIC plasma code and AFRL's SM/MURF multi-physics code. The proposed code development also offers an opportunity for technology transfer from RI to SBC and from SBC to NASA. The companion experimental work will supply extensive thrust measurements under controlled and well characterized laboratory conditions, and thus enable extensive validation of PIC models and algorithms. Upon success of the Phase II effort, we envision that the validated PIC-based approaches will be well suited to examine key issues of E-sail spacecraft controllability and optimization, including its size and layout, as well as adapting it to the changing plasma environment for in-space operations.
Astrophysics: problems involving kinetic effects with complex nonlinear interactions between electromagnetic fields and background plasma, such as cosmic rays.
Spacecraft propulsion: electric and plasma thrusters.
Spacecraft performance: plasma interactions, spacecraft charging, attitude control.
Satellite problems: contamination assessment and electric arc
Industry: space industry; plasma-controlled nano- and micro-fabrication technologies such as dry etching in lithography, low temperature direct bonding, and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition; plasma-assisted mass spectrometry.
The purpose of this project is to leverage advances in MBSE development technologies pioneered by SPEC Innovations with their cloud-based Innoslate® MBSE product and the advances in engineering design and development of Standard Operating Procedures pioneered by the Center for Air Transportation Systems Research (CATSR) at George Mason University (GMU). The goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate the application of digital assistants with MBSE and advanced SOP design methods on the design of SOPs. The digital assistants reduce modeling and analysis time of the digital-twin. SOPs are frequently overlooked in the development phase and, until now, have not been supported directly for MBSE digital-twin modeling and analysis.
The ASOPDA will be initially applied to NASA's aviation safety programs, but should have applicability to all of NASA's work. Other specific digital assistants using this approach can be developed for other areas and missions, including Artemis. A short-list of general areas includes:
-Mission Control (International Space Station, satellites)
-Extravehicular Activities (EVA) procedures
-Space and aircraft maintenance procedures
SOPs are used by many other organizations for developing and operating aircraft. Some of the organizations that have expressed interest in this kind of digital assistant include:
-U.S. Navy Strategic Warfare Syste
-Swiss International Air Lines
-Boeing Commercial Aircraft Group (BCAG)
-Honeywell Technology Center
Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI), in collaboration with a Research Institution, proposes to further mature a new fuel cell design utilizing a solid electrolyte technology that will meet NASA’s target specifications of (i) cycling through very low temperatures (<150K) to survive storage during lunar night or cis-lunar travel; (ii) recovery of >98% of its mechanical, electrical, and chemical performance post cycling; (iii) capability to process propellants and tolerate standard propellant contaminants without performance loss; (iv) capability to sustain high pressures and vibration loads; and (v) achieving current density of >300 mA/cm2 (for >500 hrs), transient currents of >750 mA/cm2 for 30 seconds and slew rates of >50 A/cm2/s. The fuel cell consists of a solid electrolyte in an innovative design configuration and internal reforming catalysts, allowing fuel cell operation with propellants. The innovative cell design and integration of reforming elements demonstrated effective fuel cell operation with tolerance to extreme temperature swing, thermal cycling, and large differential pressure. A high-performing fuel cell design was successfully fabricated and optimized in Phase I, and its performance experimentally evaluated. Extreme thermal cycling capability to <150 K, with fast heat-up to its operational temperature was also demonstrated. At the end of Phase I, a clear path towards a Phase II prototype was described, where a breadboard hardware will be developed, demonstrated, and delivered to a NASA facility for demonstration testing. PCI’s approach will result in a system that will be much smaller, lighter, and more thermally effective than current or prospective alternative technologies. This effort will be valuable to NASA as it will significantly reduce the known mission technical risks and increase mission capability/durability/extensibility while at the same time increasing the TRL of the fuel cells for lunar/Mars power generation and ISRU application.
Potential NASA applications include future power generation systems from propellants and LOX initially for lunar bases and supporting upcoming Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS). The systems have applicability over a broad range of mobile and stationary lunar surface systems, including landers, rovers, robotic rovers, and various science platforms. Key potential customers include NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), NASA Glenn Research Center, NASA Johnson Space Center, and private sector customers.
Non-NASA applications include automotive, defense, and distributed power generation opportunities which rely on fast start, vibration tolerance, and high efficiency. Also, SOFC-based military generators/vehicle APU’s, commercial vehicle APU’s and stationary fuel cell Combined Heat & Power (CHP) applications seeking a more cost-effective, lightweight, durable, and power dense fuel cell stack.
Multi-satellite swarms are becoming very popular due to their low costs and short development time. Instead of large and costly monolithic satellites, small satellite swarms can be flown as distributed sensing platforms for atmospheric sampling, distributed antennas, and synthetic apertures among other exciting applications, delivering an even greater mission capability. This project contributes to the development and demonstration of a mission operations system for robust, coordinated operation of mobile agent swarms in dynamic space environments. Through a collaboration with the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, Interstel Technologies’ Comprehensive Open-architecture Solution for Mission Operations Systems (iCOSMOS) will be enhanced to coordinate and control swarms of space vehicles and other assets. The proposed iCOSMOS-Swarm will enable systematic motion planning, robust state estimation, and coordination for multiple agents.
The major tasks include (1) the development of a scalable multi-agent coordination module to coordinate, control, and guide a large agent swarms, a multi-nodal software architecture for diverse (heterogeneous) assets, and a multi-agent state estimation module for robust navigation, (2) enhanced system performance with improved data handling and synthesis, message passing and dynamic nodal configuration, and (3) significantly enhanced simulation capabilities to support up to dozens of simultaneous nodes, end-to-end simulation of 20 satellite nodes in real time or up to 1000x real time or more, and full visualization of the mission plans before execution. The anticipated results include the software source code for iCOSMOS-Swarm and the results from a baseline benchmark missions with one microsat and 4 CubeSats to collect dynamic, multi-dimensional data sets over a wildfire outbreak or similar events through the use of multiple detectors, spread out in time, space and spectrum.
iCOSMOS-Swarm will enable scalable mission control supporting multiple and heterogeneous assets simultaneously. This coordination improves support for remote sensing of terrestrial or planetary missions (Earth, lunar, Mars), utilizing diverse NASA assets such as aerial, ground, subterranean, and underwater agents. Example missions include tracking of dynamic events (e.g. wildfires) and monitoring of environmental conditions (e.g. climate change) where swarms of agents will provide improved remote sensing outcomes over large areas and volumes.
iCOSMOS-Swarm will benefit companies in agriculture, forestry, environmental management, emergency services, utilities and insurance, also federal, state, and local governments. It is cost-effective, open-source, highly customizable, supports heterogeneous assets in a variety of contexts, including unmanned vehicles. iCOSMOS-Swarm is ideal for those in need of affordable swarm control solutions.
The overall goal of this NASA STTR mult-phase effort is to develop a compact fully integrated tunable narrowband bi-photon source operating in the visible/IR spectral region for calibration and characterization of high-performance transition-edge sensors (TES) arrays under development at NASA Goddard as well as other research facilities throughout U.S. The key innovation in this effort is combining waveguide-based spontaneous parametric down-conversion (SPDC) with onboard wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) and mode filtering for efficient generation, wavelength sorting, and fiber coupling of narrowband photon pairs in the near-to mid-infrared (IR) spectral region. Phase I of this effort established the feasibility of this approach through demonstrating coincidence at the output of two arms of periodically poled lithium niobate (PPLN) chip with integrated wavelength division multiplexing (WDM). This approach is enabled by combining AdvR's expertise in fabrication, poling, and packaging nonlinear optical waveguides with the University of Illinois Urbana Champaigne's (UIUC) demonstrated experience with high precision photon counting and quantum optics. The outcome of this multi-phase STTR will significantly advance the state-of-the-art narrowband bi-photon sources for system calibration of single photon counting detectors and energy-resolving single-photon detector arrays in the mid-IR, near-IR, and visible spectral regimes.
Characterization, optimization, and calibration of photon-starved detectors for space-based applications in the difficult-to-characterize mid-IR region; quantum repeater-based satellite quantum network; quantum metrology for precision space-based navigation; entanglement tests of quantum and gravitational theories; high-rate quantum communication; ghost imaging; quantum telescope applications
Calibration of mid-IR detectors; quantum key distribution; quantum network devices; quantum interference with single photons; integration with other systems including quantum memories; quantum metrology; linear optical quantum computation; quantum frequency conversion
The overall goal of this NASA effort is to develop and deliver efficient, single-pass quantum optical waveguide sources generating high purity polarization entangled photon pairs for use in high-rate long-distance links. The key innovation in this effort is the use of efficient, low-loss spontaneous parametric down conversion (SPDC) waveguides in combination with apodized gratings to tailor the optical nonlinear response to create quantum optical states with very high purity. In addition, the photon pair generation rate for these devices is very high, while payload size, weight, and power (SWaP) are tiny. They offer a key technology required for deployment of space-to-ground links and future construction of a global quantum network.
• high rate, space-based quantum communication
• foundation for quantum-repeater based satellite quantum network
• quantum metrology for precision space-based navigation
• space-based entanglement tests of quantum and gravitational theories
• characterization, optimization, and calibration of photon starved detectors
• ghost imaging
• quantum telescope
• ground-to-ground and space-to-ground fiber and free-space QKD
• quantum metrology
• quantum illumination
• quantum-optics-based quantum computation
• ground-based quantum networks using fiber-optic or free-space links