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Lunar Surface Network and Kinetic Delivery System

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8649-20-P-0959
Agency Tracking Number: AFX20A-TCSO1-7003
Amount: $49,999.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: AF20A-TCSO1
Solicitation Number: 20.A
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2020
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-03-06
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-06-04
Small Business Information
572 Burlington Ave NE
Palm Bay, FL 32907-1111
United States
DUNS: 081118190
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Thomas Marshall Eubanks
 (703) 341-9672
Business Contact
 Charles F Radley
Title: Chief Scientific Officer
Phone: (703) 341-9600
Research Institution
 Florida Institute of Technology
 Dr Markus Wilde
Florida Institute of Technology
Melbourne, FL 32901
United States

 (321) 674-8000
 Nonprofit College or University

We propose a mesh network system that can be deployed onto the lunar surface either with or, in advance of a new landing, either crewed or robotic, that can provide the following services: terminal navigation and landing positioning, even in the possible presence of hostile jamming or spoofing; local PNT for astronauts and robots over an area surrounding the landing site; communications relay over that same area; and site security/intrusion detection. This system will be self-constructing after being dropped into place (e.g. from orbit), inexpensive, and require low- or zero-maintenance. The system will also be expandable to larger areas or to link existing areas of coverage, e.g. two separated landing sites. It should also have the ability to patch into satellite/spacecraft communications networks to augment the main-site communications capabilities.   It will help rovers which enter the coverage area.    Each node will be encapsulated in a small (50 to 100 mm long) kinetic penetrator designed to survive and operate following an un-braked fall following dispensing from the host spacecraft. The nodes, each of which has on-board processing, communications, imaging and other sensors, would be carried on the host spacecraft within a standard COTS (Commercial off the shelf) Cubesat dispenser. The lander performs its main braking burn about 20 km kilometers above the lunar surface then continue to gently decelerate.   At ~5 km altitude the dispenser would eject the node carrier, then within a minute or two the nodes would be individually ejected from that carrier thus dispersing the nodes in an appropriate pattern. Following deployment, the nodes establish a local network using Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) RF (Radio Frequency signal), estimating direction and distance between each node as they fall to the lunar surface. After descent of about 2 minutes the nodes impact into the lunar surface at about 200 meters/sec.   After impact, the nodes re-establish the local network using both low-frequency RF (1-10 MHz [Megahertz] which can penetrate lunar regolith) and the UWB link (where possible), and use their onboard RF and imaging systems to determine their relative positions to each other and the lunar surface from surface features and astronomical sightings.  Phase I will describe how a small mesh network of nodes can survive an un-braked fall to the lunar surface from altitude & rapidly self-deploy & establish their network.   We will perform Preliminary Analysis, modeling and simulation of key system elements and network functionality.  Subcontractor Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) will perform orbital analysis and impact analysis.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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