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Handheld Celestial Navigation System

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Special Operations Command
Contract: H9240521P0006
Agency Tracking Number: S203-002-0078
Amount: $150,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: SOCOM203-002
Solicitation Number: 20.3
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-02-23
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-08-26
Small Business Information
904 Filbert St.
San Francisco, CA 94133-2606
United States
DUNS: 117547594
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Robert McHenry
 (650) 218-8048
Business Contact
 Robert McHenry
Phone: (650) 218-8048
Research Institution

CelNav systems are currently deployed in aerospace systems, but they depend on unobscured views and relatively smooth and predictable motions over long periods of time. Using these systems for SOCOM ground operations defined by highly variable viewing angles and motion profiles goes well beyond simple adaptation, requiring fundamentally new approaches for select sub-systems associated with primary sensor stabilization. This project will conduct a feasibility study for an automated handheld CelNav system using a reference architecture built around the capabilities of microelectromechanical (MEMS) technologies to provide the necessary stabilization capabilities. Put simply, MEMS are computer chips that contain physically moving features as well as electronics. MEMS are best known for accelerometers that are ubiquitous in handheld electronics, but there are many other types of MEMS devices. One class of MEMS device that may be a key enabler of handheld CelNav is a micromirror array. MEMS micromirror arrays contain fields of digitally controllable mirrors, which together form a large aperture, but because of their individual small size, can achieve performance well beyond conventional mirrors and optics. An emerging class of these devices, known as a Lightfield Directing Array, provides a combination of high-speed response over a wide field of regard, highly-accurate angle measurement, and the robustness to maintain accuracy under extreme shock and vibration disturbance. Because each element of the Lighfield Directing Array is fully digitally controlled in 3 dimensions, it opens up a world of higher-order functions such as dynamically creating sub-arrays to track multiple bright stars simultaneously or focusing the entire array to measure dimmer stars during daylight, generating high-frequency motions for precise interferometric angle measurements, and potentially performing adaptive optic functions to correct for atmospheric distortion. The Lightfield Directing Array, together with other MEMS components, may offer the ideal solution for compact, robust, high mobility CelNav system suitable for SOCOM operations

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

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