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SBIR Phase I: ThermaSat - A Solar Thermal CubeSat Propulsion System
Phone: (480) 250-6820
Phone: (480) 250-6820
The broader impact of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Project addresses the need for small, low-cost satellites in space to have on-board propulsion capabilities. The advent of small satellites is opening space to entrepreneurs and researchers to improve telecommunications, monitor climate patterns, and conduct other activities. Unfortunately, many of these small satellites have no method of maneuvering in space, and so their capabilities are limited. Satellite propulsion allows for small satellites to achieve three major goals. First, they can reach their preferred orbit without diverting the launching spacecraft. Second, they can make minor adjustments to their orbits for many years, ensuring they do not re-enter the atmosphere prematurely. And third, at the end of the mission they can de-orbit themselves and avoid becoming dangerous space debris. An onboard propulsion system will be necessary for the satellite infrastructure of the future. By developing this technology now, we can overcome a major obstacle in space exploration and assist humanity in expanding to the stars. This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I Project is to develop a green, inexpensive, and effective small satellite propulsion system. Equipping CubeSats and other small spacecraft with onboard propulsion will drastically improve their technological capabilities and ensure they deploy, function, and de-orbit safely. The system functions by selectively filtering sunlight to heat water to high temperatures by limiting radiative heat emissions. The high-temperature steam is exhausted through a nozzle and can control the satellite with high efficiency. The major goal of this effort will be to experimentally and computationally model optical system performance. Other goals will be to validate that the thermal and structural systems are suitable for ground launch and operation in space. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *