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SBIR Phase II: A Solar Thermal CubeSat Propulsion System

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2111853
Agency Tracking Number: 2111853
Amount: $996,231.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: SP
Solicitation Number: NSF 20-545
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-01-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-06-30
Small Business Information
16674 N 91st St Ste 103
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
United States
DUNS: 079226342
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Troy Howe
 (480) 250-6820
Business Contact
 Troy Howe
Phone: (480) 250-6820
Research Institution

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II Project addresses the need for small, low cost space satellites to have on-board propulsion capabilities. The advent of very small satellites is opening up space to entrepreneurs and researchers to improve telecommunications, monitor climate patterns, look out to the stars, or launch their own new and unique ideas. Unfortunately, many of these small satellites have no method of maneuvering in space, and so their capabilities are limited. Having a safe, green, and inexpensive propulsion system will allow the growing small satellite market to perform many new tasks that were previously unachievable. By 2026, it is expected that the small satellite market will reach over $30 billion. By developing this technology now, users can overcome a major obstacle in space exploration.This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will develop a small satellite system capable of using water and sunlight for propulsion. 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 is able to control the satellite with high efficiency. This system is capable of extending satellite lifetimes to over 300% of an unpropelled option, avoiding debris, and performing orbital maneuvers. The major goal of this effort will be to build a prototype to demonstrate system operations. Other goals will be to test individual systems, determine lifetime, and investigate the resulting savings to satellite users. The team seeks a technology that is reliable and cost effective for expanding humanity’s capabilities for space exploration.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. *

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