An Ultra-Compact Star Tracker for CubeSats

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA9453-11-M-0098
Agency Tracking Number: F103-091-1612
Amount: $99,948.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: AF103-091
Solicitation Number: 2010.3
Small Business Information
P.O. Box 71, Hanover, NH, -
DUNS: 072021041
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Paul Ph.D.
 Principal Investigator
 (603) 643-3800
Business Contact
 James Barry
Title: President
Phone: (603) 643-3800
Research Institution
ABSTRACT: Creare proposes to design, develop, test, and deliver an ultra-compact star tracker specifically intended for the CubeSat platform. Our design is based on proprietary"folded optics"technology previously developed by our partner for use in military and commercial optical applications that require a compact footprint and high performance. The folded optics design is superior to conventional refractive optics in miniature star trackers because (1) the compact footprint is achieved without sacrificing accuracy; (2) the light gathering aperture is much greater, leading to better sensitivity; (3) the aperture geometry makes the shielding baffles smaller; and (4) the imaging sensor can be shielded efficiently from cosmic radiation. Our preliminary design far exceeds the requirements listed in the solicitation topic and promises to enable the Air Force to rely on CubeSats for space weather missions. During the Phase I project, we will demonstrate the feasibility of our innovation by finalizing the design, performing analysis to determine the optimal design parameters, and testing a bench top prototype to verify the design models. In Phase II, we will fabricate the optimized design, test the prototype in the laboratory and in the field, and deliver the prototype to the Air Force. BENEFIT: Many Air Force, NASA, and commercial missions are exploring the use of pico- and nano-satellites as alternatives to expensive, large satellites. In order to enable many mission profiles, these satellites need attitude determination sensors. Our star tracker will enable highly precise attitude determination in a package that is significantly smaller, much lower mass, and uses less power than any alternative star trackers on the market. As the market for and uses of small- and nano-satellites increases, the demand for our star tracker will increase to enable missions that are not possible with today"s technology.

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

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