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NASA SBIR Select 2014 Program Solicitation
NOTE: The Solicitations and topics listed on this site are copies from the various SBIR agency solicitations and are not necessarily the latest and most up-to-date. For this reason, you should use the agency link listed below which will take you directly to the appropriate agency server where you can read the official version of this solicitation and download the appropriate forms and rules.
The official link for this solicitation is: http://sbir.gsfc.nasa.gov/solicitations
Application Due Date:
Available Funding Topics
- A20: Air Traffic Management Research and Development
- H20: Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
- S20: Science Mission Directorate Select Topics
- Z20: Small Spacecraft Technology Development
Subtopic Description The Airspace Systems Program (ASP) seeks innovative and feasible concepts and technologies to enable significant increases in the capacity and efficiency of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) while maintaining or improving safety and environmental acceptability. There are two projects within ASP (Concepts and Technology Development, CTD and Systems Analysis, Integration and Evaluation, SAIE). The two projects address the following Technical Challenges: Develop tactical automation technologies for complex operational choke points including surface, arrival/departure, and dense terminal operations. Establish the basis for air/ground functional allocation for separation assurance including safe, graceful degradation of performance in response to off-nominal conditions. Develop strategic automation technologies that integrate probabilistic weather information and flow management capabilities. Conduct seamless integration of automation applications in a resilient, end-to-end Trajectory-Based Operations system. For the highest levels of NextGen performance and beyond, develop concepts, technologies, and system-wide evaluation and validation approaches. In support of these technical challenges, ASP seeks proposals in the following areas: (1) Address integrated arrival, departure, and surface traffic planning for reduced fuel consumption, noise, and emissions during congested flows through: Balanced runway usage and runway configuration management. Precision departure release scheduling. Reduced fuel/noise/emissions continuous descent arrivals with precision scheduling. Maintaining safety in ground operations through the development of concepts and algorithms for both aircraft- and ground-based surface conflict detection and resolution (CD&R) and integration of the two approaches. Developing pilot display requirements and technologies for 4D taxi clearance compliance, and taxi clearance conformance monitoring algorithms and procedures. Dynamic aircraft spacing/separation considering wake vortices. Environmental impacts will be considered as concepts are investigated. (2) Develop a tool for air traffic management cost assessment addressing: Aircraft line of flight impact to the airline and the NAS; Quantify user costs on equipage and training along with benefits delivered by the related new concepts and capabilities; Economic impact of policy decisions for new procedures on given concepts and technologies (3) Use of innovative data storage, data mining and big data analytics techniques to store, visualize and/or analyze large amounts of archived air traffic management data (radar data, weather data, traffic management initiatives, performance logs, etc.) for use by researchers. (4) Develop Airline Operations Center simulation capability to enable conducting studies to assess integrated traffic/flow management and airline operations, collaborative decision making, and advanced automated concepts to support airline operations (5) Develop decision support capability requirements to enable Single Pilot Operations (SPO) that will substitute the crew resource management (CRM) or its parts that exists in current operations. (6) Develop a functional description of airspace architectures and concepts that would enable all markets including but not limited to on-demand and scheduled mobility taking advantage of increased automation in the cockpit and on the ground through interconnected networks.
The Airspace Systems Program (ASP) seeks innovative and feasible concepts and technologies to enable significant increases in the capacity and efficiency of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) while maintaining or improving safety and environmental acceptability. There are two projects within ASP (Concepts and Technology Development, CTD and Systems Analysis, Integration and Evaluation, SAIE). The two projects address the following Technical Challenges: Develop tactical automation technologies for complex operational choke points including surface, arrival/departure, and dense terminal operations. Establish the basis for air/ground functional allocation for separation assurance including safe, graceful degradation of performance in response to off-nominal conditions. Develop strategic automation technologies that integrate probabilistic weather information and flow management capabilities. Conduct seamless integration of automation applications in a resilient, end-to-end Trajectory-Based Operations system. For the highest levels of NextGen performance and beyond, develop concepts, technologies, and system-wide evaluation and validation approaches. In support of these technical challenges, ASP seeks proposals in the following areas: Address integrated arrival, departure, and surface traffic planning for reduced fuel consumption, noise, and emissions during congested flows through: Balanced runway usage and runway configuration management. Precision departure release scheduling. Reduced fuel/noise/emissions continuous descent arrivals with precision scheduling. Maintaining safety in ground operations through the development of concepts and algorithms for both aircraft- and ground-based surface conflict detection and resolution (CD&R) and integration of the two approaches. Developing pilot display requirements and technologies for 4D taxi clearance compliance, and taxi clearance conformance monitoring algorithms and procedures. Dynamic aircraft spacing/separation considering wake vortices. Environmental impacts will be considered as concepts are investigated. Develop a tool for air traffic management cost assessment addressing: Aircraft line of flight impact to the airline and the NAS. Quantify user costs on equipage and training along with benefits delivered by the related new concepts and capabilities. Economic impact of policy decisions for new procedures on given concepts and technologies. Use of innovative data storage, data mining and big data analytics techniques to store, visualize and/or analyze large amounts of archived air traffic management data (radar data, weather data, traffic management initiatives, performance logs, etc.) for use by researchers. Develop Airline Operations Center simulation capability to enable conducting studies to assess integrated traffic/flow management and airline operations, collaborative decision making, and advanced automated concepts to support airline operations. Develop decision support capability requirements to enable Single Pilot Operations (SPO) that will substitute the crew resource management (CRM) or its parts that exists in current operations. Develop a functional description of airspace architectures and concepts that would enable all markets including but not limited to on-demand and scheduled mobility taking advantage of increased automation in the cockpit and on the ground through interconnected networks.
The Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) is chartered with the development of the core transportation elements, key systems, and enabling technologies required for beyond-Low Earth Orbit (LEO) human exploration that will provide the foundation for the next half-century of American leadership in space exploration. This new deep space exploration era starts with increasingly challenging test missions in cis-lunar space, including flights to the Lagrange points, followed by human missions to near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), Earths moon, the moons of Mars, and Mars itself as part of a sustained journey of exploration in the inner solar system. HEOMD was formed in 2011 by combining the Space Operations Mission Directorate (SOMD) and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) to optimize the elements, systems, and technologies of the precursor Directorates to the maximum extent possible. HEOMD accomplishes its mission through the following goals: Development and use of launch systems and in-space transport capabilities permitting exploration of various regions of space. Development of space habitats that permit the processing and operation of physical and life science experiments in the space environment. Development of means to return data and explorers to Earth from these in-space operations. HEOMD encapsulates several key technology areas, including Space Transportation, Space Communications and Navigation, Human Research and Health Maintenance, Radiation Protection, Life Support and Habitation, High Efficiency Space Power Systems, and Ground Processing/ISS Utilization. These areas of focus, along with enabling technologies and capabilities, will continue to evolve synergistically as the directorate guides their development and enhancement to meet future needs. In addition, operational capacity will continue to grow by including these enhancements as other NASA programs develop new mission capabilities and requirements. To generate new capabilities and contribute to the knowledge required for humans to explore in-space destinations, HEOMD is responsible for: Conducting technology development and demonstrations to reduce cost and prove required capabilities for future human exploration Developing exploration precursor robotic missions to multiple destinations to cost-effectively scout human exploration targets Increasing investments in Human Operations and research to prepare for long-duration missions in deep space Enabling U.S. commercial human spaceflight capabilities Developing communication and navigation technologies Maximizing ISS utilization HEOMD looks forward to incorporating SBIR-developed technologies into current and future systems to contribute to the expansion of humanity across the solar system while providing continued cost effective space access and operations for its customers, with a high standard of safety, reliability, and affordability.
The objective of this topic is to create human-robotic technologies (hardware and software) to improve the exploration of space. Robots can perform tasks to assist and off-load work from astronauts. Robots may perform this work before, in support of, or after humans. Ground controllers and astronauts will remotely operate robots using a range of control modes (tele-operation to supervised autonomy), over multiple spatial ranges (shared-space, line-of-sight, in orbit, and interplanetary), and with a range of time-delay and communications bandwidth. Manipulation Subsystem - Proposals are sought that address subsystems that improve handling and maintenance of payloads and assets. Proposals that would directly benefit future ISS robotics (EVA dexterous mobile manipulation and IVA free-flying robot) are highly encouraged. Key technologies of interest include but are not limited to: tactile sensors, human-safe actuation, active structures, dexterous grasping, modular "plug and play" mechanisms for deployment and setup, small/lightweight excavation/drilling devices to enable subsurface access, and novel manipulation methods; as well as, sample handling by both humans and tele-operated robots for storage and in-situ utilization/evaluation. Human-System Interaction - Proposals are sought that address subsystems that enable crew and ground controllers to better operate, monitor and supervise robots. Proposals that would directly benefit future ISS robotics (EVA dexterous mobile manipulation and IVA free-flying robot) are highly encouraged. Key technologies of interest include but are not limited to: robot user interfaces, automated performance monitoring, tactical planning software, ground data system tools, command planning and sequencing, real-time visualization/notification, and software for situational awareness. Offerors are encouraged to consider all Technology Readiness Level efforts TRL 1-8 when considering proposals for the Phase I and Phase II Deliverables. Phase I Deliverables may include - Feasibility studies, or they may support an entirely new and innovative potential solution to the Human, Robotics discipline. Demonstrations, taking adapted or targeted innovative solutions from concept through demonstrations in relevant environments and/or use case. Phase II Deliverables may include but are not limited to - Prototype or Engineering Release products that have evolved from initial concept phases into designs of enough maturity to demonstrate confidence that the product remains viable and feasible for the intended use. The ability to mature concepts along the TRL lifecycle is highly desired and should be emphasized by the offeror. Reference NASA Office of Chief Technologist Technology Roadmap OCT TA (4.3, 4.4 and 4.7) (http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/home/roadmaps/index.html)
International Space Station (ISS) Demonstration and Development of Improved Exploration Technologies
NASA is investing in technologies and techniques geared towards advancing the state of the art of spacecraft systems through the utilization of the ISS as a technology test bed. Desired demonstrations designed to utilize the ISS as a test bed should focus on increasing the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) in the following fields: Power Generation and Energy Storage (e.g., regenerative fuel cells). Robotics Tele-robotics and Autonomous (RTA) Systems. Communication and Navigation (e.g., autonomous rendezvous and docking advancements). Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems (e.g., closed loop aspects of environmental control and life support systems). Environmental Control Systems. Radiation Protection and Mitigation. Science Instruments, Observatories and Sensor Systems. Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing. Thermal Management Systems. Successful proposals in these fields are expected to advance the state of the art of spacecraft systems by: Increasing capability/operating time including overall operational availability. Reducing logistics and maintenance efforts. Reducing operational efforts, minimizing crew interaction with both systems and the ground. Reducing known spacecraft/spaceflight technical risks and needs. Providing information on the long term space environment needed in the development of future spacecraft technologies through model development, simulations or ground testing verified by on-orbit operational data. For all above technologies, research should be conducted to demonstrate technical feasibility and prototype hardware development during Phase I and show a path toward Phase II hardware and software demonstration and delivering an engineering development unit or software package for NASA testing at the completion of the Phase II contract that could be turned into a proof-of-concept system which can be demonstrated in flight. Phase I Deliverables - Research to identify and evaluate candidate technologies applications to demonstrate the technical feasibility and show a path towards a hardware/software demonstration. Bench or lab-level demonstrations are desirable. The technology concept at the end of Phase I should be at a TRL of 3-6. Phase II Deliverables - Emphasis should be placed on developing and demonstrating hardware and/or software prototype that can be demonstrated on orbit (TRL 8), or in some cases under simulated flight conditions. The proposal shall outline a path showing how the technology could be developed into space-worthy systems. The contract should deliver an engineering development unit for functional and environmental testing at the completion of the Phase II contract. The technology at the end of Phase II should be at a TRL of 6-7. Potential NASA Customers include: International Space Station Program (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html). Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/mpcv/index.html).
Two of the key challenges for microwave remote sensing (active and passive) of the Earth's environment are: Obtaining measurements of sufficiently high resolution such that in-pixel averaging affects do not introduce errors or otherwise obscure the phenomena being measured. Providing wide-area coverage such large scale systems can be studied synoptically and revisit times are sufficiently small to study phenomena with relatively rapid changes. Unfortunately, both are generally at odds with each other. For traditional fixed-beam antenna systems, improvement of resolution necessarily leads to a reduction in coverage. In order to achieve desired coverage and resolution array antenna and sensor technologies can be employed. This may take different forms, depending upon the application. For radar systems, active, electronically-steered phased arrays can provide beam agility that can be used to cover wide swaths with high resolution and can also be used to dynamically target phenomena of interest, maximizing the value of sampling time and on-orbit assets. For passive remote sensors, highly-thinned correlating radiometer arrays can provide high spatial resolutions over a wide areas and focal-plane arrays can be used to bring camera-like properties usually associated with visible-light and IR measurements to sub-millimeter wavelengths. The range of techniques described above will enhance and enable a variety of important Earth science measurements including: Surface deformations (volcanos, fault motion, subsidence), ice sheet thickness and dynamics, atmospheric phenomena such as precipitation, clouds and atmospheric water vapor. The specific technologies solicited are: Ku/Ka-band electronically-scanned linear arrays - The impacts of clouds and precipitation represent some of the greatest uncertainties in current climate models. The complex interactions in cloud and precipitation systems dictate that they be studied as a whole, whereas previous mission have only been able to study clouds and precipitation separately. To study the complete system at the appropriate spatial scales with adequate resolution requires simultaneous scanning array technology at a range of microwave and millimeter-wave wavelengths. Frequencies (simultaneous): 13.4, 35.6, 94 GHz Array element spacing (typ.): 0.65 wavelengths Transmit power per element (Ku/Ka): 25/5/1 W Transmit efficiency: as high as possible consistent with state-of-the-art Front-end losses as low as possible Manufacturing scalable to 2-3 m long arrays. Low Frequency RF Tomography Technology for Global Biomass and Ice Sheet Investigations - Global biomass and ice sheet investigations require a simple space borne low frequency (100-500 MHz) multi-channel altimeter that can measure 3-D tomography images of the Earth above ground biomass and ice sheet thickness. Doppler beam sharpening (SAR processing) will be used to obtain high spatial resolution along the track and multi-channel altimeters along the cross track will be used for obtaining high resolution in the cross track direction. Phase I Studies Requirements: Design and feasibility study of low frequency array antenna mounted along the wings of NASAs P3 like aircraft. Design must satisfy both electromagnetic and aerodynamic performances. Frequency of operation: 300 MHz, Bandwidth 50 MHz, Linear/Dual polarized. Design of RF front end and base band processing units for each altimeter channel that are phase locked with each other. Feasibility study of using multi-channel altimeter for 3-D tomography imaging of biomass and ice sheets through simulated data. Phase II Studies Requirements: Hardware realization of design completed in Phase I studies. Integration of antenna and other electronics with the selected aircraft (need not be NASAs P3). Field campaign to advance technology to TRL 6. P-, L-band Array Antennas: Innovative designs for deployable lightweight antenna arrays for airborne and space borne SAR applications are required. The array designs should meet flatness requirements, minimize stowed volumes and provide robust deployment mechanisms. The array RF performance should support < 20% bandwidth, dual-polarization, high polarization isolation (> 30 dB) phased array radar applications. The use of composite materials that can reduce the antenna weight and maintain surface flatness is desirable. Low Power Digital Correlator Systems for Synthetic Aperture Arrays: Currently this is the key required element for the array on PATH. Several technology programs are under way, but a working, high TRL system is not yet available. Phase I - Design and feasibility study of crosscorrelators with 2-bit resolution operating at 1 GHz clock speed. This includes the digitization and digital crosscorrelation functionality for correlation of 3x128 I-Q receiver outputs from three arms of the instrument. Power consumption is a major driver for the system, most likely only to be achieved by using ASIC chips. The correlator design will include housing and thermal design to demonstrate feasibility for operation in vacuum. Phase II - Implementation and testing of the correlator system. This includes desing, manufacture and functional and thermal testing of the correlator system. Testing of the system in a interferometer system, such as JPL GeoSTAR testbed will demonstrate the performance in a real instrument.
In astrophysics, science instruments are "photon starved". Every photon has to count. Efficient use of light and maximizing signal-to-noise is critical and there is always room for improvement. In many high-resolution spectroscopy systems as much as 50% of the light is lost in the spectrometer optics before it gets to the detectors. It is far more cost-efficient to improve detection systems in terms of throughput, efficiency, resolution, and noise than to compensate by making the payload larger. Spectroscopy is applicable in the UV, visible, IR. In terms of instrumentation, answers to higher photon efficiency can be answered through entire novel instrument (system designs) to single components (filters, grisms, gratings, etc.) Transit Spectroscopy, multi-object spectrographs, slit and slit-less spectrographs and associated component and subsystem technologies such as grisms, filters, etalons, etc. enable higher performance and more efficient use of the light collected. High-resolution spectroscopy for galaxy evolution, exoplanet spectroscopy for deciphering the chemical composition of exoplanetary atmospheres. High resolution spectroscopy in UV, Visible, and IR. Specific areas of research include: Image slicers. Imager slicers are stacks of optics that `slice' a field into separate regions and remap them into a pseudo-slit (or slits) that are then fed into a traditional spectrograph. This design can be used to produce an efficient imaging spectrograph that has a high fill factor. Micromirror and lenslet-based integral field spectrographs have a very low fill factor by comparison (less efficient use of pixels by a factor of 4). Micromirror arrays. Micromirror arrays work similarly to lenslet arrays in that they compress the light from a single spatial location into a focused spot. UV wavelengths however require micromirror arrays because refractive optics will not work. In addition, micromirror arrays can operate over broad bandpasses without producing chromatic aberrations. Improved dichroic filters. Dichroic filters reflect a certain bandpass and transmit another wavelength. Improved dichroic filters would enable more efficient use of separate science instruments or a single multi-band imaging instrument. Lenslet-coupled fiber optics for space flight. Fiber-fed lenslet arrays could also be used to produce a pseudo-slit in a similar way to the image slicers. The fiber-coupling losses and problems with packing the fibers closely due to the cladding have precluded their use. Improved Fabry Perot etalons. Fabry Perot etalons are some of the highest resolution spectrometers that are used for instrumentation but they suffer from high loss and large size that make them difficult to implement for space. Improvements in size and efficiency are sought for Fabry Perot etalons. Improved gratings. On chip hyperspectral imaging systems. Hyperspectral imaging is an area of continued interest in particular to Earth Science for applications such as agriculture and land use. These systems tend to be complex and difficult to implement. Approaches to integrate the hyperspectral filtering with the detector are sought.
Ambitious science goals along with budgetary constraints are driving the need to increase the science return from smaller mission classes. This has led to new interest in cubesats and smallsats as viable science platforms. To enable capable science with these smaller missions, there is a critical need to miniaturize instruments, as well as spacecraft subsystems. To this end, this subtopic solicits the development of a radiation hardened structured-ASIC platform to implement flexible instrument processing nodes. This technology would enable integration of all digital functions of an instrument onto a single device, and would also enable similar integration of spacecraft bus digital functions for a cubesat or a smallsat. As flexible instrument processing nodes would reduce board-level assemblies into individual integrated circuits, the overall size/mass/power savings provided to a mission would be dramatic. A sampling of candidate mission applications for this technology includes: Miniaturized planetary instruments such as magnetometers and imagers. Highly capable heliophysics cubesats along with miniaturized instruments to measure field and particles. Earth observing smallsats and miniaturized instruments. Low power channel readout electronics for astrophysics mission concepts require data acquisition and processing for hundreds or even thousands of individual channels. If broadly applied, the flexible instrument processing nodes may enable currently roadmapped science observations to be implemented in smaller mission classes than are currently planned. To effectively support this broad array of applications, it is imperative that flexible instrument processing nodes be implemented such that customization for specific instruments and missions is both rapid and economical. Historically, the high cost and long development schedule of spaceflight ASICs has largely precluded them from use for mission specific applications. However, the emergence of radiation hardened structured-ASICs has the potential to change this paradigm, and as such, this is the specified platform for the flexible instrument processing node. This processing node will require an aggressive adoption of System-On-a-Chip (SOC) technology, which will provide substantially more resources than are presently available. Target specifications for the platform are; embedded 32-bit processor, 50,000 logic cells, 4Mbit of embedded RAM, 500kbit embedded ROM, and 400 user I/O. While dependent on the user design, maximum clock rates of at least 200MHz and maximum power dissipation of less than 500mW are desirable. As previously stated, it is desired that the node be implemented as a high capacity radiation hardened structured-ASIC platform that can enable highly integrated, instrument specific device implementations, while offering up to a 10x reduction in development cost and schedule as compared to full custom ASICs. Environmental specifications are; radiation hard to at least 1 Mrad TID, latch up Immune to an LET of at least 80, and a device SEE rate of not greater than 0.01 event/day in Adams 90% worst case GEO environment. For descriptions of radiation effects in electronics, the proposer may visit (http://radhome.gsfc.nasa.gov/radhome/background.htm). Proposals should clearly describe: The top-level device architecture. Individual circuit elements. The routing scheme. Methodologies for radiation hardening. Overall device capacity. Expected performance and power dissipation. Fabrication process and mask programming steps. Software tool flow for user designs. Successful proposal concepts should significantly advance the state-of-the-art. If a Phase II proposal is awarded, the combined Phase I and Phase II developments should produce prototype devices that can be evaluated by NASA. It should be noted that NASA can sponsor fabrication via the Trusted Access Program Office (TAPO) for this effort.
NASAs science, exploration, operations, and technology organizations are identifying a growing number of potential applications for very small spacecraft. Such spacecraft can accomplish missions at a fraction of the cost of larger conventional spacecraft and can be developed quickly and more responsively. In order to expand and enhance the utility of small spacecraft, technology advances are needed in all subsystem areas and in particular: propulsion, power, thermal control, communications, and radiation tolerance. Certain other SBIR topics also address technology development for spacecraft subsystems and instruments that apply to small spacecraft. However, this topic will focus on development of integrated small spacecraft for applications to be described under specific subtopics. Small spacecraft, for the purpose of this solicitation, are defined as those with a mass of 180 kilograms or less and capable of being launched into space as an auxiliary or secondary payload. Small spacecraft are not limited to Earth orbiting satellites but might also include interplanetary spacecraft, planetary re-entry vehicles, and landing craft. A cubesat is a special category of small spacecraft. One cubesat unit (1U) has dimensions of 10 by 10 by 11 centimeters. Cubesats have typically been built in 1U, 1.5U, 2U, or 3U and 6U sizes.
Although many small satellites have been developed and flown in low Earth orbit, significant technology challenges exist for their operation in the deep space environment. Small spacecraft, on the cubesat scale, could potentially perform science and exploration missions of great interest to NASA at a very low cost. Small spacecraft in deep space might also provide support services for other spacecraft and operations such as communications relays or space weather sensors. NASA expects that there will be opportunities to fly several 6U cubesat spacecraft as secondary payloads on launch vehicles that could deploy these payloads on Earth escape trajectories that would take them past the Moon. One specific possibility for such an opportunity for small secondary spacecraft deployments is the first test flight of the Space Launch System (EM-1). EM-1 or similar missions would provide an excellent opportunity for testing innovative spacecraft technologies in the deep space environment. Proposals are sought for integrated spacecraft bus technologies such as guidance, navigation, control, power, propulsion, communications, thermal control, and radiation protection to enable a technology flight demonstration mission in deep space. The integrated design should enable a flight demonstration of one or more of these technologies on a cubesat (6U or smaller) in the 2017 timeframe. The flight demonstration should include mission objectives that are relevant to a deep space mission such as remote sensing or in situ science data collection activities. The development of an appropriate propulsion system to enable maneuvers such as lunar orbit insertion is also of interest. In order to minimize development cost and schedule, the design of this deep space cubesat technology demonstrator should employ mature components where possible along with the necessary new technology to allow for this very small spacecraft to survive and operate effectively in the deep space environment and communicate with Earth from the distance of the Moon and beyond. Phase I projects should focus on the definition and initial development of the needed technologies for a deep space cubesat technology demonstrator. In Phase II, the technologies should be further developed and demonstrated in relevant laboratory environments such as thermal-vacuum chambers. Projects showing sufficient merit will be considered for subsequent Phase II-E or II-X and Phase III funding to support development and qualification of a flight unit for a deep space technology demonstration mission.