SBIR-STTR Award

xEMU Lunar Dust Protection Devices
Profile last edited on: 9/27/2022

Program
SBIR
Agency
NASA | JSC
Total Award Amount
$868,418
Award Phase
2
Principal Investigator
Thomas Stapleton
Activity Indicator

Company Information

Innovative Aerospace LLC

8 Woodland Ridge
Southwick, MA 01077
   (228) 813-6680
   N/A
   N/A
Multiple Locations:   
Congressional District:   01
County:   Hampden

Phase I

Phase I year
2021
Phase I Amount
$118,418
The Primary Life Support System (PLSS), within the xEMU, helps to provide a safe environment for astronauts during lunar exploration. NASA identified seven PLSS venting items that they consider as at risk of operational degradation due to the presence of lunar dust. The intent is to protect these items from the dust that is very invasive, electrostatically and magnetically charged and tends to stick to surfaces due to its static-electricity charges. To meet this need, Lunar Dust Protection Devices will be designed to stop dust from reaching sealing surfaces or hydrophilic membranes within safety critical PLSS components. Self-sealing silicone covers will be developed to protect valves and quick disconnects until activated by crew force or venting gas pressure, while protective screens will be used to protect the membranes, which flow water vapor intermittently. The protection devices will be treated with anti-static elements to reduce lunar dust adherence and use forces, available during EVA or IVA, to encourage gathered dust to fall from them. The forces include lunar gravity, vibration generated by PLSS rotating equipment, crew impact loads while walking/working, overboard gas flow from PLSS components and crew member interaction. Magnetic brushes can take advantage of the dusts magnetic property, during post-EVA, to remove any remaining dust from the devices. The Lunar Dust Protection Devices will consume very little weight and volume and no power. Each protection device will be developed addressing specific xEMU item geometry, flow rates, flow direction, fluid properties and related human factors. Functioning prototypes will be constructed using accepted manned flight material and design practices and be tested for analytical correlation. Once proven, these design concepts can be readily adapted to other Artemis dust mitigation needs, offering NASA a common set of solutions that may be deployed throughout lunar exploration systems. Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): Many countries are interested in lunar exploration, including the USA, EU, Russia and China. Commercial manned exploration is further enhanced by interest of up to three companies competing to build the Lunar Lander. Presented passive, dust protection devices mitigate safety risks and may solve many different challenges when developing commercial exploration systems. Creating a family of Dust Protection Devices may lead to State-of-The-Art solutions applicable to a wide range of applications. Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): Dust presents challenges to many industries on Earth including coal handling, cement fabrication, metal fabrication, mining, chemical processing, woodworking, pharmaceutical, recycling and agricultural industries. The included covers may be readily applied to protect considerable equipment within these industries since the core “elements” employed to develop them are also present on Earth. Duration: 6

Phase II

Phase II year
2022 (last award dollars: 2022)
Phase II Amount
$750,000
During NASA SBIR Phase I Contract #80NSSC21C0230 Innovative Aerospace LLC developed a set of Lunar Dust Mitigation Devices (LDMDs) in response to the NASA SBIR solicitation Z13.03. It stated the desire to protect six xEMU venting components during lunar External Vehicular Exploration (EVA) from the threat that glass like lunar dust particles presents against them. It became apparent during Phase I research that mathematical models representing dust adherence and removal force and the ability to test dust mitigation devices, in a representative environment, were both lacking. Two research scientists have joined our team to develop a mathematical model during Phase II. The model intends to predict charged lunar dusts ability to adhere to xEMU surfaces and how dust particles may be removed by associated purge flows. Auburn University has previously emulated Dusty Plasma in their lab, which allows charged lunar dust to levitate above the surface. They have agreed to employ this technique to support our Phase II efforts. They intend to test a series of Protective Element samples and completed Lunar Dust Mitigation Devices (LDMD) in an enclosed chamber filled with charged, simulated lunar dust. The plan is to use observed behavioral trends and empirical data to update and ideally correlate the developed model. Having a model that predicts lunar dust particle behavior is central to the Phase II proposal. This approach allows LDMD design advancement to be based on scientific data and improves the likelihood of these elements becoming certified for flight. A set of Phase II prototypes will be fabricated using Additive Manufacturing (AM). This will allow complex internal flow geometry to be included. The chosen manufacturing technology is closely aligned with NASA intentions of using AM to reduce the logistics cost and difficulty of supplying a complex cache of spare parts. Potential NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): Many Lunar Exploration areas may benefit from Lunar Dust Mitigation Devices, primarily components that depend on inhaling or exhaling gas while prohibiting lunar dust transmission, such as purge valves and vents being protected. They may also be used to act as a breathing apparatus for astronauts within the Lunar Lander, as airborne dust presents a known crew health risk or to protect propulsion components. Development may allow dynamic movement to protect suit bearings, Lunar Rover Components and solar collection panels. Potential Non-NASA Applications (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words): Many companies are currently developing Lunar and eventually Martian Exploration equipment that may benefit from included protection devices, including Lunar Landers, robots, solar collection panels, terrestrial mining/manufacturing. Modified forms may solve related challenges on Earth, including coal handling, cement fabrication, mining, woodworking, pharmaceutical, recycling and agriculture. Duration: 24