Strategically Radiation-Hardened Star Tracker
ABSTRACT: In today"s limited government budget environment, the push is towards smaller spacecraft with more rapid development times (<24 months) than traditional systems, which are averaging 48-60 month development timelines. Our team has been a proponent of small satellites and the"faster, better, cheaper"philosophy. Customers can field systems with high utility, lower cost, more radiation tolerance, and high reliability in a very rapid timeframe to meet their mission needs. This trend should be embraced for a generation as the fielding of smaller systems with high utility sustains our country"s diminishing spacecraft workforce, fields a variety of key operational systems to meet a growing national defense threat, and lowers system cost through increased procurement of unique spacecraft components. The scope of this Phase II SBIR is to develop a low-cost, size, weight, and power (SWAP) strategically radiation hardened (RH) miniature star tracker (MST) with autonomous lost-in-space recovery and high-angular-rate tracking capability. The RH MST will be developed to survive and perform its mission in natural and man-made weapon environments encountered in low earth orbits (LEO), highly elliptical orbits (HEO), and geostationary orbits (GEO). Man-made nuclear weapon environments should be assumed to be added to the environments associated with natural space. BENEFIT: The first anticipated benefit of the RH MST is to provide precise, stable, and reliable attitude control for space launch vehicles and satellite systems. The benefit of the RH MST is for continued, high performance of the MST following accumulation of 300 krad (Si) of dose (proton and ionizing) and following a high dose rate from a man-made event. Our primary emphasis for the first planned product will be to focus on and respond to this requirement. As described above we will work in conjunction with established Air Force, other Government agency, and aerospace/prime system developer contacts to identify specific launch vehicles, payloads, missions, and programs where the RH MST can be applied at the system level. The global space market is expected to reach $196B over the next ten (1) years. Although access to certain elements of this market may be constrained due to ITAR, the remaining portion would still be substantial and affords significant opportunity for application of the RH MST, especially in the Government sector. Further, while our first priority is the development of a product meeting AFRL"s stated requirements for a strategically radiation hardened star tracker, we believe our design can be modified to pare costs. This would serve to preserve MST"s cost competitiveness in other markets (e.g., LEO, commercial satellite applications, etc.) where strategic hardness is not a requirement. While the DoD/Government space market is attractive, we believe there are other Government and civil market opportunities for this MST technology. For example, there is great interest within the Government and throughout the DoD (especially within the Air Force) for technologies which enhance the capability of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Driven by the war on terrorism and ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, solutions are being sought that increase the endurance, range, and effectiveness of these and similar systems. We believe it is possible that elements of the technology being developed for the RH MST may be applied in these arenas. Additionally, applications abound in Homeland Security with the need for persistent surveillance at all critical infrastructure elements and in transportation security. Further, the civil target market for this technology is broad and commercially lucrative as well. For example, opportunities exist in border and maritime management and patrol, search and rescue, traffic monitoring, and commercial satellite augmentation. Other potential applications include: - Environmental science - Border surveillance - Wildland surveillance (fires, etc.) - Coastal and maritime surveillance - Monitoring severe weather systems - Emergency services, search-and-rescue, and disaster relief - Other domestic emergencies We believe it is possible to extend the application space for the MST by adding enhanced pattern recognition capability and modifying its digital logic and optics to serve a broader range of both Government and commercial applications.
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