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November 4, 2003
NASA - Dryden Flight Research Center - News Room: News Releases: SIX HIGH-TECHNOLOGY FIRMS RECEIVE DRYDEN SBIR GRANTS


November 4, 2003

Release: 03-56

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Six small high-technology firms have been selected by NASA Dryden Flight Research Center to receive research and development grants under Phase II of NASA's Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program.
The six firms' proposals were among 145 selected for funding by NASA overall under the agency's 2002 SBIR program, and are valued at up to $600,000 each over a two-year performance period. Three of the firms are located in California, the remainder are in Virginia, Texas and New Mexico. The proposals fall into three research areas defined in the SBIR process, including aviation safety, engineering for complex systems and enabling concepts and technologies.

The firms and the titles of their winning proposals include:
  • Adherent Technologies, Inc., of Albuquerque, N.M., UV rigid inflatable wing;
  • Williams-Pyro, Inc., of Fort Worth, Texas, Embedded dual-function arc fault circuit breaker/locator based on OSA;
  • MATRA of Carmel, Calif., Finite element-based fracture mechanics using multidisciplinary approach;
  • MetroLaser, Inc., of Irvine, Calif., Optical sensor for detection of fatigue damage precusors;
  • Tao of Systems Integration, Inc., of Williamsburg, Va., Real-time aeroelastic measurement system (RAMS) for in-flight flutter testing;
  • Rolling Hills Research Corporation of Torrance, Calif., Robust flow control for radically enhanced natural laminar-flow wings.
Rodney Bogue, NASA Dryden's SBIR program manager, said the proposals were chosen based upon each firm's performance with an earlier Phase I SBIR project.

"Phase I awards are for the purpose of proving a proposed concept, and are funded up to a maximum of $70,000 for a six-month period," Bogue explained. "Phase II selections are made from high-performing Phase I projects, and are oriented to development of a marketable product. Between 40 and 50 percent of Phase I contracts are selected for the Phase II follow-on."

Overall, 119 small, high-technology firms in 29 states will share in about $86.5 million in SBIR Phase II grants awarded by NASA this year, with several receiving more than one contract. The 145 projects funded were selected from 251 proposals submitted by firms completing SBIR Phase I projects. Each proposal was evaluated to determine if it met SBIR Phase I objectives and if it was a feasible research innovation to meet the aerospace agency's needs.

The NASA SBIR program is intended to stimulate technological innovation, increase the use of small business – including those firms owned by women and minorities – in meeting federal research and development needs, and increase private-sector commercialization of innovations derived from federally funded research. The program is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., with oversight from NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology, Washington, D.C. Individual SBIR projects are selected and managed by each of NASA's 10 field centers.

SBIR Phase II project summaries

Bogue provided the following summaries of each winning proposal:
  • Adherent Technologies, Inc., UV rigid inflatable wing: The ability to rapidly deploy rigid structures in the atmosphere or in space is a major benefit to many types of terrestrial and space-based missions. Under this grant, Adherent Technologies will develop and assess the performance of materials configured as structural elements in applications such as space-based antennas, satellite structures, and mirrors. The materials will also have applications for remotely operated aircraft, and terrestrial spinoffs such as splints for medical treatment and inflatable shelters. The innovative aspect of this concept is the ability to deploy a flexible object of specially formulated material and through a rapid curing process based on ultra-violet light irradiation, transform the object into a stiff and rigid load-bearing structural element.
  • Williams-Pyro, Inc., Embedded dual-function arc fault circuit breaker/locator based on OSA: The contract calls for the firm to develop a miniaturized system to locate the position of electrical faults in aircraft cables. This capability increases aircraft safety by detecting cable faults and will shorten the time needed to find and repair cable defects.
  • MATRA, Finite element-based fracture mechanics using multidisciplinary approach: This activity will develop the understanding of how to analyze and predict mechanical failures in materials using existing analytical methods. This capability would allow mechanical failures to be predicted in aircraft and space vehicles, thus increasing overall safety.
  • MetroLaser, Inc., Optical sensor for detection of fatigue damage precursors: Over 90 percent of mechanical failures are the result of fatigue damage. MetroLaser's SBIR work will develop and evaluate a material fatigue sensor capable of monitoring the onset of fatigue, so that incipient failures can be identified and repaired before failure to improve safety.
  • Tao of Systems Integration, Real-time aeroelastic measurement system (RAMS) for in-flight flutter testing: Unsteady surface airflow information on conventional aircraft wings and helicopter blades is needed during flight testing and is useful for health monitoring to avoid dangerous conditions such as flutter (uncontrolled vibration) and buffet. This activity will develop and evaluate conformal surface flow detectors to assess structural interactions and avoid dangerous situations to improve the safety of aircraft flight testing.
  • Rolling Hills Research Corporation, Robust flow control for radically enhanced natural laminar-flow wings: A technique called stagnation point control can be used to substantially improve aircraft wing performance (reduce aerodynamic drag and increase lift) by increasing the range of natural laminar or smooth airflow over the wing. This work will focus on validating a compliant-structure trailing-edge flap system, developed in the Phase I work, for stagnation point control.


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