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Nine Dryden Small Business Innovative Research Projects Approved For Phase II
October 6, 2011

SBIR Small Business Innovative Research Nine companies were selected to do Phase II Small Business Innovative Research work in areas of interest to Dryden. The following list looks at the concepts:

  • Systems Technology of Hawthorne, Calif., earned an SBIR agreement for its Smart Adaptive Flight Effective Cue, or SAFE-Cue, proposal. Piloted simulation studies conducted under a previous SBIR agreement prevented loss of a simulated aircraft's control by providing tactile cues to the pilot through the control stick. Simulation tests also verified the ability to prevent adverse pilot interaction with adaptive control laws used to allow a damaged aircraft to be flyable in conditions such as the failure of a flight control surface. An STI partner, Barron Associates, developed the adaptive control laws used in Phase I, which will also be used in Phase II work.

    Phase II work will advance this technology for a prototype system that will be evaluated with a series of flight tests using a Learjet provided by another STI partner, Calspan. SAFE-Cue can be applied to any modern flight control system regardless of whether it uses an adaptive controller. It is envisioned that SAFE-Cue software will significantly and economically increase safety for commercial transport and military aircraft.
  • Systems Technology also was awarded an SBIR agreement for another safety enhancement, real-time methods for adaptive suppression of adverse aeroservoelastic dynamics. Adverse aeroservoelastic interaction is a problem on aircraft of all types causing repeated loading, enhanced structural fatigue, undesirable oscillations and catastrophic flutter. The developed adaptive aeroservoelastic suppression algorithms and subsequent real-time piloted validation simulations will benefit NASA flight test programs by providing a solution for rejecting adverse aeroservoelastic dynamics. Such conditions include flight condition changes, configuration changes and damage and failure scenarios. Potential benefits also include adverse dynamic suppression in manned and unmanned spacecraft systems.
  • The Numerica Corp. of Loveland, Colo., was awarded an SBIR agreement for the company's estimation and prediction of unmanned aerial vehicle trajectories, a potential element of integrating unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, into the national airspace.

    A key goal of NASA's NextGen Airspace plans is to add UAVs safely into the national airspace. Many UAV aircraft lack a sense-and-avoid capability to mitigate collision risk, a challenge that prevents government and private contractors from using these platforms for routine operations in the national airspace. Development of target-state estimation and trajectory prediction algorithms could be a step toward routine use of UAVs for missions such as homeland security, Earth science and disaster assessment.
  • VIP Sensors of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., was awarded an SBIR agreement for a fiber optic pressure sensor array. VIP Sensors proposes a fiber optic pressure sensor array system for measuring airflow pressure at multiple points on the skin of aircraft for flight-load test applications. The proposed technology is applicable to such different types of sensors as accelerometers, pressure and strain gages. Each sensor in the array is designed to work at discrete optical wavelengths.

    Testing of aircraft requires a large numbers of sensors, each requiring four to six interconnecting wires. For large systems, this means large numbers of wires that add weight and occupy space. The proposed system not only has the potential to significantly improve pressure measurements for flight load testing, but its micro-miniature networking optical sensors will benefit many other aircraft ground and flight testing applications and aircraft, satellite and ship monitoring.
  • Aries Design Automation of Chicago is funded for additional work on its reconfigurable very-long instructional word, or VLIW, processor for software-defined radio. The company's technology could have applications to radiation-hardened flight-control computers that NASA uses in many space missions, including Deep Impact, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Rovers.

    The VLIW processor will have reconfigurable functional units and specialized instructions that will be optimized for Software Defined Radio applications. The radiation hardening will be done at the micro architectural level with a mechanism that will allow the detection and correction of all timing errors – caused not only by radiation, but also by variations in voltage, frequency, manufacturing process and chip aging. The work will result in technology that allows for very quickly designing and verifying radiation-hardened and reconfigurable VLIW processors that are binary-code compatible.
  • Firestar Engineering of Mojave, Calif., intends to advance the technology readiness level of its Nitrous Oxide fuel blend, or NOFBX, monopropellant Mars ascent vehicle, or MAV, engine. A compact, three-engine cluster provides thrust-vector control passively with its fixed, canted engine nozzles and flow control valves. The concept is intended for use on planetary ascent vehicles but could also be used for the upper-stage engines on a launch vehicle.

    The clustered engine concept coupled with an NOFBX monopropellant and feed system will allow the company to provide a single-stage-to-orbit MAV engine. Success could significantly simplify the MAV architecture. The technology could also be applied to planetary-sample-return rocket engine stages, upper-stage launch vehicle and kick motors and small launch-vehicle engines.
  • Busek Company of Natick, Mass., will continue development work on its magnesium-based rockets for Martian exploration. Busek will test multiple metal fuel and oxidizer combinations and then will design, build and test an integrated rocket and propellant management system.

    The company has validated that magnesium can be combusted with carbon dioxide, water and hydrogen peroxide, all of which may be obtained from the Martian surface or atmosphere. Methods for storing, delivering and igniting the propellant have been identified, and combustion experiments have been carried out.

    This "green" technology could be used for Martian payload ascent vehicles, Martian rocket-propelled transports, lunar transit and ascent vehicles and satellites and service modules. The technology also has applications to satellite station-keeping, repositioning, attitude control, rendezvous, docking and separation, multi-mode propulsion systems, launch vehicle upper stages, and air, surface and submarine applications on Earth.
  • Ultracor of Livermore, Calif., will advance work on its C-SiC and SiC-SiC honeycomb materials for advanced flight structures, which are capable of operating at 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit with reduced oxidation that occurs with carbon-carbon materials. It is anticipated the C-SiC and SiC-SiC honeycomb materials for advanced flight structures are materials that could be produced more economically than can other available materials and could enable construction of future hypersonic flight vehicles.

    A C-SiC honeycomb for advanced flight structures project Phase I SBIR effort demonstrated the feasibility and efficacy of a lightweight, C-SiC high-temperature core system capable of operating at the temperatures experienced during hypersonic flight. These results demonstrate that this material is a good candidate for use in building an aircraft for the extreme temperatures of hypersonic flight. Further validation of the C-SiC material, to demonstrate its longevity, and the development of a SiC-SiC material is what this research is expected to achieve.
  • Zona Technology of Scottsdale, Ariz., will pursue research to develop a comprehensive on-line flutter prediction tool for wind-tunnel flutter testing using parameter varying estimation, or PVE, methodology. Specifically, this tool will be applied to rapidly evaluate parameters, such as modal damping and frequency, which are required to assess the flutter boundary of a wind-tunnel model in pre-flutter test conditions. The tool can also be applied to the flight flutter test for envelope expansion prediction to help ensure the safety of the pilot and aircraft.

    Zona envisions that the proposed Phase II research effort will result in a commercial product called the PVE Toolbox. The PVE Toolbox will be a crucial technology for the flight flutter test of next-generation aircraft, such as the NASA Hybrid Wind Body Configuration and Quiet Supersonic Transport.
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