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Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 737.98K | Year: 2015

In Phase 2 we will develop a fully integrated, autonomous free-flying robotic system based on a commercial SkyJib quadcopter, and demonstrate flying straight and level to a target location, acquisition of rock and regolith samples, and return to the point of origin. The work plan for Phase 2 is as follows: 1. Completion of the Guidance, Navigation, Control, Vision, and Sample Acquisition subsystems. 2. Integration of all the payload elements at ERAU and system level check out 3. Demonstration of the entire system at NASA KSC 4. Field deployment at analog location


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.98K | Year: 2016

The World is Not Enough (WINE) is a new generation of CubeSats that take advantage of ISRU to explore space. The WINE takes advantage of existing CubeSat technology and combines it with 3D printing technology and an In Situ Resource utilization (ISRU) water extraction system. 3D printing enables development of steam thrusters (higher Isp than cold gas) as well as tanks that fit within the available space within the CubeSat. The ISRU module captures and extracts water, and takes advantage of the heat generated by the CubeSat electronics system with supplemental power from solar charged batteries. The water is stored in a steam thruster tank and used for propulsion. Thus, the system can use the water that it has just extracted as fuel to fly to another location. The WINE is ideally suited as a prospecting mission and reconnaissance mission before the mining/exploration missions are launched. In Phase 1, we demonstrated critical technologies such as (1) sample acquisition, (2) volatiles capture, and (3) various CubeSat designs. In Phase 2, we propose to develop a testbed of the critical ISRU/propulsion system (regolith -> volatiles -> tank -> thruster) and GNC technology, and in Phase 3 we will demonstrate it in space as a hitchhiker payload on a mission such as EM-1 or EM-2, or onboard the International Space Station (ISS). An ISS demonstration can extract water from a meteorite analog (brought up to ISS), use the water to fuel a WINE CubeSat, eject it into LEO, and measure propulsion performance to improve the technology as it demonstrates a change in Delta-V from asteroid-mined water. The main objective of this effort is to develop a WINE spacecraft with capability to prospect planetary bodies using its instruments, perform ISRU to extract volatiles (water), and use water in a thermal steam propulsion system to keep exploring the Solar System.


Grant
Agency: Department of Defense | Branch: Air Force | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 742.55K | Year: 2015

ABSTRACT:The 2011 launches of ORS-1and TacSat-4 have demonstrated the feasibility to rapidly deploy spacecraft. These successes and progress on the Modular Space Vehicle, along with standardization (Space Plug and Play Architecture) continue to show promise in a responsive space architecture focused on modularity and reconfigurability. There is a need to enhance the capability of small spacecraft to support this paradigm via miniaturized, high performance, and cost-effective components. Small, agile space companies can act as liasons between the commercial and space markets to leverage their strengths to ensure products are robust to the space environment, carry appropriate mission assurance and risk profiles, and can be delivered in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of conventional space components. Honeybee Robotics proposes to offer an attitude control product line tailored to the ORS charter. This product line will enhance and optimize a small spacecrafts attitude control capability at a fraction of the cost and lead time associated with conventional attitude control system designs. By incorporating modular design techniques and leveraging proven reliable commercial product lines we can offer the space mission designer ultimate flexibility and enhanced performance for the attitude control system. BENEFIT:The proposed technology is widely applicable to commercial, military, and civil space markets. The Operationally Responsive Space office is tasked with providing timely satisfaction of Joint Commanders needs which includes technologies which can be placed into theatre in a rapid, cost effective manner. NASA and NOAA are actively pursuing small satellite technologies to support increasing demands for Earth science including but not limited to weather/climate, coral reef, ocean salinity, and carbon monitoring. Commercial satellite providers have been extremely profitable providing high resolution imagery to governments and corporations alike. The proposed technology offers these customers affordable and timely systems for high resolution remote sensing and imaging applications.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.23M | Year: 2015

During Phase 1, we investigated a number of blade designs for 2, 3, and 4 blade sampler geometries. We found that blades with small apex angles can penetrate harder formations with much lower energies. We propose to develop a 3 or 4 blade design for sampling much harder (4 MPa and more) material. During Phase 2 we will initially perform more extensive blade testing to determine optimum design, we will also investigate use of pyros to deploy blades, breadboard and test force neutral deployment and investigate One Resettable vs Multiple Samplers architectures. These studies will lead to 3 vs 4 blade architecture study (Tetrahedron Comet Sampler or TeCos and Pyramid Comet Sampler or PyCoS) and downselection. The TRL 4 TeCoS or PyCoS will then be build and tested. The results will be used to design TRL 5 system. The TRL prototype will then be build and tested in a range of analog materials from 5 DOF arm to mimic 2-3 DOF TAG arm and spacecraft movement.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1.03M | Year: 2015

Under Phase 1, we investigated HT Drill, HT Trencher, and Pneumatic Sample Delivery. We found that HT Trencher and Blower-based pneumatic system won't be feasible or carried high risk associated with development of HT cutter materials. Rotary drill also did not penetrate hard rocks. For Phase 2, we propose HT Rotary-Percussive drill and 'suction' based pneumatic sample delivery. Honeybee is also submitting a separate Phase 2 for 3 DOF HT arm. If that proposal gets selected, the arm will deploy the drill and deposit the sample. The pneumatic system would still be needed to move the sample into an instrument. We plan to design and build TRL 5 system and incorporate HT motors developed by Honeybee under prior SBIR projects. The demonstration will be done in a HT chamber. We will investigate possibility of testing at NASA JPL's Venus chamber. The demo will include drilling into hard rocks and sample transfer to a mock up instrument.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.93K | Year: 2016

In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) or ?living off the land relies on exploiting local resources and in turn reducing burden of transporting supplies. NASA has determined through various studies that ISRU will be critical for both robotic and human exploration of the Solar System. ISRU is also viewed by commercial Space companies as a significant source of revenue; volatiles (mainly water) could be mined and sold as Hydrogen/Oxygen fuel to satellite operators to extend spacecraft life. Traditional ISRU architecture follows methods employed in the mining industry on earth: material is mined, crushed, transported, crushed again, processed, and waste is disposed of. However, mining concrete-hard ice and icy-soil is difficult without using explosives. Volatiles will get lost during crushing and transportation, and robotic material handling, as shown by the 2008 Mars Phoenix mission, is difficult. For these reasons, we propose the Planetary Volatiles Extractor (PVEx) Corer, which uses a drill based excavation approach and an integrated volatiles extraction plant. PVEx successfully addresses several aspects: drills can penetrate hard materials, there is no need for material crushing and transfer, if volatiles sublime, they will flow directly into the capture system. PVEx can also work with hydrated minerals. Under the SBIR Phase 2 we propose to mature the technology from TRL 4 to TRL 5/6, and in turn ready the system for NASA's next HEOMD and SMD missions, as well as commercial planetary missions.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 749.87K | Year: 2016

The goal of this project is to develop hermetic sealing technologies which can be used for the return of samples from planetary bodies such as Mars, the Moon, Comets and Asteroids, with a primary focus on induction brazing as a means of sealing a Mars Sample Return Orbiting Sample (OS) after it has been recovered by the MSR Orbiter spacecraft. During Phase 1, Honeybee Robotics investigated several techniques for providing hermetic sealing such as Knife Edge, Shape Memory Alloy, C-ring, O-ring and Induction Brazing. These were identified as promising hermetic sealing approaches which can be applied to Sample Return (SR) missions, such as the Flagship Mars SR, New Frontiers (NF) Comet SR and the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin SR, identified by the NRC Decadal Survey as the primary missions for the next decade. The sealing system would be used to store samples of rocks, soils, atmospheric gas, ice or icy-soil. Based on Phase 1, we determined that a brazing approach is the optimum method of sealing planetary samples and should be used as a primary seal. Knife edges and O-rings should be pursued as secondary and redundant (backup) seals, respectively. Therefore, we propose to design and fabricate hermetic sealing canisters and test their hermeticity to achieve leak rates of 10-7 atm cc/sec He. The canisters will be exposed to dust and thermal cycles to reach TRL 5/6 at the end of the Phase 2.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.42K | Year: 2016

Flawless operation of planetary mobility systems, excavation, mining and ISRU operations, regolith transport and many others depend on knowledge of geotechnical properties of the soil. Knowing, for example, the soil strength and its density and in turn fundamental soil parameters such as friction angle and apparent or true cohesion, will guide the design of the wheels and excavation systems and help to determine anticipated excavation energies, time, and forces. Nearly all planetary rovers to-date have experienced some type of problem due to the unknown nature of planetary regolith. The MER Spirit mission ended when the rover bogged down. The MER Opportunity rover barely recovered from a sand trap. MSL Curiosity spent over a month trying to find a safer route around a sand dune. Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle got stuck and had to be lifted and placed on firmer ground while Lunokhod managed to recover from a 'near' stuck position. Honey Robotics, therefore, proposes to design and test a prototype geotechnical tool called the Stinger, that combines soil bearing strength measurements with shear test measurements. The Stinger instrument consists of a percussive cone shear-vane penetrometer capable of measuring near-surface and subsurface soil properties to a depth of 50 cm or greater. The cone deployment is percussive, because this approach reduces penetration forces, an important consideration when a tool is deployed in a low gravity environment from a small vehicle. During percussive cone deployment, the soil bearing strength is measured. The shear vane is initially housed inside a cone and it is pushed out whenever shear tests are required. When the shear vane is out, the cone-vane is rotated to measure shear strength of the soil. This measurement can be performed at any depth. Based on results of the breadboard testing, a preliminary design for a TRL6 Stinger GeoTool will also be realized.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.16K | Year: 2016

Future Venus or Comet mission architectures may feature robotic sampling systems comprised of a Sampling Tool and Deployment Mechanism. Since 2005, Honeybee has been developing extreme-temperature motors, position sensors, brakes, and gearboxes, resulting in multiple successful demonstrations of component-level technologies under Venus-like environmental conditions. An important nextstep toward a viable Venus or Comet surface mission architecture is to combine these components and raise the TRL of the total sampling system including the Deployment Mechanism. The proposed work will leverage component development to date by integrating extreme temperature actuators with functional elements to demonstrate a complete multi-DOF Deployment Mechanism suitable for candidate surface missions.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 124.88K | Year: 2016

The Apollo 15 Lunar Module rocket plume excavated regolith which sandblasted at speeds in excess of 1000 m/s the Surveyor 2 lander 200 m away. A Curiosity rover instrument was permanently damaged during SkyCrane landing on Mars. Any future human surface missions to planetary bodies covered in regolith (e.g. Mars, Moon) would need to address ejecta created during landing or takeoff. The intent of this project is to develop a fully robotic system for building landing pads on planetary bodies. The system will excavate in-situ regolith, sort rocks according to needed particle sizes, and layout a carefully designed landing/launch pad apron to lock in the small regolith particles. To that extent, Honeybee/MTU propose to design and build a robotic tool to perform the following 3 actions: Pick up or excavate rocks, sort the rocks in three size ranges, and deposit said rocks in three layers with the purpose to stabilize the fine regolith in the secondary apron zone of Lunar and Martian landing pads for repeated landings and take-offs.

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