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Tethers Unlimited Signs 4 NASA SBIR Phase I Contracts

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
May 22, 2013
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Tethers_Unlimited_LogoBothell, WA, 22 May 2013 (TUI PR) –– Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) has signed four NASA Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contracts to develop novel space technologies that could dramatically lower the cost of space exploration and development missions.

The “Trusselator” effort will develop a system for on-orbit fabrication and integration of solar arrays using a combination of 3D printing and automated composite layup techniques. The Trusselator™ system will leverage the patent-pending “SpiderFab™” additive manufacturing technologies for on-orbit fabrication that TUI has invented under funding from DARPA and NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The Trusselator system will enable affordable deployment of large solar arrays providing many tens or hundreds of kilowatts of power to support solar-electric propulsion missions and space solar power systems.

The “Sensing and Positioning on Inclines and Deep Environments with Retrieval” (SPIDER) effort will develop technologies to enable robotic exploration systems to use launchable, anchored tethers to traverse craters, ravines, and other difficult terrain on asteroids and planetary bodies.

The “SWIFT-NanoLV” effort will develop a suite of economic, lightweight, compact, and reliable avionics to enable nano- and micro- launch vehicles to deliver small spacecraft into orbit with affordable costs.

The “SWIFT-HPX” effort will develop a high-speed Ka-band transceiver for CubeSats and nanosats to enable these small, low-cost spacecraft platforms to perform missions requiring high-speed cross-links and downlinks. The SWIFT-HPX communications system will combine TUI’s high-performance SWIFT™ software-defined radio with an innovative conformal antenna to enable 100 Megabit-per-second data transmissions between smallsats as well as to ground stations.

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