NASA’s Langley Research Center will lead three of 21 selected research and project proposals for the 2015 Phase II portion of NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, which was announced Sept. 1.

Langley researchers will work with three U.S. small businesses and research institutions over the next two years on projects focused on NASA’s future missions into the solar system and beyond while benefiting America’s technology–driven economy on Earth.

The 21 studies represent 41 U.S. firms and research institutions in 20 states.

Langley will work with a Virginia-based team consisting of Prime Photonics, LC and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to develop technology in advanced structural health monitoring. The technology will provide ground-based tests and flight evaluations of aircraft structures.

“This contract will provide new hardware for testing structures. Further, if their concept for structural health monitoring proves successful, this contract will provide us with a system that generates a prognosis of a structural system enabling us to identify and prioritize needed inspections and maintenance,” said Eric Madaras, Langley’s technical monitor for this contract. “The intent is to improve on the current process of conducting numerous periodic visual ground based inspections.”

The technology also has potential commercial applications for infrastructure such as bridges and railways.

Another study, proposed by Voxtel Inc. and University of Dayton, is exploring advancing existing technology to create a highly sensitive 3-D flash-lidar camera. The design will meet the need to provide 3-D mapping enabling automatic rendezvous and docking/capture as well as robotic servicing or refueling of orbital assets. The camera also has potential use for 3-D terrain mapping on Mars and other surfaces for hazard detection and avoidance.

Potential commercial uses for the 3-D flash-lidar camera include broadcasting to view instant replays from multiple angles. 3-D image frames are also of interest in driverless car development for providing an overall situational awareness of the road and accompanying activity.

The third study will build on the Phase I research to develop and prototype detector technology and an imaging spectrometer instrument for planetary compositional analysis and mapping.

Wavefront, LLC and Utah State University are developing ShortWave Infrared Focal plane Technology for Close-Range Active Mineralogy Mapping (SWIFT-CAMM) for usage on Mars rover type platforms or robotic vehicles for collecting samples. The advanced camera and spectrometer have similar commercial geological and mineralogical analysis collecting capabilities.

NASA’s STTR Program uses a highly competitive, three-phase award system that provides collaborative opportunities between qualified small businesses, including women-owned and disadvantaged firms, and research institutions, to address specific technology gaps in NASA programs. Selected projects provide a foundation for future technology developments and are complementary to other NASA research investments.

STTR Phase II projects will expand on the results of recently completed Phase I projects, which received six-month contracts valued as much as $125,000. Phase II projects will last up to two years and receive contracts valued as much as $750,000 per award. Phase III, the commercialization of an innovation, may occur after successful completion of Phase II.

Selection criteria for these awards included technical merit and feasibility, along with experience, qualifications and facilities. Also, selectees must meet requirements of effectiveness of the work plan, and commercial potential and feasibility.

NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, manages both the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and STTR Programs for STMD, with individual project oversight from across the agency’s 10 field centers.

For more information about NASA’s SBIR and STTR Programs, and a list of selected proposals, visit:

Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. NASA’s investments in technology provide the transformative capabilities to enable new missions, stimulate the economy, contribute to the nation’s global competitiveness and inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and explorers.

For more information about NASA’s investment in space technology, visit: