The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced
the award of a number of research contracts under NASA’s Small Business
Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

Five of 12 SBIR Phase 2 research proposals recommended by NASA’s Dryden
Flight Research Center at Edwards, Calif., were among the 126 proposals
selected for funding by the agency. The contract awards, covering specific
research activity, are valued at up to $600,000 each over a two-year
performance period. In addition, a sixth firm was awarded a SBIR Phase 3
contract for a continuation of work previously funded under SBIR Phase 1 and
2 awards.

Rodney Bogue, Dryden’s SBIR program manager, said Dryden is responsible for
both contract management and technical oversight of the projects at each of
the six firms whose proposals were selected.

Several proposals involve flight research and development projects at
Dryden, and all six relate to advanced aeronautical engineering concepts
which may be flight tested at Dryden in the future.

“The intent of these SBIR Phase 2 contracts is to continue the Phase1
concept demonstration with a focus on bringing the technology to the
marketplace as commercially viable products, useful to both NASA and other
members of the aerospace community,” Bogue said. “When successful commercial
products result from these activities, users of these technologies may
quickly obtain these products at reasonable cost for use in existing
applications, thereby reducing the need for development funding. This
reduces the cost of government, and at the same time strengthens the
nation’s small businesses,” Bogue added.

The firms selected for contract awards with NASA Dryden include:

SBIR Phase 2:

* Luna Innovations, Blacksburg, Va. – SiC Fiber Optic Sensors for Turbine
Engine Monitoring. Luna Innovations will develop high-temperature optical
sensors from high-temperature SiC (silicon carbide) material that can
measure temperature, acceleration, pressure and skin friction on aircraft
structures. The sensors, which are both rugged and capable of sustained
operation at temperatures up to 1,500 degrees Celsius, may be used to obtain
measurements to help optimize the performance of turbine engines and
hypersonic aircraft.

* Eltron Research, Inc., Boulder, Colo. – Aircraft Engine Oil Health Sensor.
Eltron Research will develop a portable, fiber optic-based monitoring device
capable of measuring oil condition inside turbine aircraft engines. Engine
oil must provide reliable lubrication and cooling for internal turbine
engine components, and the oil condition index is a key measure of this
capability and engine health in general. The modular analyzer will benefit
virtually any turbine-powered aircraft on which it is installed by providing
fast, real-time analysis of oil condition.

* Astra Technologies, Inc., Venice, Fla. – Upper and Lower Bounds in Finite
Element Analysis of Aerospace Structures. Astra Technologies has proposed
development of a general-purpose finite element structural analysis program
to aid the design of aerospace vehicle structures. Finite element analysis
provides the engineer with predictions of engineering structural
performance, but requires substantial computer run time for completion and
the error limits on the results are not well defined. The software is
expected to provide improved error estimates at initial condition setup,
thereby reducing the need for multiple computer runs and increasing
confidence in results of individual runs. The software program could benefit
a number of ongoing NASA Dryden flight research projects, including the
X-38, the X-43A and the Active Aeroelastic Wing.

* Scientific Systems Co., Inc., Woburn, Mass. – Aircraft Prognostics and
Health Management, and Adaptive Reconfigurable Control. Scientific Systems
has proposed a fault detection, isolation and recovery system for aircraft
electromechanical actuators. Aircraft operational safety relies heavily on
robust actuators to reliably position the control surfaces for aircraft
control. Based on a multiple-model, switching and tuning technique, the
system would compare the actual performance of an aircraft with models that
simulate both healthy and failed systems. This will provide rapid detection
of failures. The system could benefit a wide array of military, commercial
and research aircraft. * AI Signal Research, Inc., Huntsville, Ala. – Novel
Spectral Enhancement for Incipient Fault Detection of Rotating Machinery. AI
Signal Research has proposed an advanced and commercially viable health
monitoring system to detect changes in machinery operation that indicate
impending failure. The approach uses an advanced spectral analysis technique
to rapidly detect potential failures or faults in rotating machinery. The
system would benefit both aerospace vehicles and other industrial
applications such as power generation turbines.

SBIR Phase 3:

* Lynntech, Inc., College Station, Texas – A Unitized Regenerative Proton
Exchange Membrane (PEM) Fuel Cell Energy Storage System. Lynntech is one of
two firms that are developing prototype hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell and
electrolyzer components utilizing proton exchange membrane technology. The
technology is being considered for use in a regenerative energy storage
system being designed by AeroVironment, Inc., to power its Helios
solar-powered flying wing during night operation. SBIR Phase 3 contracts are
for the purchase of products developed under Phase 1 and 2, and all funds
are provided by the purchaser rather than from the SBIR organization.

Nationwide, 259 proposals for Phase 2 research funding were submitted by
SBIR contractors who had completed initial six-month Phase 1 study projects.
The 126 projects selected for Phase 2 grants were considered the most
promising in terms of technical merit and innovation for meeting the
agency’s needs. Among the selection criteria were the results of each firm’s
Phase 1 efforts, the value of the research to NASA, commercial potential and
each company’s capabilities. The winning projects will be conducted by 105
firms in 28 states, and have a total value of just under $75 million.

NASA’s SBIR program was developed to stimulate technical innovation,
increase the use of small business-including female-owned and economically
disadvantaged firms-in meeting federal research and development needs, and
increase private-sector commercialization of federally funded research.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. manages the SBIR program.
Individual research projects are managed by NASA’s 10 field centers.