Paragon SDC to Develop Inflatable Space Habitat with NASA SBIR Award

paragonsdcNASA has selected Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards to develop technologies for inflatable space habitats and the regeneration of oxygen for crews on their way to the moon and Mars.

“Paragon Space Development Corp (Paragon) and Thin Red Line Aerospace proposes to explore the utilization of inflatable structures by designing a habitation module as an integrated, all-fabric inflatable structural architecture, rather than modifying rigid space structural designs with an inflatable envelope,” according to the proposal summary. “Paragon and TRLA have developed several concepts with the potential to eliminate the need for hard-material support structure within an inflated habitat.”

Paragon and two of its founders, Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, are involved with Inspiration Mars, a plan to send a c0uple on a trip around Mars in 2018. Thin Red Line Aerospace has been mentioned as a potential partner in producing an inflatable habitat for the mission. The Canadian company has performed work on Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatable space structures.

For the second project, Paragon is teaming with  ENrG Incorporated (ENrG) to develop  a system that “can be used to produce oxygen from in situ planetary resources and to regenerate 100% of the oxygen needs of a crew from crew-produced CO2 and H2O vapor,” according to the proposal.

“The proposed system can perform multiple functions without modifications, making it a readily deployable technology for various missions from ISRU on the Moon and Mars to regenerating 100% of a crew’s oxygen while in transit.”

The proposal summaries are below.

PROPOSAL SUMMARY
Award: SBIR Phase I
Maximum Potential Value: $125,000

SUBTOPIC TITLE: Expandable/Deployable Structures

PROPOSAL TITLE:  Inflatable Habitat with Integrated Primary and Secondary Structure

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN
Paragon Space Development Corporation
Tucson, AZ

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER
Grant Allan Anderson

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 1
End: 4

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT

Paragon Space Development Corp (Paragon) and Thin Red Line Aerospace (TRLA) proposes to explore the utilization of inflatable structures by designing a habitation module as an integrated, all-fabric inflatable structural architecture, rather than modifying rigid space structural designs with an inflatable envelope. Paragon and TRLA have developed several concepts with the potential to eliminate the need for hard-material support structure within an inflated habitat. A key feature of the proposed solution is the focus on eliminating the need to connect to or compromise the air-barrier thus creating a structure with highly predictable load performance and minimal leak rate. The proposed activity will address primary and secondary structures in an integrated fashion with consideration of innovative approaches of addressing the assembly, integration, and deployment of all structures to minimize launch volume and mass while providing cost savings and maximizing usable living space. This includes floors, walls, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) elements, thermal control fluid loops, insulation, radiation shielding, MMOF protection, and electrical data support, while providing a stable, secure support for interior hard-goods into an all-inflatable design that can be efficiently packaged.

Inflatable structures exhibit the highest specific stiffness of any known structure and can produce significant weight savings over hybrid structural designs. Paragon’s multi-pressure vessel concept utilizes nested pressure vessels to form a multiwall structure entirely encapsulated and independent of the outer hull and air barrier material to ensure minimum leak rate. An ECLSS induced pressure differential exists between a central core, the inner habitable volume walls, and the exterior pressure hull and air barrier material. Perforations in the core and inner walls allow continuous airflow providing air revitalization and heat removal.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

The applications of the proposal are targeted for lunar surface system habitats, airlocks and other crewed vessels which include stationary vessels, deep space exploration vehicles, or crew accessible storage modules.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

Non-NASA commercial applications such as air bags, high altitude air ships, aerostats, compressed air energy storage, underwater habitats, underwater emergency escape systems (submarine), portable storage tanks for oil transport, remote fuel depot stations, remote water storage tanks for forest fire control, cargo lift balloons, large, deep space antenna reflector for ground stations, antenna radome, emergency shelters, and troop shelters with integrated ballistic protection.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING

  • Deployment
  • Isolation/Protection/Radiation Shielding (see also Mechanical Systems)
  • Isolation/Protection/Shielding (Acoustic, Ballistic, Dust, Radiation, Thermal)
  • Physiological/Psychological Countermeasures
  • Pressure & Vacuum Systems
  • Structures
  • Vehicles (see also Autonomous Systems)

PROPOSAL SUMMARY
Award: SBIR Phase I
Maximum Potential Value: $125,000

PROPOSAL TITLE: Highly Efficient Solid Oxide Electrolyzer & Sabatier System

SUBTOPIC TITLE: In-Situ Resource Utilization

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN
Paragon Space Development Corporation
Tucson, AZ

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER
Christine Iacomini, PhD

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 2
End: 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT

Paragon Space Development Corporation® (Paragon) and ENrG Incorporated (ENrG) are teaming to provide a highly efficient reactor for carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide (CO/CO2) conversion into methane (CH4). The system is a gravity-independent, compact, leak-tight, Solid Oxide Electrolyzer (SOE) system with embedded Sabatier reactors (ESR). Utilizing Corning Incorporated (Corning) Intellectual Property (IP), ENrG and Paragon can leverage an all-ceramic, efficient, and low mass solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that remains leak-tight after hundreds of thermal cycles. Paragon proposes that incorporation of the all-ceramic technology into our SOE/ESR system will result in a robust design solution that will: 1) be thermally shock tolerant and capable of hundreds of on-off cycles at faster cycles than compared to the metal-to-ceramic SOE designs, 2) be lighter, smaller, and require less power than existing designs, 3) allow for high (>90%) single pass utilization of feedstock, and 4) achieve a thermodynamic efficiency of up to 80%.

Our Phase I effort includes laboratory tests to determine the feasibility of employing the all-ceramic SOFC design as both an electrolyzer cell and an ESR to improve single pass utilization of the feed stock and deter carbon deposition. Integrating cells that operate as either an electrolyzer or a Sabatier reactor simplifies operations, lowers hardware complexity, and increases reliability. The proposed system can perform multiple functions without modifications, making it a readily deployable technology for various missions from ISRU on the Moon and Mars to regenerating 100% of a crew’s oxygen while in transit.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

SOE/ESRs can be used to produce oxygen from in situ planetary resources and to regenerate 100% of the oxygen needs of a crew from crew-produced CO2 and H2O vapor. The SOE/ESR can be designed to satisfy various missions, regardless of destination or the technology chosen for using the extraterrestrial resources (e.g., hydrogen vs carbothermal lunar regolith reduction). Furthermore, SOE/ESR development would allow inclusion in several of the commercial and civil vehicles under development. A point underscored by Paragon’s existing relationships with many of the key players.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

SOE/ESR oxygen regeneration systems can be utilized in underwater research facilities, submarines, high altitude aircraft, or emergency bunkers. Hazardous material handlers, rescue personnel, or other professionals performing in extreme environments would benefit greatly from a self-contained oxygen supply system that requires no external supply of consumables. Also, SOE operated as fuel cell-spinoffs include power systems for regions or as relief systems during high energy-use periods of the day.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING

  • Ceramics
  • Essential Life Resources (Oxygen, Water, Nutrients)
  • Fuels/Propellants
  • In Situ Manufacturing
  • Remediation/Purification
  • Waste Storage/Treatment