Manufacturing & Prototyping

High-Reliability Waveguide Vacuum/Pressure Window

This design is suitable for commercial, military, and space applications requiring a helium-leaktight vacuum pressure window. The NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) uses commercial waveguide windows on the output waveguide of Ka-band (32 GHz) low-noise amplifiers. Mechanical failure of these windows resulted in an unacceptable loss in tracking time.

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Methods of Fabricating Scintillators With Radioisotopes for Beta Battery Applications

Applications for these power sources are implantable medical devices, power supplies for remote monitoring, and “trickle chargers” for consumer applications. Technology has been developed for a class of self-contained, long-duration power sources called beta batteries, which harvest the energy contained in the radioactive emissions from beta decay isotopes. The new battery is a significant improvement over the conventional phosphor/ solar cell concept for converting this energy in three ways. First, the thin phosphor is replaced with a thick scintillator that is transparent to its own emissions. By using a scintillator sufficiently thick to completely stop all the beta particles, efficiency is greatly improved. Second, since the energy of the beta particles is absorbed in the scintillator, the semiconductor photodetector is shielded from radiation damage that presently limits the performance and lifetime of traditional phosphor converters. Finally, instead of a thin film of beta-emitting material, the isotopes are incorporated into the entire volume of the thick scintillator crystal allowing more activity to be included in the converter without self-absorption.

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Magnetic Shield for Adiabatic Demagnetization Refrigerators (ADR)

A new method was developed for creating a less expensive shield for ADRs using 1018 carbon steel. This shield has been designed to have similar performance to the expensive vanadium permen dur shields, but the cost is 30 to 50% less. Also, these shields can be stocked in a variety of sizes, eliminating the need for special forgings, which also greatly reduces cost.

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Microwave Sinterator Freeform Additive Construction System (MS-FACS)

This system can create hard surfaces for walkways, roadways, or landing pads. The harmful properties of lunar dust, such as small size, glass composition, abnormal surface area, and coatings of imbedded nanophase iron, lead to a unique coupling of the dust with microwave radiation. This coupling can be exploited for rapid sintering of lunar soil for use as a construction material that can be formed to take on an infinite number of shapes and sizes.

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Development of a Centrifugal Technique for the Microbial Bioburden Analysis of Freon (CFC-11)

Commercial applications include pharmaceutical development and quality assurance, and chemical manufacturing. NASA Procedural Requirement 8020.12C entitled “Planetary Protection Provisions for Robotic Extraterrestrial Missions” states that the source-specific encapsulated microbial density for encapsulated organisms (div(0)) in nonmetallic materials ranges from 1-30 spores/cm3. The standard laboratory procedure, NASA Standard Procedures for the Microbial Examination of Space Hardware, NHB 5340.1B, does not provide any direction into the methodologies to understand the bioburden within such a fluid as CFC-11 (Freon). This general specification value for the Freon would be applicable to the Freon charged within the Mars Science Laboratory’s (MSL’s) Heat Rejection System. Due to the large volume required to fill this system, MSL could not afford to conservatively allocate 55.8% of the total spore budget of the entire laboratory system (rover, descent stage, cruise stage, and aeroshell) of 5.00 × 105 spores at launch.

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Advanced Materials and Manufacturing for Low- Cost, High-Performance Liquid Rocket Combustion Chambers

A document describes the low-cost manufacturing of C103 niobium alloy combustion chambers, and the use of a high-temperature, oxidation-resistant coating that is superior to the standard silicide coating. The manufacturing process involved low-temperature spray deposition of C103 on removable plastic mandrels produced by rapid prototyping. Thin, vapor-deposited platinumindium coatings were shown to substantially improve oxidation resistance relative to the standard silicide coating.

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Archway for Radiation and Micrometeorite Occurrence Resistance

This technology can be used where there is a need to rapidly deploy large, rugged structures including military, emergency services and disaster relief, and camping. The environmental conditions of the Moon require mitigation if a long-term human presence is to be achieved for extended periods of time. Radiation, micrometeoroid impacts, high-velocity debris, and thermal cycling represent threats to crew, equipment, and facilities. For decades, local regolith has been suggested as a candidate material to use in the construction of protective barriers. A thickness of roughly 3 m is sufficient protection from both direct and secondary radiation from cosmic rays and solar protons; this thickness is sufficient to reduce radiation exposure even during solar flares. NASA has previously identified a need for innovations that will support lunar habitats using lightweight structures because the reduction of structural mass translates directly into additional up and down mass capability that would facilitate additional logistics capacity and increased science return for all mission phases. The development of non-pressurized primary structures that have synergy with the development of pressurized structures is also of interest. The use of indigenous or in situ materials is also a well-known and active area of research that could drastically improve the practicality of human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit.

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