NASA’s Technology Transfer Program is soliciting inquires from companies interested in licensing its cloud-based Sky Router technology, according to a Nov. 30 Special Notice on Beta.Sam.gov.
NASA currently has LEO (low earth orbit) satellites that constantly move in orbit, limiting measurements over the same spot on the Earth to about three times a week. NASA’s proposed Sky Router concept would create Virtual LEO stationary satellites (VLSS) over any area of Earth for either a continuous or set amount of time using a network of regularly spaced, coordinated small satellites. NASA explains that a VLSS is made possible by combining the images from multiple satellites flying over the same spot, allowing continuous monitoring of an area of interest for an indefinite amount of time.
To obtain that VLSS data, without exceeding data bandwidth in the system, NASA said “a user would define an area of interest on the Data Cloud Interface, which would allow instruments to stay on, but not transmit data.” The Special Notice goes on to say that once an area is selected “the user can generate VLSS, triggering the command to transmit data, only while a given instrument can report on the defined area. Frame rates could also be selected to further limit the data rate.”
NASA also noted that the novel Data Cloud Interface to select a user area of interest for satellite commanding has to be developed, however, it should be an engineering development that requires no new theory.
NASA highlighted the challenges that licensing organizations will likely face, explaining that the challenge will “likely be in writing and validating possibly complex system communication and management software to make the concept real, productive and reliable.”
Interested parties have to submit a license application to NASA. License rights may be issued on an exclusive or nonexclusive basis and may include specific fields of use. The Special Notice states that NASA will provide no funding in conjunction with these potential licenses.