Increasing the Technology Readiness Level

Technology Readiness Level (TRL) is a measure used by NASA, some United States government agencies and many of the world’s major companies (and agencies) to assess the maturity of evolving technologies (materials, components, devices, etc.) prior to incorporating that technology into a system or subsystem. Generally speaking, when a new technology is first invented or conceptualized, it is not suitable for immediate application. Instead, new technologies are usually subjected to experimentation, refinement, and increasingly realistic testing. Once the technology is sufficiently proven, it can be incorporated into a system or subsystem.

For NASA, TRL 6 involves system/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (Ground analog, microgravity flight)

TRL 7 is a system prototype in a space environment, and TRL 8 is an actual system completed, and “flight qualified” and evaluated for the space environment.

Usability and feasibility in microgravity

In space the lack of gravity has an often-unexpected influence on devices and their operation. Many devices that were developed for the terrestrial environment will simply not work in zero gravity. By having experienced researchers to assist with the development of your product, we can help insure a smoother testing and development phase.

Usability and feasibility in hypergravity (2 to 6 g’s)

Just as the factors of microgravity significantly change the operation of the device, when the device changes the effective weight during acceleration, unforeseen consequence can occur. An example from my own research demonstrates that the safety devices on IV needles will spontaneously fire during a hypergravity load of as little as 1.5 g, rendering them useless for gaining IV access.

Orbital Medicine, Inc was awarded a NASA Payload Opportunities Grant.

9/21/2011 – Orbital Medicine Founder Dr. Marsh Cuttino will test an experimental design for a chest tube drainage device functional in the microgravity environment.

NASA has selected nine proposals to demonstrate new technologies for the second set of payloads to fly on commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicles and the Zero-G commercial parabolic aircraft. NASA is using commercially available vehicles to carry these technology demonstration payloads to help develop the U.S. commercial reusable suborbital transportation industry.

NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program provides test flights to demonstrate and validate space technologies on airborne platforms flying above 65,000 feet, the area known as “near space.” The program also supports parabolic flights that simulate brief periods of microgravity or weightlessness.

Read more below at the link to the NASA announcement: