SANTA FE, N.M. (March 8, 2005) – The NASA-funded Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) has assisted a Taos, N.M. entrepreneur in his mission to co-locate solar arrays, wind generation farms and advanced agricultural technology for decentralized food production on municipal, county, state or private lands.
SATOP provides free engineering assistance to small businesses with technical challenges through donations of time and expertise from 50 Space Alliance Partners throughout the country.
David Schweitzer approached SATOP New Mexico, a program of the Santa Fe-based Regional Development Corp., for assistance with his new product. The Super Flux Light Canoe is a lighting system that will provide stimulus for plant growth in a greenhouse-type arrangement. “I knew that there were orbital experiments made that could benefit the project,” said Schweitzer, who heard of SATOP through Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and the New Mexico Economic Development Department.
Preliminary studies had been conducted on different lights with the use of freelance CAD/CAM/3D animators, but Schweitzer needed research on what lights would best suit the application. SATOP matched his Request for Technical Assistance with The Boeing Company’s Ron Fussell, a test conductor at the Kennedy Space Center.
Drawing from years of work and knowledge of space shuttle payloads, Fussell knew that during a previous space shuttle mission, a mid-deck experiment called CERES had used Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, for growing plants for food while in orbit.
“Essentially, I facilitated the project by turning David onto some information and products that were public domain through NASA,” said Fussell. From the CERES findings, Fussell was able to derive the information Schweitzer was searching for.
Fussell provided Schweitzer data on light frequency, the colors best applicable for supporting photosynthesis, the electronic arrangement and configuration of the device they would need, as well as recommendations as to which LEDs emit a more crisp, coherent light.
“The Boeing Company really came through for David. Many people are unaware of information that is public domain, and Ron was able to quickly access and break down the relevant information from the CERES experiment for David,” said DeAnza Valencia, SATOP New Mexico director.
“The data and diagrams provided by The Boeing Company were just what I needed. Had I attempted to solve this internally, it would have been at a far greater cost and longer time schedule,” said Schweitzer. “SATOP bridges worldly needs with the high-tech world of aerospace.”