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Psionic Receives NASA Phase III SBIR Award to Integrate a Photonic Integrated Circuit into PSNDL

January 28, 2022

Improves landing and docking safety and precision with significantly reduced SWaP

HAMPTON, VA, January 28, 2022—Psionic today announced that the company received a Phase III SBIR Award from NASA to integrate a Photonic Integrated Circuit (PIC), developed in Phase II, into Psionic’s most advanced NDL architecture to date. When completed, the new Psionic Space Navigation Doppler Lidar (PSNDL) will be reduced in mass by 60% and in size by 40%, and will require 50% less power, all while delivering the performance necessary for safe, precise landing and docking.

This latest award is a follow on to the SBIR Phase II contract NASA awarded to Psionic in May 2021 to create a chip-scale waveform modulation system for the PSNDL. The Phase III award covers the development of a prototype, engineering development unit, and flight unit.

“Our ultimate goal is to support the accelerated pace of space exploration,” according to Steve Sandford, founder and CTO of Psionic. “The number of landings on planetary bodies is increasing, as is the accuracy required. The PIC we’re developing combined with our extensive work on Navigation Doppler Lidar will enable us to create a much smaller, lighter, and less power-hungry device to increase landing safety and precision and to make it available for all missions with landing, docking, or RPO in space.”

Founded in 2016, Psionic secured exclusive licensing to NASA’s NDL core technology and patents and the company has made improvements in every aspect of the original NDL design. The reductions in size, weight, and power that will result from the PIC will make it possible for a much wider variety of organizations and missions to take advantage of the company’s highly-precise PSNDL.

In addition to the reductions in SWaP, the PSNDL adds up to 8 channels to enhance precision, redundancy, and functionality, and supports a modular, software-defined capability.

About NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate

The award was made by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), which is advancing technologies and testing new capabilities on the Moon that will also be critical for crewed missions to Mars. The Directorate’s Safe and Precise Landing—Integrated Capabilities Evolution (SPLICE) team will manage and utilize this Phase III development with Psionic to further the SPLICE focus on precision landing and hazard avoidance (PL&HA) technologies for NASA and for commercial spaceflight missions.

About Psionic

Psionic Navigation Doppler Lidar (PNDL) provides advanced precision navigation for Space exploration and Defense applications in the most challenging environments. The company, based in Hampton, Virginia, was founded in 2016 by the engineers and scientists who worked on Doppler lidar at NASA for more than a decade.


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