HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A growing Huntsville company continues to develop exciting innovation with NASA and other federal agencies.
CFD Research has landed a big contract for vertical lift technology at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. The five-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract has a ceiling value of $24 million.
The high tech research and development company was founded in Huntsville in 1987.
It's a major milestone for CFD Research on two key fronts: it's their first major service prime contract for NASA and their first major service prime contract outside of Huntsville.
CFD Research and its team of subcontractors will provide aeronautical engineering, research, and development for vertical lift technology development, including aeromechanics modeling and analysis, simulation facility hardware and software development, aircraft performance and flight control systems analysis and evaluation, and mission effectiveness analysis and management. Air traffic management development is also included to assess and integrate new operating procedures for efficiency and safety.
Sameer Singhal, President & CEO, talked about the work his company is doing with vertical lift, the next generation of helicopters.
"NASA is working on the civilian side and trying to bring vertical lift technology to civilian applications. Ironically, one of the biggest applications is for the media, news reporters and traffic conditions for traffic reporting. There's also other applications for law enforcement for search and rescue. It is manned and unmanned," he explained.
"It's one of the next technologies out there that's really going to benefit man. We're looking at low speed maneuverability and agility of these vehicles and bringing the technology into everyday life," Singhal added.
In 1987, the Challenger solid rocket booster redesign was their first project. More recently, they worked with NASA Marshall on developing the SLS system.
“We take new software tools and packages that we develop here in our facility and we install them with NASA Marshall and we embed our engineers there and they help develop things like launchpad acoustics and sloshing of the fuel in the propulsion tanks. Now we want to do the same thing out in California with NASA Ames on this next generation of vertical lift,” Singhal said.
The company has done work on degraded visual environments and human factors, including designing helicopter cockpits to mitigate back pain for pilots. They've worked on batteries used in helicopters for backup systems and powering instrumentation on the rotorcraft.
"We simulate when someone sits in a helicopter, how their muscles activate and how that would lead to muscle fatigue and pain so we can predict if we change their seating a little bit or put an insert in there, how we can alleviate their pain and prevent injury. That's going to be part of the new project as well. These people often sit for 4-8 hours in a helicopter," said Paulien Roos, Senior Research Scientist.
It's an exciting time for the company. They hired 40 people last year and plan to hire another 25-30 this year. They've been awarded a number of contracts with the Army, as well as the new one with NASA, so to account for that growth, they purchased a new building they're moving into in May. It's a three story, 45,000 square foot facility in Cummings Research Park.
With the NASA vertical lift technology contract, CFD Research has some great partners working with them to support their team, including Torch Technologies in Huntsville and the Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center at UAH. They've also partnered with the Georgia Tech Research Institute, XPS Services in TN and Advanced Rotorcraft Systems in California.
“We always say one of our missions is making an impact on society so we’re working on really tough problems, cutting edge technology and then we’re turning them into solutions that can be implemented in everyday life,” Singhal said.