Austin’s Stellarray Tackles Radiography in Space for NASA Project

Austin—Imaging startup Stellarray is looking to the next frontier for its imaging technology.

The Austin, TX company has begun a project with NASA to develop a next-generation imaging system that can produce both traditional two-dimensional X-rays as well as 3-D, computer-generated images such as digital tomosynthesis. The effort is part of a $125,000 phase 1 SBIR grant awarded to Stellarray with the aim of developing a light, portable imaging device can than be used on long-term space missions.

“NASA’s now beginning to plan for the next generation of space missions,” says Mark Eaton, Stellarray’s founder and CEO. “They’re looking at taking a cruiser up there for three years, not just three months.”

The company is looking at developing what Eaton calls a “four-in-one” device that can be used for a variety of imaging needs, from mammograms to scans of organs or the musculoskeletal system. “It makes very good use of space and weight,” he says.

Stellarray, which was founded a decade ago, is developing what it says are portable and more affordable radiography systems. Current imaging machines like CT scans are bulky and expensive. Eaton says the company wants to use technology to make radiography easier to obtain and less expensive. He describes the technology as flat screen panels combined with laser-like X-rays.

Among the products Stellarray is developing is a self-contained blood irradiator, which is about one-third the size and weight of currently used irradiators, which are used to make donor blood safe before transfusions. The company expects to have beta units ready for three pilot sites, including for St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. It is seeking a 501(k) medical device clearance from the FDA.

In total, Stellarray has raised more than $8 million for the irradiation project and others from a variety of sources, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the (now defunct) Texas Emerging Technology Fund.

Ultimately, Eaton says he hopes technology developed for NASA can be used for more terrestrial healthcare. “A system small and rugged enough to be carried into space can be used back here on Earth for military and emergency medicine,” he says.

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