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NASA Turns To Small Businesses For Future Mission Technologies

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 5/8/2014

Space agency selects 383 small business research and technology proposals, enters negotiations for contracts that could total as much as $47.6 million.

More and more investors are paying attention to the role small businesses play in technology innovation. In fact, NASA is banking on small businesses to provide the technology that will enable future missions and space exploration.

NASA Small Business Grants for Research

Recently, the space agency announced that it has entered the negotiation stage on 383 research and technology funding proposals. The proposals represent 257 U.S. small businesses and 29 research institutions, and were submitted through NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

The SBIR and STTR programs are designed to uncover and fund innovative technologies that have a variety of applications. In many cases, SBIR and STTR technologies are used to improve air travel, study the environment or evaluate climate change. But for NASA, the primary value of the innovations that emerge from these programs is space-related.

"These selections are part of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate investment in new technologies that address several high priority challenges for achieving safe and affordable deep-space exploration," said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for Space Technology at NASA. "Aligned with NASA's Space Technology Roadmaps, the agency's Space Technology Investment Plan and the National Research Council's recommendations, these focused areas will assure we remain on the cutting edge of advanced space technology. SBIR and STTR technologies provide an early stage foundation across all our thrust areas."

Both the STTR and SBIR funding programs involve three phases. While Phase I and Phase II focus on the feasibility of proposals, Phase III is geared toward the commercialization of proposed innovations, generating long-term economic value from technologies that may have initially been designed for use in space.

"SBIR and STTR projects are at the foundation of America's future in space and aeronautics," said Gazarik. "Innovative ideas explored by our partners in industry and the broader U.S. research community help NASA execute our missions and bring new American products and services to the global technology marketplace. These job-creating NASA investments fuel the innovation engine these small businesses provide to our economy.

For more information about the SBIR and STTR programs, visit the NASA website.

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