NASA awards $106m to small businesses for tech development

Firms working on autonomous technologies are among the US businesses granted funding as NASA plans to return to the moon


NASA has selected 142 proposals from 129 small businesses in the US to receive Phase II contracts as part its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

The small business awards total $106m and have been granted to companies from 28 states and the District of Columbia. Phase II contracts, which last for 24 months, have a maximum funding value of $750,000. The funding will aim to support the development of technologies in the areas of human exploration and operations, space technology, science and aeronautics.

Among the technologies set to be boosted by the funding are sensors designed to support autonomous entry on planetary surfaces, solar panels that deploy like venetian blinds, X-ray instrumentation used to analyze surface rocks and core samples on planets and asteroids, and a suite of technologies for managing autonomous aircraft.

Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), commented: "Small businesses play an important role in our science and exploration endeavors. NASA's diverse community of partners, including small businesses across the country, helps us achieve our mission and cultivate the US economy.

"Their innovations will help the US land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024, establish a sustainable presence on the lunar surface a few years later, and pursue exciting opportunities for going to Mars and beyond."

The SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are managed on behalf of STMD out of NASA's Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

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