Two proposals being administered by the Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi are among the 108 research and technology proposals from U.S. small businesses that NASA has selected to enable NASA’s future missions while benefiting America’s technology-driven economy on Earth.
The selected proposals now will enter into negotiations for contract awards as part of Phase II of the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. The selected aerospace technology and innovation projects have a combined value of about $87 million, supporting 99 U.S. firms in 26 states.
The two Stennis proposals involve technology being administered by the Office of the Chief Technologist. The SBIR Phase II projects affiliated with Stennis are:
— “Polymer Derived Rare Earth Silicate Nanocomposite Protective Coatings for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Systems,” developed by Nanosonic Inc. of Pembroke, Va.
— “Building a Rice Decision Support System to Support Global Food Security and Commodity Markets,” developed by Applied Geosolutions LLC of Newmarket, N.H.
“NASA’s future successes depend on the innovative capacity of American small businesses, and their ability to bring new technology to bear on the problems NASA tackles,” said Michael Gazarik, associate administrator for space technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We see the benefits of small businesses and their SBIR-funded technology working for us every day, whether here on Earth in our air traffic control systems, or on the surface of Mars and the technology behind NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover. Small businesses are bringing innovation to the marketplace while creating new products, new jobs, and strengthening our economy.”
Under the general element, NASA chose 98 proposals worth approximately $73.5 million. Under the select element, NASA chose 10 proposals worth approximately $13.5 million.
NASA’s SBIR Program is a competitive awards-based program that encourages U.S. small businesses to engage in federal research, development and commercialization. The program also enables businesses to explore technological potential, while providing the incentive to profit from new commercial products and services. Small businesses create about two out of every three jobs in the U.S. each year, and roughly half of working Americans either own or work for a small business.
Innovative research areas among these selected proposals address the challenges NASA is facing as the agency continues to pursue exciting missions of exploration and discovery.
Selected proposals from these small businesses will develop efficient energy and power systems for human and robotic spacecraft; new concepts for in-space propulsion; advanced telescope technologies to enable a new class of critical observatories; next generation sensors for the study of Earth; and robotic technologies for the exploration of other planets.
Small businesses working under NASA’s SBIR program are also developing new technology to monitor astronaut health, and creating new materials and the manufacturing processes that support them. Additional work includes building new simulation environments to reduce the cost and complexity of future space missions.
This year’s NASA SBIR Phase II selections support two program elements: a general element sought proposals in response to a broad range of research and technology topics, while a second select element focused on a small group of topics of particular interest to NASA.
NASA SBIR Phase II projects in both program elements will expand on the results of recently completed Phase I projects. Phase I projects were six-month contracts ranging from $125,000 to $225,000. Phase II projects last no more than two years. Funding for contracts chosen under the general element may be up to $750,000 per award. Awards under the select element may be up to $1.5 million per award. Phase III, or the commercialization of an innovation, may occur after successful completion of Phase II.
Selection criteria for selection of these awards included technical merit and feasibility, along with experience, qualifications and facilities. Additional criteria included effectiveness of the work plan and commercial potential and feasibility.
NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the SBIR program for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. NASA’s 10 centers manage individual projects. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions.