JSC Takes Step to “Accelerate” Commercial Space

Good news, everyone!

There’s some encouraging signs of brain activity down there on Planet Houston. On the same day that the last space shuttle landed safely in Florida, NASA Johnson issued an RFI on the establishment of a “JSC Acceleration Center” dedicated to fostering commercial space activities.

A small step, for sure, toward an embrace of a commercial space future from a center almost exclusively focused on preserving its multi-billion dollar government projects. Whether it will it will turn into a giant leap…that remains to be seen.

So what is NASA doing? Well, JSC is seeking commercial and non-federal tenants to occupy the Mission Simulation Development Facility. Constructed in 1968, the flight training facility was used for the now-retired space shuttle program and includes office space, conference rooms and a high bay. However, the high bay is not included in this RFI.

According to the notice, the JSC Acceleration Center will be

focused on advancing the development of commercial space and related technologies for the dual purpose of Space and Earth application in an effort to grow new capabilities and retain existing NASA JSC capabilities supportive of NASA’s missions and purpose.  The JSC Acceleration Center will be created as a stimulus to seed a vibrant commercial space community in the JSC and Houston vicinity.

The RFI’s purpose is to

Identify and document services to be provided to various entities (e.g., small businesses, entrepreneurs) focused on lower Earth orbit that are contributing to the growth of the commercial space industry.  For the purpose of this announcement, services is defined as providing education, insight, access to capital, business development, and related efforts that enable and accelerate the growth of emerging technology companies.

Identify and document alignment with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) efforts related to the commercial space and aerospace industry.

The deadline for responses is close of business on August 22, 2011.

Interested? Download the procurement notice.