Report: NASA Needs to Improve Oversight of Contracts and Grants

NASA finished assembling the main structural components for the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket core stage on Sept. 19. Engineers at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans fully integrated the last piece of the 212-foot-tall core stage by adding the engine section to the rest of the previously assembled structure. Boeing technicians bolted the engine section to the stage’s liquid hydrogen propellant tank. (Credit: NASA/Steven Seipel)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Between 2014 and 2017, NASA awarded Boeing a total of $64 million in performance awards for its work on the Space Launch System (SLS) despite significant schedule delays and cost overruns in the program.

It was only after the NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) questioned the propriety of the awards that SLS program officials began “providing Boeing award fees that better reflected actual performance,” the space agency’s watchdog said in a new report.

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USAF Seeks SBIR Proposals for Cislunar Space Operations

In what might be a reaction to China’s ambitious space program, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) will award funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to proposals for commercial technology that will allow it to operate in cislunar space.

“As the space beyond geosynchronous orbit becomes more crowded and competitive, it is important for the Air Force to extend its space domain awareness responsibilities to include this new regime.. To support this new body of work, the Air Force is seeking commercial innovation in support of space domain awareness for future cislunar operations,” the service said in a pre-solicitation notice.

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NASA Small Business, Tipping Point Contracts Advance Small Moon Rover

CubeRover on the lunar surface. (Credit: CubeRover)

By Jim Cawey
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

A partnership involving NASA and a Pittsburgh-based space robotics company and university will let us explore the lunar surface in new ways. The project to develop a shoebox-sized rover is part of a multifaceted approach to mature commercial space capabilities that benefit future NASA missions under the Artemis program. 

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NASA’s Small Investments in Small Businesses Pay Big Dividends

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Sustainable Bioproducts, a previous recipient and NASA STTR funding, uses extremophile organisms from volcanic springs to create edible proteins. (Credits: Jim Peaco/National Park Service)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — In 2013, a startup company had an idea for using extremophile organisms from volcanic springs to create edible proteins that would serve as an environmentally conscious alternative to meat-based proteins.

Following a handful of small investments from government agencies, including a $124,000 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract from NASA, Sustainable Bioproducts announced in early 2019 it received $33 million in venture capital financing, including backing from two of the world’s biggest food and agriculture companies.

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Kleos Space Establishes US Subsidiary

  • Wholly owned subsidiary incorporated to target largest Defence and Security market
    • US$692 billion (~628 EUR billion) US national security budget (Bryce 2019)
    • Former intelligence community and US Department of Defence senior executive, Head of Kleos US Strategy, Karyn Hayes-Ryan, appointed Director
  • US Government Departments to access datasets from Kleos’ commercial satellites, enhancing US surveillance capability
  • Effective local support for existing Kleos projects
  • Kleos operations now cover US, UK, Luxembourg and Australia

LUXEMBOURG, 15 October 2019 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, headquartered in Luxembourg, has incorporated a wholly-owned US subsidiary to integrate and sell its maritime ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) data into US defence and security government departments, agencies and industry.

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NASA Announces New Tipping Point Partnerships for Moon and Mars Technologies

Astrobotic is one of 14 companies selected for NASA’s Tipping Point solicitation. This illustration depicts CubeRover, an ultra-light, modular and scalable commercial rover.(Credit: Astrobotic/Carnegie Mellon University)

Astrobotic, Blue Origin, ExoTerra, Paragon and SpaceX among contract awardees for advanced technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 14 American companies as partners whose technologies will help enable the agency’s Moon to Mars exploration approach.

The selections are based on NASA’s fourth competitive Tipping Point solicitation and have a combined total award value of about $43.2 million. This investment in the U.S. space industry, including small businesses across the country, will help bring the technologies to market and ready them for use by NASA.

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Kleos Space Wins USAF SBIR Award

Kleos Scouting mission. (Credit: Kleos Space)
  • Kleos Space technology passes first US Air Force hurdle- Small Business Innovation Research contract award
  • Kleos was granted Phase 1 Award to prepare feasibility study
  • Opportunity to progress into SBIR Phase II Award of ~EUR 1.36M

LUXEMBOURG, 30 August 2019 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a United States Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 contract with a focus on “Innovative Defense-Related Dual-Purpose Technologies/Solutions with a Clear Air Force Stakeholder Need”.

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SMC Awards SBIR Phase 2 Contract for Space Situational Awareness

LOS ANGELES (USAF SMC PR) — The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Directorate of Special Programs (DirSP) awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 contract to Bluestaq LLC who will develop the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Marketplace program under the auspices of AFWERX.

AFWERX was created in 2017 by then Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to support rapid innovation within the Defense Department. SBIR is a prime example of the AFWERX goal of fostering a culture of innovation.

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Aevum Wins USAF Contract to Explore Autonomous Launch Capabilities for Responsive Launch and Space Logistics

Ravn air-launch system (Credit: Aevum)

Huntsville, Alabama – The U.S. Air Force (USAF) has awarded Aevum a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract for its fully autonomous launch and space logistics service. Aevum’s unique platform can launch small satellites with response times as low as 180-minutes, measured from mission conceptualization to orbital insertion to data downlink, to any low Earth orbit.

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NASA Selects 11 Proposals for Funding Under the Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — On November 5, 2018, NASA provided notice of an opportunity to participate in the Civilian Commercialization Readiness Pilot Program (CCRPP), which is intended to accelerate the transition of Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funded technologies to commercialization.

The funding is a combination of additional SBIR/STTR investment and NASA or non-NASA entity investment. The SBIR/STTR Program will match between $500,000 and $1 million of the external investment.

Eleven applications have been selected for negotiation and award for a total of $8.8M in funding. A list of selected projects and firms can be found below:

Firm Name

Title

Adventium Enterprises, LLC

Continuous Architecture Framework for Fault Management Assessment and Design (CAFFMAD)

ColdQuanta, Inc.

Cold Atom Source System

Deployable Space Systems, Inc.

Affordable Maximum Performance Solar Array for NASA and Commercial Missions

EM Photonics, Inc.

Enhanced Detection, Tracking, and Integration for the ATCOM Video Processing Platform

Environmental and Life Support Technology

Clean Catalysts- Porous Solid Carbon Manufacturing System

IntelliEPI IR, Inc.

Advanced Type II SLS Materials for Large Format FPA Applications

M4 Engineering, Inc.

Physics-Based Conceptual Design Tools

Metamagnetics, Inc.

Small, Low Mass, Self-Biased Circulators for Aerospace Phased Array Radar Systems

MicroLink Devices, Inc.

High-Volume Production of Lightweight, Multi-Junction Solar Cells Using 6-inch GaAs

Skyre, Inc.

6 CFM Electrochemical Hydrogen Pump and Compressor

Techshot, Inc.

Cell Reprogramming Facility

 











Tethers Unlimited Aims to Put SPIDERs on Mars

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the 1970’s, David Bowie sang about Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars. If Tethers Unlimited has its way, the Red Planet will be crawling with them.

Earlier this month, NASA selected the Bothell, Washington-based company for a small business award to work on its Sensing and Positioning in Deep Environments with Retrieval (SPIDER) surface exploration system.

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Masten Space Systems Gets NASA Funding for Lunar Research

Astronauts on a future lunar walk. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Mojave’s Masten Space Systems for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards for work focused on helping the space agency return astronauts to the moon. The awards are worth up to $125,000 apiece.

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Final Frontier Design Receives NASA Funding to Develop Lunar Boot

NASA has selected Final Frontier Design of Brooklyn, NY, for funding to develop an advanced boot for astronauts to walk on the moon.

The award under the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I program is worth $125,000 over six months.

The Surface Space Suit Boot (SSSB) “leverages decades of Lunar boot development and includes an advanced ankle mobility joint, a unique closure system, next generation outer garment materials, and an advanced polymer that will withstand the harsh environment of the moon,” the company said in its proposal summary.

The proposal summary follows.

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NASA Selects Astrobotic for Two SBIR Awards

Polaris rover (Credit: Astrobotic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Astrobotic Technologies will develop a compact ground penetrating radar antenna to peer below the surfaces of other worlds and a low-power navigation system for use on CubeSats with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the Pittsburgh-based company for two awards under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Each award is worth up to $125,000 over six months.

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NASA Funds Made in Space’s Mobile Welding Project

Made in Space (MIS) will pursue the development of a space laser welding system with the help of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

“MIS proposes to develop a Mobile End-effector Laser Device (MELD) capable of on-site, on-demand joining and repair of space structures. MELD is a self-sufficient end-effector that interfaces with a robotic arm and uses the arm for mobility,” the company said in its proposal summary.

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