NASA Small Business Partners Advance Lunar Technologies

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. NASA’s Artemis mission will establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — Small businesses around the country have played a critical part in NASA technologies that enable our missions. As NASA returns to the Moon via the Artemis program, in an enhanced, sustainable way; the agency has selected five U.S. small businesses to receive a total of nearly $20 million to accelerate the development of novel lunar capabilities. 

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SpaceWERX Launch Drives AFWERX Small Business Focus on Universities and On-orbit Capability

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (USAF PR) – On August 19, SpaceWERX will officially launch. The kickoff will include a virtual Space Force Pitch Day highlighting the key partnership between the Department of the Air Force and small businesses by awarding up to $34 million to innovative startups competing for Small Business Innovation Research Phase II contracts. At the launch, SpaceWERX will also announce key initiatives to jumpstart the fall campaign.To join the SpaceWERX ecosystem click here

As a part of AFWERX, SpaceWERX will play a vital role in pursuing innovative technologies for the United States Space Force. The Department’s newest innovation arm will create platforms for space operators, lab engineers, and acquisition professionals to collaborate with the brightest minds in academia and industry pursuing novel solutions. Moreover, SpaceWERX will continue to leverage proven AFWERX tools such as the SBIR Open Topic, Challenge platform, STRATFI initiative, and Prime program. 

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NASA Space Technology Budget Request Fact Sheet

NASA’s Psyche mission to a distant metal asteroid will carry a revolutionary Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package. This artist’s concept shows Psyche spacecraft with a five-panel array. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin)

NASA FACT SHEET
FY 2022 Budget Request
Space Technology
($ Millions)

The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) develops transformative, cross-cutting technologies that lead to research and technology breakthroughs to enable NASA’s missions and is broadening its focus on cross-cutting space technologies that will support creating good jobs in a growing space industry.

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NASA Invests $105 Million in US Small Business Technology Development

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has a long history of supporting America’s entrepreneurs as they develop technologies from ideas to commercial readiness. The agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is furthering that legacy with 140 new Phase II awards to 127 U.S. small businesses that will help them move their innovations to market.

The awards to these small businesses, located across 34 states and Washington, D.C., total $105 million. NASA’s small business program is dedicated to finding the most useful technologies for the agency and the commercial marketplace, and sourcing those innovations from a diverse  group of entrepreneurs with different backgrounds and perspectives. The companies chosen for Phase II funding include 33 women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned small businesses.

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NASA Invests More than $45 Million in Small Business Projects

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Small businesses are vital to NASA’s mission, helping expand humanity’s presence in space and improve life on Earth. NASA has selected 365 U.S. small business proposals for initial funding from the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, a total investment of more than $45 million.

“At NASA, we recognize that small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). “This year, to get funds into the hands of small businesses sooner, we accelerated the release of the 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitation by two months. We hope the expedited funding helps provide a near-term boost for future success.”

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Commercial CubeRover Test Shows How NASA Investments Mature Space Tech

The Astrobotic CubeRover traverses the terrain in the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations Laboratory regolith bin at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 10, 2020. The regolith bin simulates the mechanical properties of the Moon’s surface. NASA and Astrobotic employees put the CubeRover through a series of more than 150 mobility tests over several days to evaluate and improve wheel design. (Credits: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

by Linda Herridge
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Researchers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida recently put a new, small robotic rover through its paces inside a 120-ton bin of regolith rock and dust that simulates the lunar surface.

The four-wheeled CubeRover rolled over dunes of abrasive dust, turned in place, and then trundled up and down steep trench walls within the Granular Mechanics and Regolith Operations (GMRO) laboratory as it performed more than 150 mobility tests. The rover’s creators, from Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh, worked alongside Kennedy’s Swamp Works team, assessing the robot’s maneuverability and how its sensor, motor, and power systems operated in the dusty environment.

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NASA Selects 19 Small Business Tech Transfer Projects for Further Funding

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 19 proposals from 17 U.S. small businesses for a total of more than $14 million in follow-on funding through the agency’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The awards will help advance NASA priorities such as the Artemis program and other initiatives in aeronautics, human exploration and operations, science, and space technology. 

NASA’s STTR program is open to small businesses partnering with U.S. research institutions to develop an innovation or technology. The partnering component distinguishes STTR from its sister program, NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR). 

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NASA Selects Altius Space Machines for Small Business Awards

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Altius Space Machines for two small business awards to develop interfaces that can be used by robots for assembly and maintaining structures in space.

The space agency made the awards under the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programs. Each phase I award is worth $125,000.

Under the STTR award, Altius will work with Virginia Tech to develop an universal interface that can be used for assembly in space.

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NASA Selects 10 Small Business Proposals for Lunar ISRU

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon in the Artemis program, the space agency is increasingly eyeing the use of lunar resources to reduce the expense of launching everything from Earth.

NASA recently selected 10 proposals to develop technologies for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

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NASA Invests $51 Million in Innovative Ideas from US Small Businesses

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 409 technology proposals for the first phase of funding from the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The contracts will provide approximately $51 million to 312 small businesses in 44 states and Washington, D.C.

“NASA depends on America’s small businesses for innovative technology development that helps us achieve our wide variety of missions,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “Whether we’re landing Artemis astronauts on the Moon, sending rovers to Mars, or developing next-generation aircraft our small business partners play an important role.”

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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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NASA Funds Research into Food Production on Deep Space Missions

Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield maintaining Biolab in Europe’s Columbus laboratory on the International Space Station. Biolab is an experiment workstation tailored for research on biological samples such as micro-organisms, cells, tissue cultures, plants and small invertebrates. The unit features a centrifuge that creates simulated gravity to compare how samples react to weightlessness and artificial gravity. (Credit; NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA contemplates deep space missions to the moon and Mars, the space agency faces increasing challenges in keeping its astronauts physically and mentally healthy.

One of the key elements in that challenge is fresh food. Currently, fresh produce is supplied periodically to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on resupply ships. Crew members have also grown small quantities of vegetables on board.

Resupply becomes a more difficult task on deep space missions due to distance. Thus, astronauts will need to grow more of their own food. Last week, NASA announced three Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards to advance that goal.

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Astrobotic, Carnegie Mellon Selected for NASA Award for Cooperative Rovers

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)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for funding to continue development of technologies to enable groups of rovers to cooperatively explore the surface of other worlds.

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NASA Awards $15.75 Million to US Small Businesses for Continued R&D

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Twenty-one American small businesses will assist in research relevant to NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach as well as other needs across the agency. The technology development could also bring about Earth-based applications.

The Phase II awards are part of NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The research and technology proposals, collectively valued at $15.75 million, will be completed through partnerships between the selected small businesses and U.S. research institutions—a requirement of STTR.

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