The selected projects have a total value of approximately $63 million. NASA will award the contracts to 79 small high technology firms in 27 states. These competitive awards-based programs encourage U.S. small businesses to engage in federal research, development and commercialization. The programs also enable businesses to explore technological potential, while providing the incentive to profit from new commercial products and services.
“Small businesses are not only crucial to NASA’s trailblazing
achievements in space exploration; they are the backbone of the
American economy,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small firms have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years. And federal procurement for women-, minority- and veteran-owned small businesses are a big part of that equation.”
NASA’s SBIR programs address specific technology gaps in agency missions, while striving to complement other agency research
investments. Program results have benefited many NASA efforts,
including modern air traffic control systems, Earth-observing
spacecraft, the International Space Station and the Mars rovers.
In addition to meeting NASA’s needs, the proposals also provide innovative research in areas that have other commercial applications. Examples include:
- Development of design and fabrication techniques that will be used to create better UV detectors useful to NASA’s missions to monitor ozone, aerosols and air pollution, which also are essential in the semiconductor, food processing and healthcare industries, where bacterial sterilization is important
- A new composite material manufacturing process which could decrease manufacturing costs for NASA’s future heavy lift launch vehicles, as well as military and commercial aircraft, wind blades and towers, civil and automotive infrastructure and marine vessels
- New high-performance lubricants beneficial to robotic spacecraft
operations in extreme temperature ranges that also may benefit automobile performance
- A laser-ranging technology that can be used as the next generation
air data system for aircraft that will measure velocity, wind speed,
air pressure and temperature. This will help predict turbulence, ensuring a safer and more comfortable flight
The SBIR program is a highly competitive, three-phase award system. It provides qualified small businesses, including those owned by women and the disadvantaged, with opportunities to propose unique ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the federal government.
Phase 1 is a feasibility study to evaluate the scientific and
technical merit of an idea. Awards are for as long as six months. The
selected Phase 2 projects will expand on the results of Phase 1
projects selected last year, with up to $750,000 to support research
for up to two years. Phase 3 is for the commercialization of the
results of Phase 2 and requires the use of private sector or non-SBIR
Participants submitted 428 Phase 2 proposals. The criteria used to select the winning proposals included technical merit and innovation, Phase 1 performance and results, value to NASA, commercial potential and company capabilities.
NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the SBIR program for the agency’s Space Technology Program. NASA’s 10 field centers manage individual projects.