NASA names businesses and research teams selected for tech development program

June 12, 2023
NASA selected 300 proposals from 249 small businesses and 39 research institutions.

WASHINGTON - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have announced awardees to more than 200 small business teams to develop new technologies designed to protect the health of astronauts, lower risk of collision damage to spacecraft, and more. The new awards from NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program invests in a diverse portfolio of American small businesses and research institutions to support NASA’s future missions.

NASA selected 300 proposals from 249 small businesses and 39 research institutions  for first-round funding. Each proposal team will receive $150,000 to establish the merit and feasibility of their innovations, for a total agency investment of $45 million. Phase I SBIR contracts are awarded to small businesses and last for six months, while Phase I STTR contracts are awarded to small businesses in partnership with a research institution and last for 13 months. The full lists of this year’s SBIR awardees and STTR awardees are available online.

About 30% of the companies selected are first-time NASA SBIR/STTR recipients, including nou Systems, Inc., a women-owned small business based in Huntsville, Alabama. The first-time NASA SBIR recipient was selected to further develop their technology that will help in microbial monitoring of spacecraft environments. The closed and unique environment on spacecraft make microbial monitoring of utmost importance to astronauts’ health. Specifically, nou Systems has proposed a novel approach to automate the DNA monitoring of microbes, helping quickly identify those which might pose a threat to astronauts. This technology could first find use as part of the International Space Station’s biological testing equipment.

NASA says that more than a quarter of the selected companies are women-owned, veteran-owned, disadvantaged, and/or HUBzone small businesses. For example, veteran-owned HyBird Space Systems LLC, a two-person company based in Spanaway, Washington, was selected for an SBIR award to help NASA in its efforts to mitigate the potential risk of damage to its spaceflight programs from orbital debris – humanmade objects in Earth orbit that no longer serve a useful purpose. Their proposed retrobraking propulsion system, named RT-5X, will focus initially on deorbit of spacecraft in low Earth orbit. The company hopes their technology becomes a low-cost, preventative debris solution that also provides controlled re-entry, and may be beneficial for other small satellite developers.

NASA selected Phase I proposals to receive funding by judging their technical merit and commercial potential. Based on their progress during Phase I, companies may submit proposals for $850,000 in Phase II funding to develop a prototype, as well as subsequent SBIR/STTR Post Phase II opportunities. The NASA SBIR/STTR program is part of STMD and is managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley.

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