NASA awards 152 small-biz research contracts

Small-business program aims to develop technology for specific NASA needs

NASA awarded contracts to 126 small businesses worth $91 million for research projects in areas including technology to monitor the heath of space crews, and new transmitters for deep space communications, according to NASA officials.

NASA selected 152 proposals to receive contracts for the second phase of the Small Business Innovation Research program. The program works with NASA's mission directorates to competitively select ventures that address research and technology needs for agency programs and missions.

The effort addresses specific technology gaps in mission programs and strives to complement other agency research investments, according to NASA officials on Oct. 6.

In the past, the program benefited several NASA efforts, including modern air traffic control systems, Earth observing spacecraft, the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station and Mars rovers.

Research areas covered in  the new contracts include novel computational tools and new instruments for small Lunar Rovers or Landers.

The Small Business Innovation Research program is a competitive, three-phase award system. It provides small businesses with opportunities to propose ideas that meet specific research and development needs of the federal government.

Phase 1 is a feasibility study to evaluate the scientific and technical merits of an idea. Awards are for as long as six months in amounts up to $100,000. Phase 2 expands on the results of the developments in Phase 1, providing awards for as long as two years in amounts up to $600,000. Phase 3 is for the commercialization of the results of Phase 2 and requires the use of private sector or non-SBIR federal funding.

Participants submitted 332 Phase 2 proposals, according to NASA. The criteria used to select the winning proposals included technical merit and innovation, Phase 1 results, value to NASA, commercial potential and company capabilities.

NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages the program for the Innovative Partnership Program office. NASA's Innovative Partnerships Program collaborates with industry to develop technologies, infuse them into agency missions and transition them into commercially available products and services.

NASA's 10 field centers manage individual projects.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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