NASA, SBA use Google+ to praise small business

While NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover explores an alien world, two senior Obama administration officials and others celebrated small businesses’ contributions to the mission back home on Earth.

On Sept. 19, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills joined with other field experts and contractors in a Google+ Hangout -- an interactive event held via Google's social media platform -- to talk about how small contractors have helped the Curiosity mission.

The Mars rover Curiosity has set off from its landing vicinity on a trek to a science destination about a quarter-mile away, where it may begin using its drill, the agency announced in August. Bolden described its mission as akin to hiking down into the Grand Canyon and back up the other side.

On camera, Bolden sat beside Mary Baker, president of ATA Engineering, the company that played a large role in developing Curiosity to successfully survive the landing’s impact and to work in the low gravity and cold, thin air of Mars. On another camera in San Diego, Calif., many of ATA’s 50 engineers who worked with NASA sat listening to Bolden and Mills speak. Then two of the engineers went into detail about their work on the Curiosity’s arms and mobility system.

Small business contractors working with NASA officials “have been essential to Curiosity’s early and ongoing success,” Bolden said.

NASA awarded $2.5 billion in prime contracts to small companies in fiscal 2011, according SBA’s annual small business score card. The previous year, NASA officials awarded $2.41 billion in prime contracts to small firms. The amount equaled nearly 18 percent of the agency’s contract spending, up from 15.64 percent in fiscal 2010. Overall, NASA earned a B grade from SBA.

Mills said NASA understands the importance small firms can play in government operations and far-out missions.

“This is a terrific example of how America’s small businesses get the job done,” she said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


  • Congress
    U.S. Capitol (Photo by M DOGAN / Shutterstock)

    Funding bill clears Congress, heads for president's desk

    The $1.3 trillion spending package passed the House of Representatives on March 22 and the Senate in the early hours of March 23. President Trump is expected to sign the bill, securing government funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.

  • 2018 Fed 100

    The 2018 Federal 100

    This year's Fed 100 winners show just how much committed and talented individuals can accomplish in federal IT. Read their profiles to learn more!

  • Census
    How tech can save money for 2020 census

    Trump campaign taps census question as a fund-raising tool

    A fundraising email for the Trump-Pence reelection campaign is trying to get supporters behind a controversial change to the census -- asking respondents whether or not they are U.S. citizens.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.