NASA has announced that the agency has selected 139 proposals for Phase II follow-on awards through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to provide approximately $104 million to 124 small businesses located across 31 states, NASA reported on Wednesday.
"Small businesses offer innovative solutions that benefit every area of NASA and often find applications outside of the agency," said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. "This announcement is another step forward in NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach. The agency continues to invest in and support small businesses, as they continue to mature important technologies for future missions that can also benefit us on Earth."
NASA has annually invested in U.S. small businesses with innovative technologies, including companies developing better batteries, virtual assistants and lightweight materials, which will benefit space missions and improve life on Earth.
The agency’s Phase II awards will help advance NASA’s priorities, including the Artemis program, missions in aeronautics, human exploration and operations, science and space technology. The awarded companies are previous NASA SBIR Phase I recipients that have established the feasibility of their proposed technologies.
With the Phase II awards, the companies will develop, demonstrate and deliver their technologies to NASA. Of the awardees, a woman-owned small business in Gaithersburg, Maryland, will develop a more reliable and highly efficient energy storage system.
NASA will use the company’s technology for electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems in airplanes. The technology could also be used in renewable energy systems, such as solar, wind and hybrid-electric vehicles.
A small business in Knoxville, Tennessee, was also awarded under the Phase II program. The company’s offerings will advance a lighter-weight shield material for fission power systems. NASA could integrate the technology to power sustainable operations on the Moon. The material could find other industrial applications on Earth.
The third small business, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will develop technology that could provide astronauts with a virtual assistant aboard spacecraft. The system would be able to interact with the crew and other spacecraft systems to perform tasks, diagnose problems and brainstorm solutions without help from ground teams.
The Phase II proposals have been chosen according to the company’s technical merit and feasibility, Phase I results, as well as the experience, qualifications and facilities of the submitting organization.
NASA's SBIR program has encouraged small businesses to develop innovative ideas that meet the specific research and development needs of the federal government. Of the program phases, Phase I has provided the opportunity to establish the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation. SBIR Phase I contracts last for six months with a maximum funding of $125,000.
Phase II has been focused on the development, demonstration and delivery of the innovation, offering contracts that last for 24 months with a maximum funding of $750,000. Phase III will include the commercialization of innovative technologies, products and services resulting from either a Phase I or Phase II contract.
"We are encouraged by the ingenuity and creativity we've seen from these companies in their Phase I work," said Jenn Gustetic, the NASA SBIR program executive. "The applications of their technologies, both inside and outside of NASA, are promising, and we look forward to seeing what this next round of accelerated seed funding will do."
NASA's legacy of human space exploration, research and technology development has yielded countless innovations that prove the direct and profound impact of taxpayer investment in America's space program on our quality of life on Earth, including improved technologies for water purification, air filtration, kidney dialysis and tele-medicine, as well as research that has led to improved vaccines, drug therapies, and mitigations for bone loss.