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NASA Awards $50M in SBIR, STTR Small Business Contracts

By Rachel Jewett | June 2, 2022

      Scout Autonomous Software. Photo: Scout

      NASA is awarding nearly $50 million total in awards to small businesses and research institutions to support space technology, the agency announced May 26. The funds are part of Phase I of the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. 

      The investments are spread out over 39 states and the District of Columbia, supporting 333 proposals from 257 small businesses and 41 research institutions. Each proposal team will receive $150,000 – a 20% increase over previous years’ funding. 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.

      Awardees include Ad Astra Rocket Company, which will use its funding to develop a new way of manufacturing part of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, or VASIMR, engine. SCOUT received funding for technology to make relative navigation more resilient and enable more autonomous rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking. And Fibertek received funding to develop 100G space laser transceiver technology using terrestrial optical fiber communications. 

      “Small businesses have the creative edge and expertise needed to help our agency solve our common and complex challenges, and they are crucial to maintaining NASA’s leadership in space. The SBIR program is one of the key ways we do that as well as creating jobs in a growing, sustainable space economy,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy.

      This follows after NASA awarded Phase II funding to 110 small businesses in April.