American small businesses received a big boost from NASA with its recent selection of 128 proposals to receive $96 million in awards that will be used to advance research and technology in Phase II of its 2017 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.
"We look forward to working with these promising small businesses to further advance NASA's missions," said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator for NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in a press announcement. "NASA is proud of our investment in the success of small businesses and its long-term impact on our economy."
Selected proposals were evaluated on a range of criteria: technical merit and feasibility, the experience, qualifications and capabilities of the submitting organization, and the effectiveness of the work plan and commercial potential.
Those awarded will be part of the development of technologies in aeronautics, human space exploration and operations, science and space technology. They will fill research and development needs in the following areas:
- Low-power, ultra-fast, deep-learning neuromorphic computer chips designed for unmanned aircraft systems, such as delivery drones.
- Solid-state oxygen concentrator and compressor designed to minimize hardware mass, volume and power footprint, while still performing at the required capabilities.
- Sensors and camera for detecting and tracking near-Earth asteroids, to help scientists detect, count and track near-Earth asteroids.
- New wheel concept for enhanced surface mobility to emulate the behavior of a variable pressure tire without the need or risk of an inflation system.
The Phase II awards are limited to small businesses who have previously been awarded a Phase I contract. Phase II focuses on the development, demonstration and delivery of the innovations from Phase I and are chosen through competitive evaluations based on set criteria. Phase II contracts last for 24 months with a maximum funding of $750,000.
The SBIR and STTR programs are managed for the Space Technology Mission Directorate STMD) by NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley. STMD focuses on the development of the cross-cutting, pioneering, new technologies needed by the agency to achieve its missions.