A new amount of funding from NASA will help small companies develop technologies to advance space exploration, climate research and more. In mid-April, NASA selected 112 proposals from 92 small US companies to receive funding from Phase II of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, totaling approximately $98 million.
This program provides start-up funding and other support to small businesses. with ideas to help advance the goals of NASA and aerospace technology. In Phase II, awardees build on the success of the first phase of the program to bring their technologies closer to real-world use. This year, Phase II awards have risen to $850,000 and awardees will have 24 months to execute them.
“These Phase II awards support a variety of technologies that have the potential to be transformative for so many different projects and missions at NASA,” said Jenn Gustetic, director of Early-Stage Innovation and Partnerships for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) in Washington. “In addition, it is important that we are including the innovative potential of all small businesses and entrepreneurs in the United States, which is why we are proud that 28% of these awards go to underrepresented small businesses and 31% to first-time winners. instead of Phase II of SBIR”.
Many of the selected technologies could support NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration targetsincluding the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), an electrothermal booster under development for possible use in spacecraft propulsion that would enable faster space travel to places like Mars.
NASA also selected technologies that could be used in future space suits, including a material developed by Reaction Systems, LLC, a small company based in Golden, Colorado. In the Phase II project, Reaction Systems will continue to develop new and improved adsorbents that remove carbon dioxide and moisture from crew members’ oxygen supply. This technology also has possible applications to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of power plants.