NASA Selects 142 Proposals to Support Human Space Exploration
NASA recently announced that it has selected 142 proposals to receive Phase II contracts under the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The SBIR program is a three-phase program. Only proposals that were selected for a Phase I award are eligible to apply for a Phase II award.
Under the SBIR program, Phase I projects provide a foundation for the ongoing development, demonstration and delivery of the proposed innovation in Phase II. Phase II projects focus on the development, demonstration, and delivery of the innovations previously selected during Phase I. Phase III is focused on the commercialization of innovative technologies, products and services resulting from either a Phase I or II contract.
The projects selected under this Phase II award work to further the development of technologies in the areas of human exploration and operations, space technology, science, and aeronautics. Topics of the selected projects include:
- Solar panels that deploy like venetian blinds. The technology behind these panels can be used as a surface power source for crewed missions on the Moon and Mars. It offers benefits such as efficient power generation, lower procurement costs and reduced mass and stowed volume.
- Sensor technology for autonomous entry, descent and precision landing on planetary surfaces — a critical advancement for next generation human lunar landers.
- A type of permanent magnet that creates a bonding force between two halves with no moving parts, enabling in-space assembly of large platforms.
- A high-resolution X-ray instrument to analyze surface rocks and core samples on planets and asteroids. This technology could advance our understanding of the Moon, Mars and even Earth by providing unique analysis and reconstruction of samples.
- A suite of technologies for managing autonomous aircraft. The proposed solution aims to have a single dispatcher simultaneously monitor multiple flights, leading the way for future airspace and vehicle concepts.
“Small businesses play an important role in our science and exploration endeavors,” said Jim Reuter, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “NASA’s diverse community of partners, including small businesses across the country, helps us achieve our mission and cultivate the U.S. economy. Their innovations will help America land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024, establish a sustainable presence on the lunar surface a few years later, and pursue exciting opportunities for going to Mars and beyond.”