NASA has awarded $45 million in early-stage funding to more than 300 U.S. small- to medium-sized business (SMBs) and research operations on an accelerated schedule to help offset the impact of the pandemic on the enterprises.
The funding came from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, the release stated.
Selected companies will receive up to $125,000 to reveal the merit and feasibility of the innovations at the center of their proposals. Awardees have the option of applying for follow-on funding, which NASA stated in the release is allocated based on the success of prior work.
The proposals that prevailed in the latest round focused on “human exploration, space technology, science, and aeronautics,” NASA stated in the release. Of the 289 SMBs and 47 research institutions selected for funding, more than 30 percent are participating in one of the two programs for the first time.
NASA accelerated this year’s funding round by two months to get funds to small operations sooner, Jim Reuter, associate administrator for the NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said in the release.
“At NASA, we recognize that small businesses are facing unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic,” he said, according to the release.
Reuter added in the release that agency officials hopes the sooner-than-usual funding “helps provide a near-term boost for future success.”
Among the companies NASA said it is working with through the program are Syrnatec of Middletown, Connecticut, which the agency said in the release “will develop radiation tolerant, high-voltage, high-power diodes. This power management and distribution technology could enable the next generation of efficient high-power green technology in space and on Earth.”
Another awardee, Innoveering of Ronkonkoma, New York, “will use its SBIR award to develop a wind sensor to enable a flight path control system for high-altitude scientific balloon operations,” NASA stated in the release. “Outside of NASA, this technology could aid in providing more accurate weather predictions.”
Another awardee, Qubitekk of Vista, California, is set to work with the University of New Mexico to “develop a cheaper and more compact hardware package that provides a reliable calibration tool for detectors of quantum-sized information. This technology could be applied to secure satellite communication networks, deep-space laser communications, cybersecurity, and computing,” according to the release.