NASA awards millions of dollars a year to small companies by the SBIR program, however typically it’s plenty of small awards to lots of of corporations. Breaking with precedent, at present the company introduced a new multi-million-dollar funding track and its 4 first recipients, addressing urgent needs for the Artemis program.
The Small Business Innovation Research program has varied forms all through the federal government, however it typically supplies non-dilutive funding on the order of some hundred thousand dollars over a couple years to nudge a nascent technology in direction of commercialization.
NASA has discovered however, that there’s a hole between the medium-size Phase II awards and Phase III, which is more like a full-on government contract; There are already “Extended” and “Pilot” programs that may present as much as an extra $1M to promising companies. But the actual fact is space is expensive and time consuming, and a few want larger sums to finish the tech that NASA has already indicated confidence in or a need for.
Therefore the creation of this new tier of Phase II award: lower than a full contract would amount to as much as $5M — nothing to sneeze at, and it comes with comparatively few strings hooked up.
The first 4 corporations to gather a check from this new, as but unnamed program are all pursuing technologies that will likely be of particular use throughout the Artemis lunar missions:
- Fibertek: Optical communications for small spacecraft that may assist relay massive quantities of data from lunar landers to Earth
- Qualtech Systems: Autonomous monitoring, fault-prevention, and well being management techniques for spacecraft just like the proposed Lunar Gateway and probably different vehicles and habitats
- Pioneer Astronautics: Hardware to supply oxygen and metal from lunar regolith — if achieved, an extremely helpful form of high-tech alchemy
- Protoinnovations: Traction management to enhance dealing with of robotic and crewed rovers on lunar terrain
It’s essential to notice that these corporations aren’t new to the game — they’ve a long and ongoing relationship with NASA, as SBIR grants happen over a number of years. “Each business has a track record of success with NASA, and we believe their technologies will have a direct impact on the Artemis program,” stated NASA’s Jim Reuter in a news report.
The complete awarded is $17M, however NASA, citing ongoing negotiations, couldn’t be more particular concerning the breakdown besides that the quantities awarded fall between $2.5M and $5M per firm.