NASA Seeks Small Business Innovation Research for Future Missions, Commercialization

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Small businesses are at the cutting edge of research, with fresh and unexpected ideas. NASA hopes to leverage innovative small business concepts for use on Earth, at the Moon and beyond.

NASA’s Small Business and Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs seek proposals that could be integrated into NASA missions and commercial markets. The 2019 solicitation encourages U.S. small businesses and research institutions to submit ideas related to NASA’s aeronautics, human exploration, science and space technology objectives.

“Small businesses are a source of innovation within the United States,” said Jenn Gustetic, SBIR/STTR program executive for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate in Washington. “We see examples time and time again of small companies developing and delivering new technologies using NASA-supported platforms such as the International Space Station and those provided through the Flight Opportunities program.”

SBIR/STTR awards in the International Space Station utilization subtopics, for example, help small businesses demonstrate their innovations in space. Over a dozen awards since 2010 resulted in five flight demonstrations onboard the space station and more than $9 million in subsequent non-SBIR/STTR investment.

Moving forward, NASA also wants SBIR/STTR proposers to consider developing lunar payloads for in-space demonstration enabled by the selection of nine U.S. companies eligible to bid on the agency’s lunar delivery services.

Of over one hundred subtopics in the new SBIR/STTR solicitation, 18 subtopics – ranging from in-situ resource utilization to energy storage to coordination of space vehicle swarms and more – specifically highlight the lunar payload opportunity. While not all proposals from these subtopics are expected to submit a payload deliverable, suitable payloads may be eligible (through subsequent competitive selection) for delivery to the lunar surface at no cost.

These technology areas will help NASA understand the lunar resource potential, the lunar environment and effects on human life, and how to live and work on the lunar surface. Early missions will mark an important step toward long-term study and human exploration of the Moon, and eventually Mars.

“It’s exciting that small businesses can help us achieve our goals on Earth as well as exploration goals beyond low-Earth orbit,” said Gustetic. “We strongly considered how to connect companies with emerging opportunities, like NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, as we determined the 2019 solicitation subtopics. With the addition of new subtopics relevant to lunar payloads, we hope to encourage the development of small business technologies for use on the Moon.”

NASA’s SBIR/STTR programs are highly competitive and proposals are evaluated based on scientific and technical merit and feasibility, experience, qualifications and facilities, effectiveness of the proposed work plan, commercial potential and feasibility, and price reasonableness. NASA will select proposals offering the most advantageous technology to the government and the programs. The 2019 solicitation for Phase I is open Feb. 5 through March 29, 2019.

Phase I awards are valued at approximately $125,000 for up to six months for SBIR and 13 months for STTR to establish the scientific, technical and commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation in fulfillment of NASA needs. Phase I awardees can then apply for Phase II awards, valued up to $750,000 for up to two additional years, that are focused on the development, demonstration, and delivery of the proposed innovation. Phase III is the commercialization of innovative technologies, products and services resulting from either a Phase I or Phase II contract. This includes further development of technologies for transition into NASA programs, other government agencies or the private sector.

NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the SBIR/STTR programs under the Space Technology Mission Directorate.

For more information about the 2019 SBIR/STTR solicitation, visit:

For more information about the SBIR/STTR programs, visit: