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Small Businesses with Big Plans for the Moon and Mars

Small Businesses with Big Plans for the Moon and Mars

Today is Small Business Saturday, which the U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA) recognizes as a day to celebrate and support small
businesses and all they do for their communities.



We are proud to partner with small
businesses across the country through NASA’s Small
Business Innovative Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer
(STTR) programs, which have
funded the research, development and demonstration of innovative space technologies
since 1982. This year, we’ve awarded 571
SBIR/STTR contracts totaling
nearly $180 million to companies who will support our future exploration:

  • Techshot, Inc. was selected to bioprint micro-organs in a
    zero-gravity environment for research and testing of organs-on-chip devices, which simulate
    the physiological functions of body organs at a miniature scale for health
    research without the need for expensive tests or live subjects.
  • CertainTech, Inc., with the George Washington University, will
    demonstrate an improved water recovery system for restoring nontoxic water from
    wastewater using nanotechnology.
  • Electrochem, Inc. was contracted to create a compact and lightweight regenerative fuel cell system that can store energy from
    an electrolyzer during the lunar day to be used for operations during
    the lunar night.



Small businesses are also developing
technologies for the Artemis missions to the Moon and for human and robotic
exploration of Mars. As we prepare to land the first woman and next man on the
Moon by 2024, these are just a few of the small businesses working with us to
make it happen.

Commercial Lunar Payload Delivery

Masten Space Systems, Astrobotic and Tyvak
Nano-Satellite Systems
are three NASA SBIR/STTR alumni now eligible to bid on NASA delivery services to the lunar
surface through Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts. Other small
businesses selected as CLPS providers include Ceres Robotics, Deep Space
, Intuitive Machines, Moon Express, and Orbit Beyond. Under the Artemis program, these
companies could land robotic missions on the Moon to perform science
experiments, test technologies and demonstrate capabilities to help the
human exploration that will follow. The first delivery could be as early
as July 2021.


A Pathfinder CubeSat

One cornerstone of our return to the
Moon is a small spaceship called Gateway that
will orbit our nearest neighbor to provide more access to the lunar
surface. SBIR/STTR alum Advanced Space
will develop a CubeSat that
will test out the lunar orbit planned for Gateway, demonstrating how to enter
into and operate in the unique orbit. The Cislunar Autonomous Positioning
System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) could launch as early
as December 2020.


Point for Moon to Mars

We selected 14
companies as part of our Tipping
Point solicitation, which fosters the development of critical, industry-led
space capabilities for our future missions. These small businesses all proposed
unique technologies that could benefit the Artemis program.

Many of these small businesses are also
NASA SBIR/STTR alumni whose Tipping Point awards are related to their SBIR or
STTR awards. For example, Infinity Fuel
Cell and Hydrogen, Inc.
(Infinity Fuel) will develop a power and energy
product that could be used for lunar rovers, surface equipment, and habitats.
This technology stems from a new type of fuel cell that Infinity Fuel developed
with the help of NASA SBIR/STTR awards.

and Astrobotic are also small businesses whose Tipping Point award can
be traced back to technology developed through the NASA SBIR/STTR program. CU
Aerospace will build a CubeSat with two different propulsion systems, which
will offer high performance at a low cost, and Astrobotic will develop small
rover “scouts” that can host payloads and interface with landers on the lunar


Businesses, Big Impact

This is just a handful of the small
businesses supporting our journey back to the Moon and on to Mars, and just a taste
of how they impact the economy and American innovation. We are grateful for the
contributions that small businesses make—though they be but “small,” they are

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