NASA Supports Small Business Research to Power Future Exploration

WASHINGTON—NASA has selected hundreds of small businesses and dozens of research institutions to develop technology to help drive the future of space exploration, ranging from novel sensors and electronics to new types of software and cutting-edge materials. The newly awarded projects under the agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program also include a high-power electric rocket and a coating to make solar panels more efficient that could be used both in space and here on Earth.

The awards total nearly $50 million, with investments spread out over 39 states and Washington, D.C. Under the selection, 333 proposals from 257 small businesses and 41 research institutions – including 10 Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) – will be awarded first-round funding for technology development. View the full lists of SBIR awardees and STTR awardees online.

NASA investments in American small businesses and research institutions help provide the innovations needed for the exciting and ambitious missions on the agency’s horizon and foster robust commercial space and technology sectors.

bdpatoday | ICYMI 04.30.22“NASA is working on ambitious, groundbreaking missions that require innovative solutions from a variety of sources – especially our small businesses,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. “Small businesses have the creative edge and expertise needed to help our agency solve our common and complex challenges, and they are crucial to maintaining NASA’s leadership in space. The SBIR program is one of the key ways we do that as well as creating jobs in a growing, sustainable space economy.”

Each proposal team will receive $150,000 – a 20% increase over previous years’ funding – to establish the merit and feasibility of their innovations. Phase I SBIR contracts are awarded to small businesses and last for six months, while Phase I STTR contracts are awarded to small businesses in partnership with a research institution and last for 13 months.

“The selections span a breadth of areas to empower the agency’s work in human exploration, space technology, science, and aeronautics,” said Jenn Gustetic, director of early-stage innovation and partnerships for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “We’re excited about the uses for these technologies for Artemis and other missions, as well as their potential use in the commercial space industry and people’s everyday lives.”

About 30% of the awards will go to first-time NASA SBIR/STTR recipients. This includes Ad Astra Rocket Company based in Webster, Texas. With its Phase I award, the company will develop a new way of manufacturing part of its Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, or VASIMR, engine – a high-power electric rocket engine the company has been working on with NASA for 25 years. In the engine, powerful radiofrequency waves are launched by special antennas, called couplers. The waves ionize gas into plasma, which is then accelerated to provide rocket thrust. The Phase I funding will be used to manufacture couplers in a way that increases the engine’s power limit. This innovation will help move the entire engine closer to commercialization, where it could be used for high-maneuverability satellites, lunar settlement cargo delivery, and more.

Nearly 25% of the selected companies are women-owned, veteran-owned, disadvantaged, and/or HUBzone small businesses. For example, D2K Technologies, a women- and minority-owned small business based in Oceanside, California, will create a monitoring and advisory system for health management of solenoid operated valves (SOV) used in industrial applications with its Phase I award. This technology could find use in many of NASA’s research centers, testing centers, and launch sites, since SOVs are basic components of most fluid systems. And, with the widespread use of SOVs in industrial applications, the system could be useful to oil and gas, nuclear, manufacturing, power generation, chemical, food, and pharmaceutical companies. This eight-person company is also a first-time NASA SBIR awardee.

“Finding and building a diverse community of entrepreneurs is a central part of our program’s outreach, and the efforts to reach them can start even before Phase I,” said Gynelle Steele, deputy program executive for NASA’s SBIR/STTR program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “For example, working in partnership with NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project, we started offering M-STTR planning grants last year, which incentivized partnerships between MSIs and small businesses and prepared them to submit a STTR Phase I proposal in 2022.”

National BDPA’s “Space City” Chapter in Huntsville, Alabama is a Meta Data Center  Community Action Grant winner for FY22 . Funding for nonprofits and schools support long-term vitality of Huntsville.

M-STTR awardee Oakwood University, a historically Black university (HBCU) based in Huntsville, Alabama, will continue working alongside SSS Optical Technologies, a small business also based in Huntsville, using their Phase I award to develop a new type of coating for photovoltaic (PV) cells embedded in solar sails. The coating could generate extra electricity and improve the overall PV conversion efficiency, which could advance solar sailing and other power and energy conversion needs for space exploration. This technology could improve the efficiency of commercial solar panels.

NASA selected Phase I proposals to receive funding by judging their technical merit and commercial potential. Based on their progress during Phase I, companies may submit proposals for $850,000 in Phase II funding to develop a prototype, as well as subsequent SBIR/STTR Post Phase II opportunities. The NASA SBIR/STTR program is part of the Space Technology Mission Directorate and is managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley.

To learn more about NASA’s SBIR/STTR program and apply to future opportunities, visit: https://sbir.nasa.gov/.

— Source and photos: NASA


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Air Force HBCU/MI Collider
Select here to register for the third annual Air Force HBCU/MI Outreach Initiative Collider

Air Force program hosts event focusing on Historically Black Colleges

Second annual virtual event expected to draw even more attendees

DAYTON, OH—The Air Force will host its second annual Air Force Historically Black Colleges & Universities/Minority Serving Institutions (AF HBCU/MSI) Outreach Initiative Collider August 12-13, 2021. The collider will feature speakers from the Air Force, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Small Business Administration (SBA), Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Minority Owned Businesses as well as partners in academic, business, industry, and government focused on sharing resource and engagement tips and trends to support collaborations in research and development of technological solutions for our warfighters.  Researchers and Entrepreneurs are invited to attend this free event.

#HBCUAimHigh2021

The Air Force Historically Black Colleges & Universities/Minority Serving Institutions (AF HBCU/MSI) Outreach Initiative is reaching out to HBCU/MSIs with an opportunity for funding research and development through strategic partnerships with small businesses and research institutions. The initiative is driven by three main objectives:

  • Address barriers that exist in the traditional Air Force acquisition process;
  • Expand the use of Open Topic solicitations, eliminating lengthy and cumbersome proposal processes; and
  • Reach thinkers who others would not have considered doing business with the U.S. government.

One year in and AF HBCU/MSI’s initiative is tracking success to Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) proposal submissions and awards. 

Anissa Lumpkin, Program Manager, Air Force Research Laboratory, Small Business –and an HBCU graduate herself — says the need to reach out to these organizations was very apparent to her. “HBCUs have the capabilities of getting tech-based government contracts, but — for one reason or another – haven’t capitalized on Air Force opportunities. This outreach program stepped up to bridge that gap and make it happen.”

The first Air Force HBCU/MSI Outreach Initiative Collider, pivoted to be held virtually in August of 2020, sent the program’s message out loud and clear across the internet, with the event’s social media posts seeing nearly 24,000 audience impressions through socialized marketing.

“Possibly more than any other year, 2020 not only showed us the increased necessity for innovative technology,” Lumpkin begins, “but also the urgent need for inclusion of ideas from areas that have traditionally been underserved. STEM students from all walks need to know that, if they have an idea and the willingness to work hard on it, the Air Force wants to help them make it a reality.” 

The AF HBCU/MSI Outreach Initiative Collider is held in connection the Black Data Processing Associates National Conference 2021.  Additional Collider details and free registration on is available at https://2021.bdpa.org/hbcu-collider/.



Contact:
Ms. Anissa Lumpkin, Senior Program Manager, Air Force Research Laboratory, Small Business Office
Event Coordinator:
Ms. Angela Morris, Lead Strategic Communications Specialist,  Air Force Research Laboratory, Small Business Office
Email:
AFRL.HBCU.MSI@US.AF.MIL

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BDPACON21
#BDPAcon21

CSAF delivers powerful message in new Air Force commercial

By Master Sgt. Chance Babin, Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — Air Force Chief of Staff General CQ Brown, Jr. delivers a powerful message about air power and diversity in a new Air Force commercial titled “Helmet.”

The dynamic 30-second spot aired for the first time on national TV during the NBA Finals pregame.

“I was a captain when I was asked to do an interview about diversity, and I shared this idea,” Brown said. “I want our adversaries to know that, no matter our respective backgrounds, our Airmen are unstoppable.”

For Air Force Recruiting Service’s top recruiter, the commercial is a slam dunk.

“The message is clear,” said Maj. Gen. Edward Thomas, AFRS commander. “As Airmen, we’re committed to ensuring we have the most capable and lethal air power in the world, and we want America’s best – the best from all of America – to come join us.”

Thomas emphasized that the Air Force is a warfighting organization, and the nation expects nothing less than the highest standards and a selection process that brings in the best Americans to become Airmen.

“When Gen. Brown became the CSAF, he clearly stated that the Air Force was going to  focus on what we do best – air power,” said Barry Dickey, AFRS director of strategic marketing. “We wanted to make a commercial that reinforced that priority, but also inspired Americans from all walks of life to serve in the Air Force.

“The power of this spot is in the underlying message and delivery. When I watch the commercial, I’m left with the understanding that the Air Force doesn’t care what you look like or where you come from,” Dickey said. “If you can do the job, we’ve got an opportunity for you. At the same time, I also get the message that the Air Force is about winning with air power, period. All of this is delivered by the leader of the Air Force in 30 seconds.”

AFRS and its advertising agency, GSD&M, originally planned to film two commercials with Brown at Edwards Air Force Base, California, with a focus on both diversity and air power.

The “Helmet” commercial was not in the original plans, but materialized as the day’s shooting progressed.

“While we were recording the voice-over for the commercials, Gen. Brown told a few stories and basically said what you hear in the commercial,” Dickey said. “When he did, I think everyone in the room immediately had the same thought – ‘we’ve got to record that!’ The creatives from GSD&M quickly turned his words into a script while we were filming and General Brown graciously agreed to perform on-camera.”

The commercial also fits squarely into AFRS Detachment 1’s efforts to reach into traditionally underserved communities to let people know about the opportunities to fly in the Air Force through programs designed to meet CSAF’s Rated Diversity Improvement initiative goals. For example, the Aim High Flight Academy gives disadvantaged youth a chance to learn to fly while being mentored by Air Force officers.

“We have a very healthy level of diversity in our enlisted ranks, but our officer and flying specialties look less like America,” Thomas said. “Air Force recruiting efforts have ramped up to better attract a cross-section of highly-qualified Americans into our ranks and specifically to consider flying opportunities.”

Source and photosUnited States Air Force (USAF)


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NOAA’s Global Systems Laboratory Welcomes Dr. DaNa Carlis As New Deputy Director

BOULDER, CO — DaNa L. Carlis, Ph.D., joined GSL as the Deputy Director in September 2020. He comes to GSL from the NOAA Weather Program Office (WPO), where he established the Earth Prediction Innovation Center (EPIC) Program. DaNa enjoys working between science, policy, and society to ensure better products and services for the American people. He is also passionate about leadership, diversity, and inclusion, and mentoring the next generation of scientists.

“I couldn’t be more grateful and excited to join GSL because of its focus on applied research and development, advanced technologies, and transitioning and improving research-to-operations with the National Weather Service (NWS). GSL aligns perfectly with my desire to provide better products and services to the American people. I’ve always wanted to do research that impacts people’s lives, and GSL is a premier NOAA research laboratory that provides innovative tools and services that lead to better decisions and ultimately save lives,” said Carlis. “As the GSL’s Deputy Director, I am committed to bringing strong leadership and listening skills along with a creative mind to continue to advance the GSL mission. In addition, I plan to continue to uphold GSL’s scientific prowess, which is displayed in our cutting-edge research portfolio that is widely recognized by the Weather Enterprise.”

DaNa attended Howard University in Washington, DC, and earned his B.S. degree in Chemistry (1999), and an M.S. (2002) and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science (2007) as a graduate student of the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Science and Meteorology (NCAS-M). In 2002, DaNa accepted a fellowship from the NOAA Office of Education Educational Partnership Program (EPP) as a member of the Graduate Sciences Program and completed his M.S thesis research at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) conducting an analysis of SO2 cross-sections for the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) satellite. He completed his Ph.D. dissertation on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, titled “Numerical Simulations of Island-Scale Airflow and the Maui Vortex Under Summer Trade-wind Conditions.” DaNa was the second male to receive a Ph.D. in Atmospheric Sciences since Howard’s inception in 1867.

Dr. DaNa Carlis

DaNa credits NCAS-M and NOAA’s Educational Partnership Program/Minority-Serving Institution EPP/MSI Program for allowing him to pursue what he loves and providing a pathway to federal employment. DaNa has held positions at the NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) as a research meteorologist working on NOAA’s Global Forecast System (GFS) Model (2007-2014), and as a policy advisor to NOAA’s Chief Scientist and NOAA’s Assistant Secretary of Environmental Observations and Prediction (2014-2016). DaNa is a graduate of NOAA’s Leadership Competency Development Program (LCDP) Class IX where he learned a great leadership lesson that’s been his mantra for the last few years and that’s to work in an environment where he’s comfortably uncomfortable.

DaNa is originally from Tulsa, OK. In his spare time, he enjoys cheering for his favorite sports team, the Oklahoma Sooners, mentoring boys from underrepresented communities that come from single-parent households, and traveling the world with his family. In 2016, he wrote a children’s book titled “MIT: Meteorologist in Training” and he’s published peer-reviewed papers. DaNa is married to Dr. Lydia Carlis, and they have a daughter, Dia Dannielle, who is a senior at Georgia State University. — bt

Source and photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Cover photo (above): Dr. DaNa Carlis keynotes BDPA’s 2019 annual Regional Earth Day Tech Summit
with Jr. Devs (coders and developers) and Regional High School Coding Competition (HSCC) finalists

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Tablets For Teens | tabletsforteens.org

General Brown formally installed as 22nd Air Force Chief of Staff

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. (AFNS)―proclaiming himself “proud, yet humbled,” General Charles Q. Brown, Jr. was officially installed August 6, 2020 as the Air Force’s 22nd Chief of Staff (CSAF), becoming the first African American in history to lead a military service as its highest ranking officer.

In remarks following the formal “Change of Responsibility” ceremony in which he took over from retiring General David L. Goldfein, the 21st Chief of Staff, Brown acknowledged an array of people who influenced his life. Among them were his wife, Sharene, and his parents, as well as a list of Air Force colleagues, including Goldfein and other “extraordinary leaders.”

Yet, cognizant of the moment in history, Brown also noted, “Today is possible due to the perseverance of those who went before me serving as an inspiration to me and many others.

tuskegee-bw_airmen2

“Those like the Tuskegee Airmen, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., Chappie James, African American leaders across our Air Force and military, past and present, to include today’s special guest, Ed Dwight, America’s first African American astronaut candidate,” he said.

“It is due to their trials and tribulations in breaking barriers that I can address you today as the Air Force Chief of Staff.”

Brown, who previously served as commander of Pacific Air Forces, was elevated to his new assignment during a solemn, socially distanced, 90-minute ceremony that focused on his achievements while also honoring Goldfein’s 37-year service in the Air Force and his four years as chief of staff.

Among those paying tribute were Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Department of the Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley. The ceremony also honored Goldfein as Esper presented him with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

Esper honored Dawn Goldfein as well, presenting her with the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Award.“Gen. Goldfein, Dave, our Airmen thrive in today’s environment because of your strong leadership and your steadfast commitment to upholding the core values of the Air Force – integrity, service, and excellence, each and every day,” Esper said. “The United States of America is safer because of you. Thank you for your lifetime of service to our great nation.”

Moments later in remarks to the new Chief of Staff, Esper said, “In returning to the Pentagon, General Brown brings with him more than 35 years of service distinguished by a depth of expertise and experience that makes him exceptionally qualified to be our nation’s next Air Force Chief of Staff.

“I am confident you will take the Air Force to greater heights and I’m excited to watch you lead.”

In her remarks, Barrett offered similar praise for Goldfein’s service and accomplishments. Like others she expressed confidence that Brown has the correct mix of experience and temperament to lead the Air Force to a bright and dominant future.

Brown, she said, “brings a wealth of joint leadership experiences and global perspectives to his new role as 22nd chief of staff of the Air Force. Embodying the Air Force core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do, General Brown has the right character, experience, and perspective to lead the United States Air Force.”

Like Goldfein and those who came before, Brown as chief of staff is responsible for ensuring the Air Force is trained, ready and equipped to accomplish any mission at any time.

thunderbirds-f35

Yet he’s also taking the reins of an Air Force in transition, one moving from a decades-long priority on combating and containing terrorism to a new era of Great Power Competition. As part of that new focus, the Air Force and entire U.S. military must be trained, ready and properly equipped to confront, deter and if necessary, defeat, challenges from Russia and China. It also comes at a time of heightened challenges from North Korea and other geopolitical shifts across Asia.

In his remarks, Brown said he would work to build on Goldfein’s accomplishments while also adding his own imprint to assure that the Air Force remains the most advanced, professional and lethal in the world.

“I am committed to addressing today’s challenges while preparing for the future so we can better compete, deter, and win,” he said, surrounded by an unmistakable lineage of historic aircraft, including a gleaming chrome-plated P-51 Mustang, a fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II and a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter.

“To do so, we must no longer defer, but must accelerate the needed change and tough choices we’ve often discussed. We must develop and empower leaders and provide the quality service and quality of life where our Airmen and families can reach their full potential,” he said.

Adding a dose of realism, Brown said, “No doubt there are challenges ahead that will be difficult, but not impossible. I look forward to working with the Joint Chiefs, providing our best military advice to address challenges the joint force faces today and will face in the future.”

As he noted in March when he was nominated to be chief of staff, Brown said again that he will continue to be guided by what he described as his “four tenets” of leadership – execute at a high standard; be disciplined in execution; pay attention to the details; and have fun.

In his farewell remarks, Goldfein like Brown listed those who influenced and shaped his career. Among others, he singled out Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright, calling him his “wingman.”

“Of all the decisions I made as chief, the best by far was hiring Chief Wright,” he said.

Goldfein also thanked his wife, Dawn, saying it was a “blessing” to have her “side by side” with him for his entire Air Force journey.

“For the past 37 years, she adjusted her dreams so I could follow mine,” he said.

Then, to Brown, Goldfein said, “As I took the chiefs walk for the final time (on Aug. 5), I could not be prouder that a true warrior, leader and personal friend will be taking his first walk of the chief tomorrow as chief of staff of the Air Force.

“Congratulations to both of you,” Goldfein said. “The future of our Air Force has never looked brighter!”

― U.S. Air Force

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Register here, today! Discover more about this year’s $97 million Air Force technology transfer programs for small businesses and research institutions.  Powered by BDPA during vBDPA2020, learn step-by-step approaches to capture start-up funding and defense contracts with HBCUs and start-ups.

Air Force Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) HBCU Collider. Select here to register today.

SpaceX crew docks after historic commercial transportation launch with NASA

Select here for exciting Air Force civilian careers in Cyber and Tech.

HAWTHORNE, CA — Space Exploration Technologies Corp., trading as SpaceX, is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company founded in 2002 by Elon Musk.  Musk, also the CEO of Tesla, set a goal of reducing space transportation costs enabling the colonization of Mars.

nasa-spacex-crew_2020-demo2Today’s successful docking of SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour spacecraft with the International Space Station (ISS), crewed by NASA astronauts (L-R) Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, is another major milestone for Demo-2’s historic mission.

The spacecraft launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Saturday, May 30. The mission is the first time astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011.

Discover more in the June 2020 edition of bdpatodayThe mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent NASA astronauts into orbit. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop and operate a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems capable of carrying crews to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station. Commercial transportation to and from the station will provide expanded utility, additional research time and broader opportunities for discovery on the orbiting laboratory.

The station is a critical testbed for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight. As commercial companies focus on providing human transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, NASA is freed up to focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions.

NASA-commcrew

The Commercial Crew Program represents a revolutionary approach to government and commercial collaborations for the advancement of space exploration.

— Sources and photos: NASA and SpaceX

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NASA Mourns the Passing of ‘Hidden Figure’ Katherine Johnson

katherine_johnson_john_glenn

HAMPTON, VA (BDPA Hampton Roads) — NASA announced today one of America’s beloved “Human Computers,” Katherine Johnson, has died at the age of 101. Ms. Johnson was a pioneering Hampton Roads and American icon featured in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

johnson-katherine_OBAMA01“NASA is deeply saddened by the loss of a leader from our pioneering days, and we send our deepest condolences to the family of Katherine Johnson. Ms. Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space,” said NASA Administrator Bridenstine.

Ms. Johnson is a distinguished recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and recently had NASA facilities renamed in her honor. 

Source and photos: NASA

 


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