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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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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New Defense Secretary Arrives at Pentagon, Convenes COVID Meeting

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PENTAGON—Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III arrived at the Pentagon today and hit the ground running, greeting the senior staff and then immediately heading into meetings on combating the coronavirus. The Senate confirmed Austin at 11 a.m.; the vote was 93-2. He arrived at the Pentagon around noon and was “administratively sworn in” soon afterward.

Austin chaired a COVID-19 briefing attended by Deputy Secretary David L. Norquist, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, members of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Staff, DOD COVID-19 Coordinator Max Rose, the acting service secretaries, the service military chiefs and combatant commanders. The Senate and the House of Representatives waived the requirement that a defense secretary must have been retired seven years before assuming the position. Austin assured congressional leaders that he fully believes in civilian control of the U.S. military.

During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin addressed this issue. “I was a general and a soldier, and I’m proud of that,” he said. “But today, I appear before you as a citizen, the son of a postal worker and a homemaker from Thomasville, Georgia, and I’m proud of that, too. If you confirm me, I am prepared to serve now as a civilian, fully acknowledging the importance of this distinction.” Austin, a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., retired from the Army as the commander of U.S. Central Command in 2016.

In some of his first acts, Austin is contacting allies and partners around the world to assure them of America’s security commitments. His first call to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, is proof of the importance Austin places on allies.

Conquering COVID tops the immediate list of missions, but Austin also must configure the department to face China, which he called America’s “pacing threat” in his testimony. He also must consider the actions and strategy of a resurgent Russia. Iran remains a U.S. concern in the Middle East, and U.S. troops are still deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. North Korea is a wild card in the Indo-Pacific.

Threats from violent extremism remain. Although the physical caliphate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has been eliminated, remnants of the group are still dangerous, DOD officials have said. Other groups, which share the toxic ideology, exist in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Austin also must keep his eyes on the future, continuing to build a department that has the capabilities needed to deter any foe and, if deterrence fails, to defeat that threat.

Source and photo: Pentagon

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Top 25 Tech Stories from 2020

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WASHINGTON ―The wait is finally over for the very end of 2020. The latest lists from Industry of top stories in tech, cyber, and STEM likely will loom much larger in the fog of 2021. Topping the charts for 2020 during National BDPA’s 45th Anniversary year were stories directly and indirectly related to COVID-19Big TechCybersecurity, and Social Unrest amidst a wider and much deeper ‘Digital Chasm‘ connecting underserved communities with their respective populations during a pandemic.

The Top 25

Most of the top 25 stories highlighted below for 2020 previously were shared with Industry, communities of color, traditionally marginalized communities, and underserved communities inside or on the covers of weekly and monthly publications. 

25. Earth Day Tech Summit: BDPA and UDC Earth Day Summits go virtual due to COVID-19. [April 2020 edition of bdpatoday]

24. Digital Divide: 51,000 laptops with Internet services were provided to students in Detroit, MI. [bdpatoday.com]

23U.S. Naval Academy: Midshipman First Class Sydney Barber becomes the first Black female to lead Brigade of Midshipmen. Upon graduation in May of 2021, MIDN Barber will receive her commission as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. [bdpatoday 11.14.20 ICYMI edition]

22. Zoom: In order to meet exponential growth and unprecedented demand, Oracle is selected as a cloud infrastructure provider for Zoom meetings. [bdpatoday 05.02.20 ICYMI edition]

21. U.S. Navy: LTJG Madeline G. Swegle becomes the U.S. Navy’s first Black female Tactical Air (TACAIR) jet pilot. [July 2020 edition of bdpatoday]

20. NIST: The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Privacy Framework Version 1.0 was released to help organizations identify and manage privacy risk for building innovative products and services while protecting individuals’ privacy. [ bdpatoday 01.18.20 ICYMI edition]

19. Digital Divide: T-Mobile launches Project 10-Million. [bdpatoday 10.03.20 ICYMI edition]

18. COVID-19: Apple and Google partner on contact-tracing technology. [bdpatoday.com]

17. Tesla: Headquarters and Gigafactory moves are heading to Austin, TX. [bdpatoday.com]

16. HPC: Lewis Hamilton wins 7th FIA Formula One championship powered by edge-to-core analytics with high-performance computing (HPC) from HPE. [bdpatoday 11.28.20 ICYMI edition]

15. COBOL: Federal, State, and Local governments call for more COBOL programmers to assist staff with stimulus, relief, and unemployment checks. [bdpatoday 04.04.20 ICYMI edition]

14. Exascale Day!: October 18th is Exascale Day. HPE, JEF, and BDPA welcomed “10 to the 18th power” or “10^18” during Exascale Day Weekend launching a series of supercomputer, HPC, and artificial intelligence (Ai) webinars. [October 2020 edition of bdpatoday]

13. Digital Divide: Best Buy Foundation awards a community grant to BDPA’s Tablets For Teensprogram and regional initiatives. [bdpatoday.com]

12. BDPA2020: National BDPA’s 45th Anniversary, Annual Technology Conference, Diversity Career Fair, I.T. Showcase, Mobile App Showcase, and the annual National High School Computer Competition (HSCC) collectively go 100-percent virtual for the first time in the Association’s history. #BDPA2020 was successfully delivered across all mobile platforms. [August 2020 Special Edition of bdpatoday

11. USASMDC: The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and BDPA Huntsville launch a new Cyber Workforce initiative with the U.S. Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC.) [bdpatoday 10.31.20 ICYMI edition]

10. Digital Divide: Microsoft awards $15 million in Community Skills Grants, an investment over three years to fifty (50) Black- and African American-led nonprofits that are working to increase skill development and economic opportunities. The H.O.P.E. Project DMV in partnership with National BDPA’s Greater Washington, D.C. Chapter (bdpadc.org) are one of Microsoft’s grant recipients for 2020. [bdpatoday.com]

9. AFRL: In fiscal year 2021 (FY21), the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program seeks to ink new and innovative deals with emerging small businesses and HBCU mission partners to meet or exceed the Department of the Air Force’s (DAF) priorities. [bdpatoday May 2020 edition] 

8. Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin’s latest rise in 2020. For the first time in its history, Bitcoin reached $20,000. According to CNBC, the world’s most-valuable virtual currency traded 5.6% higher on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, to a new price of around $20,600, taking its year-to-date gains north of 180%! [bdpatoday.com]

7. SpaceX: The launch of two NASA astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) marked the first private spaceflight company to send a crewed spacecraft into space. [bdpatoday June 2020 edition] 

6. SolarWinds: Government agencies ‘hacked’ again ― stories from Federal, State, and Local agencies are still unfolding as we venture deeper into 2021. [bdpatoday.com]

5. Wall Street: Nasdaq advances “diversity” as stocks in 2020 across most major indices reached record highs. Nasdaq soon may adopt new listing rules related to board diversity and disclosures. [bdpatoday.com]

4. White House: As the daughter of two immigrants from Jamaica and India, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ historic election breaks several barriers. “All eyes are on Georgia” as the next President of the Senate awaits Georgia’s runoff election results to determine control of the U.S. Senate. [bdpatoday November 2020 edition] 

3. Big Tech vs. Uncle Sam: On October 6, 2020, bdpatoday.com featured a story about the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee’s release of findings of its more than 16-month long investigation into the state of competition in the digital economy, especially the challenges presented by the dominance of Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook and their business practices. On October 20, 2020, bdpatoday.com shared a story from the Department of Justice (DOJ.) DOJ — along with eleven state Attorneys General — filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Google from unlawfully maintaining monopolies through anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and search advertising markets and to remedy the competitive harms. In 2021 and the foreseeable future, “Big Tech” will have its day in Congress and the Courts from at least two branches of government. In the pipeline will be renewed battles over Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (at 47 U.S.C. § 230). “Section 230” provides immunity for content providers and website publishers from third-party content. [bdpatoday.com]

2. COVID-19: “All Hands On Deck” for scientists, engineers, physicians, logisticians, STEM technicians, and I.T. professionals. “Digital divides” and “heath desert” challenges across the globe in underserved communities are hampering vaccine distributions as 2020 fades away. [bdpatoday December 2020 edition]

Number 1. Digital Divide and Social Unrest: Black Data Matters, Black Tech Matters, Black Consumers Matter, all lives matter, every student ― #BDPAfuture ― really matters. Founded by Earl A. Pace, Jr. in Philadelphia, PA as Black Data Processing Associates, BDPA was established in 1975 to promote and share awareness across traditionally underserved or marginalized communities of new “Data Processing” careers with related technical job openings in “Computer Science” fields. Today, BDPA’s mission has not waivered.

The pandemic of 2020 coupled with civil unrest across several U.S. cities revealed widening ‘digital chasms’ with news deserts, health deserts, and food deserts in every corner of America leading up to our top stories for 2020. Systemic racism, cultural biases, social discord, oppression from deep within our society’s soul, and gerrymandered redlining transgressions still are shrewdly perpetuated today through outdated laws, discriminatory policies, algorithmic bias, obsolete technology, and dilapidated infrastructures. To this end, our lead success stories feature BDPA, its ICT Industry partners, major corporations, and local BDPA Chapter mission-partners making impact investments to help eliminate “deserts” within digitally divided communities as millions of students, teachers, and parents where forced home; many with little or no access to high speed Internet services. [bdpatoday.com]

In Memoriam

Last October, National BDPA celebrated the life of Vivian C. Wilson, the first women elected to the Association’s chief executive role of National BDPA President.

BDPA Nation also said goodbyes in 2020 to iconic Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman; Dr. George Robert Carruthers, an inventor, physicist, engineer and space scientist; Roderick “Rod” Wesley Flakes, former President, BDPA (Boston) Mass MetroWest Chapter and engineer at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC); U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures” Katherine Johnson; U.S. Representative John LewisNorman Shakespeare, former Vice President of Strategic Planning, BDPA (Boston) Mass MetroWest Chapter; model and restaurateur Barbara “B” Smith; and Charles “Chuck” Yeager, World War II ace fighter pilot and U.S. Air Force quintessential test pilot.

Up Next

2021 has arrived! In May 2021, bdpatoday (ISSN 1946-1429) launches its 15th year to proudly serve more I.T. technicians and cybersecurity professionals, new HBCU Chapters, new student members, and new consumers in every industry. To add your team’s success stories in tech, cyber, and STEM along with new campaigns or press releases, contact our team directly at: info@bdpatoday.org – or – press@bdpadc.org.

₵ode on¢e. $ell Many!  bdpatoday.com

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Key words: #5G #Ai #AirForce #AFRL #Army #BDPA #bdpatoday #BigTech #Bitcoin #COBOL #cryptocurrency #cyber #DigitalDivide #diversity #DOD #DOJ #Gigafactory #hackers #HBCU #HPC #HSCC #Huntsville #ICT #innovation #MarineCorps #Navy #Nasdaq #SBIR #SEC #Section230 #SMDC #SpaceForce #STEM #STTR #supercomputer #tech #technology #USASMDC #WallStreet

DoD Invests $50 million in Minority-Serving Institutions For Scientific Research

PENTAGON—The Department of Defense (DoD), through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), is pleased to announce awards totaling $50 million to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions (HBCUs/MSIs) to conduct research in defense priority areas. The competitive awards cover two discrete funding opportunities under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 DoD HBCU/MSI Research and Education Program.

“Our nation’s HBCUs and MSIs are at the forefront of innovation and help strengthen the Department’s fundamental advancements in priority scientific areas. Building upon the DoD’s strong history of investing in HBCUs and MSIs, today’s announcement totaling $50 million demonstrates our continued commitment to these institutions and their contributions to advance transformative defense research,” said Michael Kratsios, acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

A merit competition administered by the Army Research Office selected 31 HBCUs and MSIs for awards totaling $25.4 million. The awardees will conduct three-year research projects in scientific disciplines including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, autonomous vehicles, big data analytics, and quantum computing. Made under policy and guidance from OUSD(R&E), with participation from the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the awards support the research initiatives of OUSD(R&E) and all three Services and will advance technologies directly relevant to the National Defense Strategy.

The FY 2020 funding opportunity announcement received over 160 proposals. The list of awardees is available on the FY 2020 DoD HBCU/MI Research and Education Program (REP) Research Awards(PDF).

A separate $24.5 million merit competition administered by the Army Research Laboratory selected four HBCUs/MSIs to establish Centers of Excellence (COEs) under the DoD Research and Education Program. The institutions and their academic partners will conduct cutting-edge research in defense priority areas over a five-year period centering on artificial intelligence and machine learning, aerospace, quantum science, and fully networked command, control, and communications.

The four awardees are:

  • Howard University, Center of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Howard University and collaborator Old Dominion University will address research and engineering challenges to building safe, robust, and trustworthy AI to support DoD’s modernization priorities. Applications include AI for the battlefield internet of things, electronic warfare, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, and machine vision.
  • Tuskegee University, Aerospace Education, Research, and Innovation Center (AERIC): AERIC will expand the future aerospace technical workforce and enhance research in areas including fatigue damage tolerance, experimental aerodynamics, and the performance of material and components under extreme environment conditions.
  • Delaware State University, Center of Excellence in Advanced Quantum Sensing: In partnership with Northwestern University, the center is dedicated to providing a distinctive research program in quantum sensing and prioritizing quantum information science-related education.
  • University of California, Riverside (UCR), Center for Networked Configurable Command, Control, and Communications for Rapid Situational Awareness: UCR along with the University of California, San Diego, will address fundamental research questions in the development of a robust, resilient, secure, and fully networked command, control and communications infrastructure.

Made under policy and guidance from OUSD(R&E), with participation from the Navy and Air Force research laboratories, the COE selections were based on a merit review by a panel of experts. All awards will be made by the Army Research Laboratory. The list of awardees and their academic partners is available on DOD’s site:

https://basicresearch.defense.gov/Programs/HBCU-MI-Program/

Together the FY 2020 research and education awards and COE awards will help drive the DoD HBCU/MSI Program toward its goals to (a) enhance research programs and capabilities in scientific and engineering disciplines critical to the national security functions of DoD; (b) expand the capacity of HBCUs/MSIs to participate in DoD research programs and activities; and (c) increase the number of graduates, including underrepresented minorities, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields important to the defense mission.

OUSD(R&E) is responsible for research, development, and prototyping activities across DoD. OUSD(R&E) fosters technological advancement across DoD to ensure the long-term superiority of the American joint force.


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SpaceX crew docks after historic commercial transportation launch with NASA

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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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Congress Hosts HBCU Leaders for Event on Education, R&D, and Prosperity

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WASHINGTON — Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) hosted the fourth annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Fly-In event with U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.)  This annual Fly-In represented nearly 40 HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the country.

The Fly-In event featured two panels with members of Congress. One in the morning with Scott, Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). Walker hosted the second panel, which included guests U.S. Representative French Hill (R-A.R) and U.S. Representative Andy Barr (R-K.Y).

Among topics discussed were funding sources and the passage of the FUTURE Act, legislation Walker led to provide permanent resources for HBCUs and MSIs. Walker and Scott also led a robust session on the benefit of Opportunity Zones and economic policies to bridge economic and educational divides across minority communities.

Scott and Fly-In attendees honored Walker with a framed photo at the conclusion of the conference to thank him for his relentless dedication to HBCUs over the past six years. His district also includes the largest HBCU in the United States, North Carolina A&T State University.

Walker has been a champion of HBCUs and MSIs from the very beginning of his time in Congress, fighting for the funding and recognition they deserve. Walker also delivered welcoming remarks this week at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s (TMCF) Fly-In.

scott-hbcu_fly-in-2020b

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) (above, center) moderates a panel with Senate colleagues (seated L-R) Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). Senator Scott and Congressman Mark Walker (R-NC) co-hosted the Fourth Annual 2020 HBCU Fly-In in Washington, D.C. This annual event featured a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of Members of Congress to celebrate America’s more than 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Related funding discussions with both chambers of Congress, both sides of the aisle, Professional Staff, and event follow-up requests for HBCU/MSI inclusion include, but are not limited to:

  • Increasing HBCU/MSI research and development (R&D) participation
  • Upgrading HBCU/MSI infrastructures
  • Developing and upgrading HBCU/MSI super-computing facilities, capabilities, training, and staffing
  • Increasing HBCU/MSI pipelines with robust High School and JROTC computer, cyber, robotics, and drone training with competitions from as early as 7th or 8th grades

Funding requests were submitted this quarter to the House and Senate’s respective professional staff  on Appropriations, Armed Services, or select Committees on Intelligence for the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund legislative incentives to broaden mission-partnerships and increase subcontracts for HBCU/MSIs with Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) and University Affiliated Research Centers (UARCs).  FFRDCs and UARCs are not-for-profit entities sponsored and primarily funded by the U.S. government to address technical needs that cannot be met as effectively by existing government or contractor resources.

Select here to read or download this edition.Similar funding requests for HBCU/MSIs also apply to the Department of Transportation (DOT) which invests in the future of transportation and “SMART Cities” through its University Transportation Centers (UTC) Program. The UTC program awards and administers grants to consortia of colleges and universities across the United States.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), including Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), who chairs the CBC and serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD), who serves as Vice Chair of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, also participated.

— Sources and photos courtesy BDPA-DC and the offices
of Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Mark Walker

Commemorating Women's History Month

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