NASA granted $98 million in Small Business Innovation Research funds to 92 companies with projects focused on mission areas such as climate science and space exploration.
The awards were distributed among 112 proposals moving on to Phase II of the SBIR program, the agency said Wednesday.
Among the SBIR Phase II grantees, 31 percent were first-time awardees and 28 percent were underrepresented small businesses, said Jenn Gustetic, director of early-stage innovation and partnerships for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
Ad Astra Rocket Company will use the funding to design, manufacture and test its full-scale embedded radio frequency coupler for the plasma “heater” stage of the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket.
The technology is being developed to aid in faster travel to Mars and other regions of outer space.
NASA chose Reaction Systems for its proposed space suit enhancements. The Colorado-based company is designing a novel sorbent that can eliminate carbon dioxide and humidity from the oxygen supply of astronauts, a technology that could also reduce the carbon footprint of power plants.
The projects are scattered across 28 states and are expected to be completed in two years.