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Small Businesses Bring Space Technology Home
06.26.06
 
What do a space garden, a technology to treat contaminated groundwater, and a failure detection system used on space shuttle main engines have in common? They are all cutting-edge technologies that got their start in NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program or the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program through contracts with NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Beaker demonstration of treatment. Some of the innovative technologies in these programs even go on to win awards and recognition in both the public and private sector. Recently, the Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron technology developed at Kennedy to treat contaminated groundwater received NASA's Government and Commercial Invention of the Year for 2005.

Chuck Griffin, who manages both programs for Kennedy, said the seed funds from the programs are targeted to stimulate innovation to develop technologies in a way that enables commercialization and provides a benefit back to NASA.

Image at Right: NASA's Government and Commercial Invention of the Year for 2005 was awarded to the Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron technology, developed at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to treat contaminated groundwater. Image credit: NASA

United Space Alliance is now using a program developed through an SBIR contract with Kennedy -- the Toolkit for Enabling Adaptive Modeling and Simulation (TEAMS) -- for space shuttle ground processing to support operations analysis, planning and scheduling. The program provides operations modeling and analysis for space transportation systems. It was developed by Knowledge Based Systems Inc. in Texas.

Dr. Michael Graul, Dr. Perakath Benjamin, and Glenn Rhodeside. Image at Left: Dr. Perakath Benjamin (center), vice president of Knowledge Based Systems, Inc., recently visited Kennedy Space Center to demonstrate the Toolkit for Enabling Adaptic Modeling and Simulation. With him were Dr. Michael Graul (left) of KBSI, and Glenn Rhodeside, the NASA Kennedy contracting officer technical representative with the Constellation Project Office. Image credit: ASRC Aerospace Corp.

According to KBSI Vice President, Dr. Perakath Benjamin, the SBIR program has helped the company build and deploy advanced technology solutions that are benefiting NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense and private industry. "Working with NASA has been a rewarding and beneficial experience," Benjamin said.

Through an SBIR contract with KSC, the Sentel Corporation in Alexandria, Va., is commercializing NASA's Electronic Portable Information Collection system. The paperless work authorization procedure system has been through several refinements to handle the size and scope of a very large rocket system development. The system was used in an Atlas V launch in the spring of 2003.

Computer monitor. Image at Right: Knowledge Based Systems Inc. developed the Toolkit for Enabling Adaptive Modeling and Simulation (TEAMS). The program -- used for space shuttle ground processing to support operations analysis, planning and scheduling -- provides operations modeling and analysis for space transportation systems. Image credit: ASRC Aerospace Corp.

ASRC Aerospace Corp. provides support for Kennedy's Technology Transfer Office and the SBIR office.

According to Jennifer Van Pelt, an ASRC project administrator, both programs allow NASA to seek the innovations it is looking for and stimulates technology improvements in the private sector. "The programs are especially good for the economically disadvantaged businesses, such as minority or woman-owned," Van Pelt said.

The SBIR program's technical topics are aligned with Exploration Systems, Space Operations, Science and Aeronautics Research.

 
 
Linda Herridge
NASA's Kennedy Space Center