Friday, September 14, 2012

Small Businesses Land on Mars

As anyone with a computer, radio or television has undoubtedly heard, mankind hit a historic milestone with the successful landing of the Curiosity Mars Rover on Mars. This rover is the most advanced piece of technology ever sent to the Red Planet and will provide high levels of data that were impossible to gain before. While NASA takes pride in this triumph, it is obvious that we didn’t do it alone – our small business partners played a crucial role in this great accomplishment.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft launched nearly a year ago to begin its journey to Mars. After an impressive display of computer guidance and “Seven Minutes of Terror,” the Curiosity Mars Rover landed safely on the Martian surface. Color images have already started arriving from the vehicle and it’s only a matter of time before more detailed information from its impressive array of technologies, including a rock-pummeling laser, starts arriving here on Earth.

The NASA Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) wants to extend well-deserved congratulations to the small businesses helped make this amazing feat a reality. Terraza Design Group, a HUBZone small business based out of Long Beach, CA, contributed mechanical ground support equipment to the project. Curiosity’s robotic arm surface dust removal tool was designed and implemented by small business Honeybee Robotics. Mailin Space Science Systems developed the MSL decent imager and mast camera. ATA Engineering, a San Diego, CA Small Woman-owned small business, provided advanced structural analysis and other services.

Santa Barbara Applied Research Company (SBAR) has been an integral part of the MSL and Curiosity mission. They have been involved in everything from IT support to rocket fabrication. They provided such integral and high quality work that the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) recognized them as the Small Business Subcontractor of the Year. Pacific Design Technologies, Inc., another small business, provided invaluable cooling systems to Curiosity to survive the extreme temperature swings of the Mars atmosphere.

These companies prove that small businesses can make a difference not only to NASA, but also to the country and the world. NASA OSBP is here to help facilitate these advancements by assisting in the development of beneficial relationships between small businesses and our acquisition teams through programs like the Mentor-Protégé Program and our many outreach events. For more information about doing business with NASA, please visit the NASA OSBP website at Together, we can continue to work to make the NASA mission a reality.

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