Winter 2021 Newsletter

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Volume 15, Number 1 | Winter 2021


Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Program

In This Issue

Hello, Innovators • Thank you, Jenn Gustetic! • Key Program Milestones • I-Corps • RFI • Customer Experience Survey • Phase II-E • Other Opportunities • NASA Spinoff • Events • Success Stories

Hello, Innovators

Gynelle Steele Image

Happy New Year! We started the year with the closing of our 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitation on January 8. This year we received more than 1700 proposal submissions for SBIR and STTR combined. We commend all of you for your continued pursuit of innovation during these difficult times. Small businesses are important partners for NASA and we hope the accelerated schedule of our 2021 Phase I solicitation and selection will help empower technological innovation that contributes to NASA’s missions, provides societal benefit, and grows the U.S. economy.

If you submitted a Phase I proposal, you should expect to hear from us in mid-March, when selections are scheduled to be announced. In addition, everyone who submitted (or even just started) a 2021 Phase I proposal will receive a request to respond to our Request for Information (RFI), which asks for feedback on the solicitation (including the technical content) and how it enabled you to develop your proposal. Your feedback will help us shape the future solicitations, so I encourage you to respond.

Later this month, we will launch a broader Customer Experience Survey for past, current, and prospective program participants to share their experiences engaging with the program overall. Please keep an eye out—we’re excited to hear from you!

Wishing you all a healthy and hopeful 2021,

– Gynelle Steele, Acting NASA SBIR/STTR Program Executive

Thank you, Jenn Gustetic!

At the end of 2020, we congratulated Jenn Gustetic, who served as the Program Executive for the NASA SBIR/STTR program since 2016, on her new role as NASA’s Director of Early Stage Innovations and Partnerships. In this role she leads a portfolio of technology programs that engages diverse sources and creativity and innovation across the country, awarding more than $300M in funding annually through prize competitions, SBIR/STTR, research grants, internal innovation team projects, advanced concepts studies, and technology transfer.

Under Jenn’s leadership, the NASA SBIR/STTR program increased outreach, streamlined proposal review processes, and opened up new funding opportunities to help reduce the barriers for small businesses to partner with NASA and increase the impact of these partnerships. In fact, our annual event for small businesses is a legacy that Jenn initiated when she first joined the program in 2016. Please join us in congratulating Jenn and in thanking her for the hard work and dedication to our program.

Key Program Milestones

  • 2021 SBIR Sequential Phase II Solicitation: January 8 – February 25, 2021 (by invitation)
  • 2020 SBIR Phase II Solicitation: January 18 – March 1, 2021
  • 2021 SBIR/STTR CCRPP Award Announcement: scheduled for March 12, 2021
  • 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase I Award Announcement: scheduled for March 18, 2021
  • 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase I I-Corps Open Period: March 22 – April 5, 2021

*Dates are scheduled but are subject to revision

Prepare Early for I-Corps

If you submitted a proposal for the 2021 SBIR/STTR Phase I solicitation, you may be eligible to participate in the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) training program. I-Corps provides additional funding on top of the Phase I award to help small businesses accelerate their SBIR/STTR technologies from the laboratory to the marketplace. Learn more:

NASA I-Corps funding opportunity:

I-Corps Boot Camp Program for SBIR

National I-Corps Program for STTR


Up to $10,000


Up to $25,000

Open period for I-Corps: March 22 – April 5.

For more resources on I-Corps—including testimonial from a past recipient and a webinar hosted with NSF—visit our Resource Library under “Making the most of your Phase I experience:”


The NASA SBIR/STTR Request for Information (RFI) will be open from January 25 through February 15, 2021, to those who started or completed a proposal submission in the 2021 Phase I solicitation. This year’s RFI includes additional questions on the overall solicitation experience, not just the research subtopics. Your feedback helps us shape future solicitations.

Please look out for an email to respond to the RFI from later this month.

NASA SBIR/STTR Program Customer Experience Survey

At the end of January, the NASA SBIR/STTR program Customer Experience Survey will be sent to past, current, and prospective program participants. Through this survey, the program seeks to better understand participants’ experiences and engagement through all phases of the program. Respondents will only be asked to answer questions that are relevant to their actual program participation. Please keep an eye out for this survey, which is separate from the RFI mentioned above.

SBIR/STTR Phase II-E Option Eligible Window

The deadline to submit a Phase II-E proposal to be considered for the next award selection meeting is March 10, 2021. The eligibility window for SBIR/STTR Phase II-E proposal submission starts after the 12th month of performance and ends 60 days before the Phase II contract end date.

Learn more about Phase II-E proposal instructions for preparation and submission at

Other Opportunities

NASA Public Prize Competitions: NASA Centennial Challenges

NASA Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. In alignment with NASA’s focus to return to the Moon and on to Mars, the following three public prize competitions are open for registration:

  • Watts on the Moon Phase 1: Deadline for Registration and Submission is March 25, 2021. NASA is seeking to work with innovators across disciplines to find solutions that address a variety of needs on the lunar surface and will be exploring options to transport potential solutions to the Moon for testing, demonstration, and operation in the coming years. Read more and register to participate:
  • Break the Ice Lunar Challenge Phase 1: Deadline for Registration and Submission is June 18, 2021. The Break the Ice Lunar Challenge seeks to incentivize innovative approaches for excavating icy regolith and delivering water in extreme lunar environmental conditions. Specifically, the Challenge seeks solutions for maximizing water delivery while minimizing energy use and the mass of equipment required to be transported to the lunar surface. Read more and register to participate:
  • Deep Space Food Challenge Phase 1: Registration deadline is May 28, 2021; Submission deadline is July 30, 2021. The NASA Centennial Challenges program in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has released Phase 1 of the Deep Space Food Challenge. This challenge seeks to create novel food production technologies or systems that require minimal inputs and maximize safe, nutritious, and palatable food outputs for long-duration space missions, and which have a potential to benefit people on Earth. Read more and register to participate:

NASA Flight Opportunities

NASA’s Flight Opportunities program is interested in participating as a Post-Phase II investor, specifically for the use of suborbital flight testing to help advance development or commercialization of technologies. Upcoming opportunities to take advantage of Flight Opportunities matching funds include Phase II-E proposals and the next round of CCRPP applications.

Learn more:

NASA Spinoff 2021 Features SBIR and STTR Technologies

NASA Spinoff recently released the 2021 edition of its annual magazine, which highlights NASA technologies that benefit life on Earth in the form of commercial products. This year’s edition includes ten examples with roots in the NASA SBIR/STTR program! Read the full digital magazine:


We are currently planning our 2021 events schedule—keep an eye out on our events page for updates.

National Entrepreneurship Week: February 13-20, 2021

The NASA SBIR/STTR program will present during the Federal Entrepreneurship Day on February 17 as part of the congressionally-chartered National Entrepreneurship Week. RSVP for free:

Success Stories

Read about news and successes from some of our SBIR/STTR firms. If you are an SBIR/STTR firm with a success story to share, email us at


TRACLabs’ PRIDE software was the first collaborative and highly-customizable tool designed to allow astronauts to document and mark progress on procedures in real-time, display system data, and issue commands—all from a single application. The versatility of the software caught the eye of a major oil field service company, who bought licenses and support from TRACLabs for $3.3M.


Parabilis Space Technologies developed a hybrid upper stage that combines the benefits of traditional liquid and solid propulsion systems while reducing risk and cost. Parabilis received additional funding from NASA and the U.S. Air Force to develop this technology beyond the Phase I and II STTR accomplishments.


Astrobotic has received more than $270M in NASA awards for Moon to Mars initiatives. The technology that will support those initiatives was developed in part with multiple awards from the NASA SBIR/STTR program.


Check out more of our success stories at

Thank You for Reading!

If you have questions about the NASA SBIR/STTR Program, learn more at

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