WASHINGTON – Today small business owners told a key Congressional subcommittee that their companies and others like them play a vital role in meeting the needs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).Witnesses and lawmakers also discussed ways to strengthen and improve the critical partnership between small companies and NASA as the agency prepares to celebrate its 58th anniversary later this month.
“Designing next generation spacecraft takes time and in recent years, thankfully, there has been bipartisan consensus on the path forward for human exploration of deep space,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), the Chairman of the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade which convened today’s hearing. “With a new Administration taking office in January, we must build upon that commitment and provide the certainty the industry needs to continue growing, innovating, and building our economy to ensure our nation continues its preeminence in human space flight.”
SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER
“One thing is clear: We must not allow the uncertainties of the past to prevail again. We must advance – and accelerate – into the next administration,” said Chris Carberry, the Co-Founder of Explore Mars, Inc.“There is strong bi-partisan support for the goal of sending humans to Mars, and there is clear excitement about that goal from the general public. We must harness that strong consensus.”
“We are approaching another major hurdle, and that is the uncertainty that traditionally accompanies a change in Administrations. Will we once again shift directions and throw our space program – and the small business community upon which its success depends - into turmoil, or will we fully embrace our current policy of sending humans to Mars? We have come so far in recent years, and it benefits no one if we radically change course again,” added Carberry.
“I am today – at a crossroads of how to keep the manufacturing side afloat while waiting for delayed payments, extended NASA contract decisions and lack of access to working capital because of stringent banking regulations imposed by the Federal Government. I’ve effectively robbed Peter to grow Paul,” explained Carol Craig, President and CEO of Craig Technologies, a small business based in Cape Canaveral, FL. “I did so because it was the right thing to do – for our business, for our employees and for our community. I believe in our free market system and always strive to offer the very best product and/or service for the price agreed upon. Unfortunately, the cards remain stacked against a small business entrepreneur - even one who overcomes the odds and makes it to the next level.”
“Creating valuable employment opportunities in my community remains my number one goal and priority. But money has to come in the front door on a logical and planned timeline in order to properly budget and ensure the books remain solvent,” added Craig.
NASA OVER THE MOON FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
“I want to emphasize that for small businesses, NASA remains one of the Federal government’s most supportive organizations, testified Stephen Gorevan of Honeybee Robotics, Ltd, a small business based in Brooklyn, NY. “I believe NASA understands the ways in which the small business community can help it succeed with its mission, and it takes seriously its mandate to provide opportunities for small businesses such as Honeybee Robotics to thrive. We are excited for what the future holds and, along with our small business colleagues, look forward to the exciting and important missions ahead.”
CREATING JOBS, SPURRING INNOVATION
“Another challenge Small Businesses face in supporting NASA is the long-term stability of the SBIR-STTRprogram,” added George Davis, Ph.D, the president and founder of Emergent Space Technologies, noting that the program is budget-neutral. “Many U.S. Small Businesses rely on the SBIR-STTRprogram for seed funding in developing a unique product. Others, like Emergent, rely on it to perform strategic R&D for NASA, Air Force and DARPA. Ultimately this funding translates into jobs, both now and in the future.”
“As Albert Einstein once said, 'if we knew what we were doing, we would not call it research.' Congress can help Small Businesses by continuing its strong support of the SBIR-STTR program, especially when it comes to reauthorization in FY2020. Any delay or disruption in this vital program could result in the loss of thousands of job across the country,” concluded Davis.