A two-day conference is being held in L.A. this week by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). They hope to court businesses that want to land contracts with the national space program.
Glenn Delgado heads NASA’s outreach to small businesses. He says talk of budget cuts at the agency shouldn’t discourage them.
"We’re finding very creative ways to keep our industrial base strong," says Delgado. "Because eventually we’re going to need them again once we get these large new programs up and running. I’m gonna need my small business space. I cannot let them disappear, so we’re doing lots of new creative ways to keep them in the fold."
Delgado said NASA paid more to small business last year than the year before, even as the agency lost more than a billion dollars of its budget.
NASA Chief of Staff David Radzanowski says that number is to the tune of $2.5 billion. He hopes small business owners will play an important role in building the next generation of space vehicles.
"[Our] intent is to carry American astronauts beyond low earth orbit into deep space within the next decade," says Radzanowki. "We haven’t been beyond low-Earth orbit since Apollo 17."