NASA is now investing in small business 50 years after the legendary Apollo mission that landed on the moon.
The 50-year anniversary of Neil Armstrong taking one giant leap for mankind has reignited moon fever. Paen’s to humanity’s greatest achievement of exploration and technology have been everywhere you look for the past month.
But now, NASA is taking an interest closer to home and investing in small business right here on earth.
When America stopped investing in small business
Back in 1965, NASA poured cash into small businesses as they raced to the moon. A small company named ILC DOVER, for example, was tapped to make the iconic spacesuit.
That firm is still making astronaut outerwear today.
Since the 1960s, however, research spending has plummeted and so have advanced manufacturing jobs.
Blame globalization. Blame NAFTA. But it’s also a matter of prioritization.
Experts say that in the past several decades US businesses have gone away from traditional development. America has become all about quarterly gains rather than long term innovation.
The risk-averse has cut down spending on research and development.
This trend has imperiled America’s lead in technology, innovation, and exploration.
And don’t forget, we haven’t been back to the moon since 1972.
NASA steps up to invest in small business
NASA has just announced a $45 million program as part of its Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program.
Companies that produce things like 3D printers, ultra-precise mirrors, and drones, have already been beneficiaries.
These companies are manufacturing goods for use in space. But the larger point is that problem solving for issues like zero gravity creates technological advancements that benefit us right here on earth.
Everything from your memory foam bed to baby formula came from the immense challenges of space travel.
Experts say there’s no real accounting for what incredible advancements could come out of renewed efforts to land a man on another world like Mars.
How to fix small business investing
In response to renewed interest in space, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is calling for reauthorizing the Small Business Act which would increase funding for public-private tech partnerships.
Now don’t forget NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is located in Rubio’s home state of Florida. Many small businesses that would benefit from increased spending on space exploration are his donors and constituents.
But Rubio argues the legislation would immediately ramp up much-needed federal funding for research and development available to small businesses. It would spur the kind of innovation we desperately need to be a world leader in the 21st century.
This kind of planning would benefit the American economy as a whole and could eventually touch the lives of every human on earth.
And, he says, it would come at no cost to taxpayers because it’s simply appropriating funding, not additional spending.
Rubio concludes his call for investment in space and American innovation with this inspiring call to action.
“At home and in the stars, our nation’s economic destiny is driven by ingenuity in the production of real assets — polymer fabrics, heat shields, and extrasolar mirrors. The next American to step foot on lunar soil — or Mars, or even beyond — will do so thanks to our small businesses and the raft of technologies they have designed, invested in, and assembled on the nation’s behalf.”