NASA Small Business Forum

A two-day forum this week is a chance for companies to look at future business opportunities in space exploration. Houston Business Reporter Ed Mayberry tells us the American Institute of Aeronautics, NASA and the Boeing Company are helping firms learn how to do business with NASA and its prime contractors.

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With the recent "Vision for Space Exploration" announced by President Bush, a conference begins tomorrow here in Houston, bringing together the people, technologies and ideas to make that vision a reality. Boeing's Russ Carroll says there will also be discussion about NASA's small business initiatives.

"The overall NASA vision for space exploration, and how we--Boeing--and Lockheed Martin and the prime contractors are supporting that vision, and also part of that is the small business exhibits and workshop to provide opportunities on how small businesses can play a role in NASA's vision to return back to the moon."

And that will lead to opportunities for small businesses.

"And it's really a forum where it's transmit and recieve--NASA recently issued a contract to Lockheed Martin team, for their crew exploration vehicle, or what they call the Orion program, and we want the small businesses to know that there are opportunities, and provide a forum for them to provide their capabilities, and how they can help us in this pursuit."

The event includes NASA rover displays from the Mobility and Robotic Systems Group, as well as expert panels discussing lunar exploration strategy, robotic and human collaboration, launch systems and operations, science, opportunities for international participation and other topics. And academia is involved.

"Part of the NASA vision is to increase utilization of historically black colleges and universities and minority institutions and help these young kids coming out of college, get them excited much like they did in the Apollo program, to where they want to make a career in science and mathand come help us in this vision to return back to the moon. You know, in 1969 when the first humans landed on the moon, I was actually in eighth grade. And I would have never imagined that, you know, I'd be working on the space program like I am today and have been doing this in this particular job for about 12 years, and I can't imagine doing anything else. I mean, to watch the time when we first stepped on the moon in 1969 to the first shuttle flight in 1981, to the first space station launch in 1997 or 1998, and now seeing this next generation of programs and NASA continuing to push the envelope, you know it's just exciting. And I hope the kids today find the same excitement that we did when we all watched the television back when Walter Cronkite and everyone was covering the first moon mission."

The 2nd annual Space Exploration Conference Small Business Forum begins with an opening ceremony tomorrow at the George R. Brown Convention Center. Ed Mayberry, Houston Public Radio News.

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