NASA is going back to the moon and is looking for private companies to help get it there. In 2018, NASA awarded nine IDIQ Commercial Lunar Payload Service contracts for commercial payload delivery services between the Earth and the lunar surface. This is a sea-change for NASA as “no [United States] commercial company has ever attempted to launch, transit, and land” on the moon.
Prior to award, NASA asked for task order proposals to include a description of risks and mitigation efforts. You might be asking–how can NASA effectively evaluate risk for something that has not been done before? A protester asked the same question, but GAO agreed with NASA’s risk analysis on the project and found the protester’s questions to be mere disagreement with the evaluation.
Traditionally, small business set-asides are not utilized in Federal contracts performed outside the United States. The SBA allows for contracts performed outside the United States to use set-asides or sole-source awards, but the FAR does not reflect this. Recently, the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and NASA have proposed an update the FAR that would reflect the allowance of small business set-asides and sole-source awards in contracts performed outside of the United States.
The Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship recently held a hearing focusing on the role small businesses will play in NASA’s renewed focus on going back to the Moon and then on to Mars.
We have recently touched on the growing impact space exploration is having on small businesses, and vice versa, but this dedicated hearing prompts a closer look at the opportunities small businesses will have for working on space exploration.