CIS Industry Engagement Work Flow Credit: NASA
CIS, ESC, NSN, commercialization 

New Commercialization Office Seeks Collaboration with Industry Providers

By Katherine Schauer

February 23, 2021

NASA is embracing commercialization, working with U.S. industry to create a robust space communications marketplace. Companies interested in joining NASA as a service provider now have the opportunity to receive support through the Commercialization, Innovation, and Synergies (CIS) office’s suite of industry engagement opportunities.

In October 2020, NASA’s Exploration and Space Communications (ESC) projects division reorganized its portfolio to support the agency’s commercialization efforts. ESC established two new projects and an office that comprise the Near Space Network enterprise, which seeks to partners with industry, academia, and other government and international agencies.

The Near Space Network project uses a blend of government and commercial providers to support missions with from Earth’s surface out to 2 million miles away. They provide mission planning, integration, spectrum management, communications scheduling, and critical launch and on-orbit operations support. The network leverages existing government systems, like NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) fleet, alongside commercial providers to give missions comprehensive services.

To grow the commercial service provider base for the Near Space Network, ESC established CIS. The office is fostering partnerships by hosting a series of engagement events that connect experts from industry and government to create a community of providers offering dependable communications, navigation, and data acquisition services.

The series of industry engagement events creates a natural flow for companies to learn more about working with NASA and becoming a provider. The first of these events is a OneLink Session on March 4, 2021. OneLink will provide companies with a detailed understanding of the role of CIS, the Near Space Network’s current and future needs, industry standards, and a timeline for future industry engagement activities.

This OneLink Session is the gate to participating in future CIS industry events, as companies that attend the OneLink Session will be invited to connect with NASA in deeper, one-on-one UpLink Sessions the following week. These more personal meetings will give companies the opportunity to share their own capabilities and needs with NASA communications and navigation experts.

After the UpLink Sessions, CIS will direct companies down one of two paths. The next step for mature companies with capabilities ready for infusion into the Near Space Network is a Building Engagement Across Mission (BEAM) Session. There, they will connect with key NASA or other government agency stakeholders. For companies still maturing their capabilities, Amplifier Sessions will indicate the steps needed to become a future Near Space Network provider.

“The office as a whole is excited to start these engagement events and learn about the market’s capabilities,” said LaNetra Tate, Chief of the CIS office. “Since the office was established in October of 2020, the team has been diligently working over the last few months to find the most productive and efficient way to create and sustain partnerships with industry. We think these engagement events will do just that.”

Following the BEAM and Amplifier sessions, the office is also hosting an Ignite the Flight event, a pitch competition designed to search for and identify innovators developing commercial space communications and navigation technologies or unconventional capabilities. Additionally, they will conduct capability study solicitations twice a year to identify technology needs for the Near Space Network. More information about these events will be published soon.

The CIS office will be hosting these events multiple times a year. These events are shared opportunities for government and industry to begin crafting a vibrant space communications marketplace that provides creative, cost-effective solutions.