NASA needs some help to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what it does and learns will benefit all humankind. NASA officials held a networking event Wednesday in New Orleans for small business owners who are interested in doing business with the federal space agency or its major contractors.
The daylong event, held in conjunction with the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce at the Michoud Assembly Facility in eastern New Orleans, drew a crowd of more than 100 people. The forum’s schedule included a series of panel discussions with NASA representatives from throughout the Gulf Coast, including the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama and Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
NASA contractors, including defense giant Lockheed Martin and SAIC, a giant engineering company, were also on hand to field questions from businesses and discuss opportunities to work together.
Michoud’s director, Bobby Watkins, said NASA relies on small businesses to handle a variety of needs, from maintaining equipment to fixing leaky roofs or filling potholes at Michoud’s 832-acre facility.
“We get things like potholes — believe it or not — we get those quite a bit, or culverts that need to be repaired, so those are areas that particularly small businesses could serve a great need,” Watkins said.
Workers at Michoud are building the Orion crew spacecraft and the core stage for the Space Launch System, a new mega-rocket that’s designed to transport astronauts into deep space, a goal of President Barack Obama’s administration.
Forums like the one held Wednesday help both sides, Watkins said, noting that his job is to “make sure that we have the best support for this facility.”