Stanford University

Startups Attempt to Woo NASA in Search of ‘Big Break'

Ten startups were given five minutes Thursday to pitch their products to some of the biggest names in space exploration.

NASA is searching for the latest and greatest technology for future missions.

Certain companies, offering software and even a cleaning product, were hand-picked to present at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field in anticipation of NASA's next mission to Mars in 2020. Thursday's event, organized by Starburst Accelerator, was part of the "Road to GES" — the ongoing Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University, according to NASA. 

Mo Kreitenberg, who hopes the Germfalcon, as it is called, will soon be used on every airplane and space craft, hoped Thursday "could be the big break."

The CEO says his robot is equipped with ultraviolet light that kills germs, virus, fungus and super bugs.

"It can disinfect an entire airplane — seats, armrest, tray tables — in under 10 minutes," Kreitenberg said.

Among the many things pitched to investors and NASA engineers were safer, lighter and more durable materials built to withstand conditions in outer space.

Others like Ursa Space Systems claim its radar technology can clearly capture ground images even on a cloudy day — helpful in space and on earth.

Adam Maher, the company's founder and president, said, in the case of an earthquake, such technology would help officials hone in on the damage and "assess where to put first-responders."

NASA Ames' Director Eugene Tu didn’t pick any favorites, but said he’s closely watching 3-D printing technology and on the lookout for a company that can help build a more efficient and safer spacecraft.

Tu said he is searching for "light-weight material," "materials that can handle heat loads" ... and "multi-functional materials."

NASA described Thursday's event as a "matchmaking" activity because it paired investors with new products. If the event proves to be a success, the organization hopes to host similar events in the future.

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