Release Date: 5/6/2003


TITUSVILLE, Fla. (May 6, 2003) – In its first year, the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP), which makes available the expertise of the U.S. space program to small businesses, contributed an economic impact of $59 million to the national economy. SATOP’s assistance also saved or created 315 jobs nationwide.

The findings were reported in the program's recent economic impact study conducted by Zabik and Associates, utilizing data furnished by the Center for Research and Public Policy. The study covers the period of October 2001 through September 2002.

Designed to speed the transfer of space program technology to the private sector, SATOP provides free engineering assistance to small businesses with technical challenges through the donations of time and expertise from 34 Space Alliance Partners. SATOP centers are located in Titusville, Fla.; Houston, Texas; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Santa Fe, N.M.

Examples of the 194 small businesses that received assistance from SATOP during its first year include:

• Sunguard Shade Structures, Inc. in Sarasota, Fla., was in danger of having to scrap an entire product line until the company received help from SATOP. Sunguard, which manufactures shade structures used by such diverse entities as daycare centers and the U.S. military, had developed a new cantilever shading system called “Shadowing” for use at auto dealerships, parking lots, and around swimming pools.

The company was unable to create an attractive and functional mechanism to lock the cover fabric into place on the metal structure. Assistance provided through SATOP gave Sunguard a locking mechanism that did away with unsightly fasteners, provided for a seamless fit and made the shade easier to install.

The new design also can withstand 150-mph winds, as required by the state in certain locations. Sunguard president Kevin Connelly predicts that ShadoWing could double sales this year.

• Sentry Technology Corporation, a video surveillance company in Hauppauge, N.Y., was able to improve the design and reliability of its video surveillance systems with help from SATOP.

With input from a senior materials engineer at United Space Alliance at Kennedy Space Center, Sentry created a video camera that is faster and quieter and has better video quality.

• LaSys Inc., a small business founded to creative highly sensitive sensors using a unique composite material, is developing an ultra sensitive hand-held pathogen detector after receiving help from SATOP.

The Las Cruces, N.M. company needed to prove that the device would detect microbial organisms. SATOP provided assistance from Dr. Geoffrey Smith, a microbiologist and Biology Department associate professor at New Mexico State University. The results of Dr. Smith’s studies will be specifically adapted to LaSys’ optical detector technology.

• Mission Technologies, Inc., in San Antonio, Texas received assistance from SATOP to improve a compact reconnaissance and surveillance system so that it would meet U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) requirements.

Mission Technologies had developed the unmanned aerial vehicle system to be small enough to transport in a soldier’s backpack and sophisticated enough to transmit real-time reconnaissance, intelligence and surveillance data to field commanders and ground personnel.

With SATOP’s help, the company was able to reduce the weight and size of the launcher from 35 pounds to 10 pounds in order to meet the DOD’s requirements.

Thus far, Mission Technologies has delivered three of the systems that include the new launcher.

“The results of the economic impact study confirm what we know from working with small businesses on a daily basis – we are helping those companies succeed and grow and contribute to the American economy,” said Paul Secor, SATOP director.