NASA looks for partners to promote new era

WASHINGTON: NASA is trying to raise awareness of and participation in US space and aeronautics activities through a range of new strategic partnerships.

WASHINGTON: NASA is trying to raise awareness of and participation in US space and aeronautics activities through a range of new strategic partnerships.

This is the second time since the early 2000s that NASA's communications office has released a collaborative solicitation to raise awareness about its work. No funds will be exchanged during the partnerships.

While not a traditional PR RFP, firms can still play a role in the process by helping to establish a relationship between NASA and clients, said Debbie Rivera, acting deputy associate administrator of NASA's  public outreach division.

“Firms can say to their client that the brand equity of NASA might be worth its financial investment,” she said. “Our brand recognition is the biggest asset partners get from working with NASA.”

The first time the department conducted a similar search in 2004, it resulted in high-profile partnerships with OfficeMax and World Book. As part of its relationship with NASA, World Book created encyclopedia entries about the organization's mission, which were then posted on its webpage with the World Book logo. OfficeMax, meanwhile, discounted the copying costs of teaching materials downloaded from the space agency's website.

“We haven't done [a partnership RFP] for a long time, and we would just love to create buzz again about what NASA does,” she said.

NASA is hoping the initiatives will communicate the next step for the US space and aeronautics agency since the end of the Space Shuttle era in 2011. Since then, NASA has focused on expanded and long-duration human spaceflight, it says in the solicitation.

However, NASA does not expect an increase in attention to lead to more funding from the federal government, Rivera said. The space agency has seen its government-funded financial resources decrease in recent years.

Any company or federal agency is eligible for a partnership as long as it doesn't request funding and is not banned from working with federal entities. Responses to the solicitation will be accepted over the next three years. NASA will begin to review proposals next month and thereafter on the first of each month.

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