JPL is a not for profit, federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) operated by Caltech for NASA under a prime contract. JPL's primary mission is focused on the development and operation of robotic spacecraft to explore the Earth, our Solar System, and the Universe. It also conducts a wide range of sustaining technology and scientific research to advance the capabilities of future space missions. JPL is allowed to accept work from non-NASA government and non-government sources and apply these to non-NASA endeavors if it is unique and represents engineering, science, or technology research capability not available from the commercial for-profit sector.
All work that NASA agrees to accept from non-NASA sponsors is on a reimbursable basis performed under its Prime Contract with Caltech. The work must be within the scope of work and terms and conditions, as determined by the NASA Contracting Officer.
From a commercial perspective, working with JPL allows a company access to technologies and state of the art facilities and laboratories that they may not find elsewhere. Further, often the original inventor(s) are available to adapt it to a new setting, or further its development in a direction of interest to a specific commercial interest. Just a few examples of truly unique JPL Space Simulator facilities include micro devices laboratory (see pic) where new state of the art sensors and instruments are fabricated, access to some of the world's largest supercomputers , and the interplanetary network of ground stations for deep space communications, navigation, and radar imaging.
Yet another advantage of working with JPL is access to a team of more than 5000 scientists, engineers, and technologists across a wide variety of disciplines that can be tapped in various capacities as a project develops. Furthermore, JPL as an operating division of Caltech, maintains strong ties with faculty and their research, providing an even deeper bench of talent that can be engaged.
In short, doing business with JPL provides access to world class people and facilities that are unequalled in a number of fields.
For further questions about partnering with or sponsoring work at JPL, please contact one of the program manager representatives on the home page that most closely matches your business classification.