National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Goddard Space Flight CenterGoddard Space Flight Center

Partnership Agreement Types and Guidelines

The Strategic Partnerships Office (SPO) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages Goddard’s intellectual property portfolio and oversees partnerships with entities outside of NASA, including industry, academia, and other government agencies. Through partnerships, Goddard can advance new technologies and projects of mutual interest. SPO uses different types of partnerships agreements to achieve the best results possible, and they are listed below.

Space Act Agreement (SAA)

The National Aeronautics and Space Act, which brought NASA into being, also granted NASA the authority to form Space Act Agreements (SAAs) with various partners. A full list of active NASA SAAs can be found online. Goddard’s SAAs have ranged in nature, from an agreement with Prince George’s County Public Schools to provide STEM enrichment activities for Maryland girls, to agreements with professional athletic organizations to facilitate technology transfer workshops for athletes.

Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA)

These agreements between federal labs and non-federal parties allow NASA to collaborate with entities outside of the space agency to reach specific research and development objectives. It is more common for Goddard to use Space Act Agreements than Cooperative Research and Development Agreements.

Patent/Copyright License

Patent licenses allow NASA to transfer its intellectual property for specific commercial uses. Read more about this on the licensing process page.

Software Usage Agreement

This agreement permits the release of NASA-developed software to interested parties. NASA’s extensive software catalog contains hundreds of software programs available for download. Organized by category, the catalog provides a searchable database of NASA software developed for space but potentially useful for other purposes. To initiate a software usage agreement, select the software of interest in the catalog and click the “Request Now” button.

Partnership Guidelines

The partnership application begins when the prospective partner submits information necessary to create the formal partnership agreement, including:

  • Title of project
  • Name of researcher(s), Goddard projects, and/or lab facilities desired in partnership
  • Name and address of the person, company, or organization
  • Citizenship, place of incorporation, and the name of the parent corporation (where applicable)
  • Description of the nature and type of applicant’s business
  • Statement as to whether the applicant is a small business, as defined in 37 CFR §404.3(c)
  • Description outlining why Goddard is an essential component of the partnership (unique facilities or capabilities, infusion into Goddard program, know-how for Goddard-based technology)
  • Description of benefit provided to Goddard as a result of the collaboration
  • Statement of work with milestones and resource requirements (including reimbursement offer, if applicable)

Once SPO reviews this information and considers it to match NASA interests, SPO will determine the appropriate type of agreement to pursue. SPO may request additional information, such as a development/marketing plan, documentation of cost-sharing valuation, or a more detailed work plan. To learn more, call (310) 286-5810 or email