About USRA

USRA is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology.


Planets Aligned

USRA was founded in 1969, near the beginning of the Space Age, driven by the vision of two individuals, James Webb (NASA Administrator 1961-1968) and Frederick Seitz (National Academy of Sciences President 1962-1969). They recognized that the technical challenges of the exploration of space would require an ongoing and strong collaboration between NASA and the university research community. Together, they worked to create USRA to strengthen NASA’s knowledge base as new areas of space research and technology were developed, and also to make it easier for university faculty and students to work with NASA to achieve mission objectives.


Two people profile

Key to USRA's capabilities is the role of universities. In 2017, more than 488 universities were directly involved in USRA activities. The USRA business paradigm is to engage the creativity and authoritative expertise of university faculty and their students to support  government sponsors in these key areas:

  • Science
  • Technology Research and Development
  • Science Facility Management and Operations
  • Educational & Workforce Development

Universities are also a part of USRA's governance structure. 121 universities, all major research institutions, provide oversight solely as a public service. All USRA activities are conducted without bias or preference.