NASA says small Las Vegas contractor the best

Las Vegas-based Arcata Associates has been selected NASA’s 2011 Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year.

It’s the second time in four years that Arcata, a 32-year-old engineering services and information technology firm, has won the award.

The company, whose first contract was to provide technical support to Nellis Air Force Base, received the award for its work with NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Tim Wong, president of Arcata, said performance, responsiveness, cooperation and innovation were the criteria for the award, given to the best small contractor from among 12 NASA Centers Laboratories and Offices around the country.

“People are surprised when they learn that our small, family owned company has risen to become a top NASA contractor, but this has always been our goal,” Wong said.

With 400 employees, Arcata isn’t small by some standards, but many NASA contractors have thousands of workers, Wong said.

Arcata employees worked with Dryden on engineering, operations and maintenance IT and multi-media support of the research center’s test range. The company also is involved in NASA’s blended wing body aircraft, a remotely piloted plane designed to demonstrate the viability of a new wing shape.

The company also provides its expertise on the next-generation space shuttle replacement, Orion, developing a launch abort system for the multipurpose crew vehicle.