NASA Sources Sought Notice: Deep Space Laser Communications

Status Report From: Goddard Space Flight Center
Posted: Saturday, October 9, 2004


General Information

Document Type: Sources Sought Notice
Solicitation Number: DSLC-007
Posted Date: Oct 01, 2004
Original Response Date: Nov 26, 2004
Current Response Date: Nov 26, 2004
Original Archive Date: Oct 01, 2005
Current Archive Date: Oct 01, 2005
Classification Code: A -- Research & Development

Contracting Office Address NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 210.M, Greenbelt, MD 20771


NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center is hereby soliciting information from potential sources in regard to Deep Space Laser Communications.

NASA GSFC has recently initiated a Deep Space Laser Communication Earth Terminal Study under the sponsorship of the NASA Mission Offices for Space Operations (Code M) and Science (Code S).

This is intended to be a brief 6-month study addressing the following goals:

1.   To outline the designs for above-the-atmosphere earth terminals for implementing a deep space laser communications capability.

2.   To evaluate the platform options for a deep space laser communications capability, including airship, aircraft, independent satellites, or hosting by other NASA assets (ISS, TDRS, etc.).

3.   To determine whether a demonstration mission would be worthwhile, and if so, to identify the principal risks to be retired by such a mission. Current plans call for the Mars Laser Communication Demonstration terminal to be launched in 2009, as part of the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter mission.

This would provide the first operational remote terminal for testing (from Mars).

It is desirable that any demonstration mission be compatible with the MLCD schedule.

Additional information on MLCD can be obtained by contacting the technical points of contact listed below, or by following these links:

As a part of the study, NASA is currently seeking information for technology planning, risk assessment, and cost estimation for potential ?above the atmosphere? Earth terminals for laser communication. Specific areas where information is requested are:

1.   Communication packages, including beacon/uplink capabilities (MLCD compatibility will likely be required, although alternative approaches are of interest as well.)

2.   Telescope configurations (effective area equivalent to 2-3 meter class required.) 3.   Pointing, acquisition, tracking, and control strategies.

4.   Baffling, filtering, and other techniques to enable telescope operation within 3 degrees of the Sun.

5.   Platform vibration isolation technologies for meeting stringent stability requirements for the optical platform.

6.   Integration of telescope and platform; overall configuration.

7.   Operational architecture. The exact configuration of the operational nodes will depend on the detailed design considered (e.g., stratosphere or space).

However, a key aspect of the study is establishing whether a risk mitigation mission is required before implementation.

Thus, the technology readiness level of all referenced subsystems should be elaborated upon. If a demonstration mission is deemed desirable, its launch date can be assumed to be commensurate with the MLCD schedule. Inputs from industry are requested by November 26, 2004, or earlier. Information received after that date will also be useful, but with potentially less impact. Companies interested in describing their technology or any other relevant information to NASA are encouraged to supply documentation in a format of their choosing. General Reference: The following website includes a full description of the Vision for Space Exploration being implemented by NASA.

Technical points of contact:   Jon Walker NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Code 451 Greenbelt, MD 20771 Phone:   301-286-7795 Rud Moe NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Code 42 Greenbelt, MD 20771 Phone:   301-286-2180 Submit responses to Jon Walker and Rud Moe at the address above and to Klaus D. Sexton at the address cited at the bottom of this announcement.

Electronic submission is encouraged. No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation is released it will be synopsized in FedBizOpps and on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service.

It is the potential offeror's responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of any solicitation or synopsis. This synopsis is for information and planning purposes and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government nor will the Government pay for information solicited.

Respondents will not be notified of the results of the evaluation.

Respondents deemed fully qualified will be considered in any resultant solicitation for the requirement.  

Any referenced notes may be viewed at the following URLs linked below.

Point of Contact

Klaus D Sexton, Contracting Officer, Phone (301) 286-2271, Fax (301) 286-6299, Email

Email your questions to Klaus D Sexton at

Additional Information

// end //

More status reports and news releases or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.