NASA Request For Information: Scientist Participant Suborbital Science Pilot Program - SERVICE PROVIDERS - Science Mission Directorate

Status Report From: NASA Science Mission Directorate
Posted: Friday, February 29, 2008


Synopsis - Feb 28, 2008

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNH08ZDA003L
Posted Date: Feb 28, 2008
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Feb 28, 2008
Original Response Date: Mar 28, 2008
Current Response Date: Mar 28, 2008
Classification Code: A -- Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712 - Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)

Related RFI: NASA Request For Information: Scientist Participant Suborbital Science Pilot Program - FLIGHT RESEARCH - Science Mission Directorate

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Headquarters Acquisition Branch, Code 210.H, Greenbelt, MD 20771


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recognizes the advancement of the commercial suborbital spaceflight industry and seeks to leverage this private investment through a potential procurement of human suborbital spaceflight services. NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is in the formulation phase of a new program to fly government-sponsored payloads and researchers on commercial suborbital systems with the intent of advancing SMD's goals and objectives.

In this RFI, SMD is requesting technical and programmatic input that will be valuable to NASA to (i) evaluate procuring flight services and (ii) aid potential science investigators in scoping and designing possible future suborbital investigations. Comments to this RFI are welcome from all stakeholders but primarily from potential providers of suborbital spaceflight services. Suborbital space flight service providers should anticipate flight experiments that address any of the SMD's research disciplines (Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, and Planetary Science). For these human-tended experiments, it is expected that NASA's on-board researchers may require services such as power, data handling, mounting surfaces, viewing portals, day/night flight opportunities, and flight operations at remote field locations. NASA is interested in opportunities for externally-mounted experiments as well.

With input from responses to this RFI, SMD intends to consider a NASA Research Announcement to solicit proposals from the science and research communities for human-tended experiments that support NASA's science goals. For an overview of SMD research focus areas, refer to The Science Plan for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (2007-2016), available at . In response to this RFI and future program procurement actions, collaboration between the service provider and the research community is encouraged.

It is NASA's current intent to evaluate a formal solicitation for suborbital spaceflight services in early 2009, which would lead to a pilot program of suborbital flight operations in 2010-2011. The Agency is open to suggestions in this RFI on how best to competitively procure these services while fostering continued private capital investment in this emerging market.

If so requested in your response, all information received from this RFI will be considered confidential and proprietary, however NASA will use your response to aid the drafting of an open solicitation for research investigations under NNH08ZDA001N, the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) 2008 NASA Research Announcement.

It is not NASA's intent to publicly disclose vendor proprietary information obtained during this RFI. To the full extent that it is protected pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act and other laws and regulations, information identified by a respondent as "Proprietary or Confidential" will be kept confidential. It is emphasized that this RFI is for planning and information purposes only and is NOT to be construed as a commitment by the Government to enter into a contractual agreement, nor will the Government pay for information solicited.

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

Requested Information:

NASA seeks both programmatic and technical information from the personal spaceflight community to support SMD's formulation of a possible Human-In-The-Loop Suborbital Science (HILSS) pilot program. The information that NASA is seeking includes:


  • * Approximate date of suborbital spaceflight service availability
  • * Development and flight testing timeline
  • * Comments on any and all regulatory, airworthiness, or liability constraints in the development and operation of this service for use by NASA and NASA-sponsored researchers
  • * Approximate cost to the government per seat and per flight
  • * Government/private partnering needs and/or opportunities
  • Technical:
  • * General flight profile information o Launch/landing sites, trajectory description, flight environments (e.g., accelerations, vibrations), microgravity levels and exposure time, launch windows, potential flight rates, day/night launch constraints for flights in the 2010-2011 timeframe.
  • * System information o Mass/volume availabilities/constraints for PI and experiments
    o Power, communications, data storage capabilities/constraints
    o Internal experiment mounting capabilities/constraints
    o Potential for externally-mounted experiments
    o Vehicle pointing capabilities and precision
    o Earth/space viewing capabilities/constraints
  • * Potential for window-mounted experiments
  • * Window material characteristics (e.g., spectral transmission properties from the mid-IR through the UV)
    o Expected cabin working environment
  • * Internal pressure, temperature ranges, lighting.
  • * Pressure suit (if any) concept and associated constraints
  • * In-flight seating configuration and restraints * Operational o Preferred concept of operations for science flights
  • * Integration of science passengers/flights with other spaceflight participants/commercial flights (as applicable)
  • * Expected timeline for investigator request-for-flight through to completion-of-flight
  • * PI and experiment integration plan
  • * Pre-flight training and testing
  • * Other information that may be pertinent to NASA and the community of potential researchers.


All responses submitted in response to this RFI must be submitted in electronic form via NSPIRES, the NASA online announcement data management system, located at . For this RFI, a response submission will take the form of a Notice of Intent (NOI) within the NSPIRES online announcement data management system. The RFI response itself will be a PDF-formatted document that is attached (uploaded) to the NSPIRES system.

You must be registered with NSPIRES to submit a RFI response. See registration instructions at (select "Getting an account"). Neither institution registration nor an institution affiliation is required to respond to this RFI.

1. Log in to your account at: . 2. Select "Proposals" from your account page 3. Select "Create NOI" from your proposals page. 4. Click "Continue" on the next page 5. Select "Request for Information: NNH08ZDA003L (Scientist Participant Suborbital Science Pilot Program - Service Providers)" from the bullet list of announcements. Click "Continue". 6. Enter RFI response title ("NOI title" field will be shown). 7. Select "do not link at this time" for submitting organization page 8. Click "Save" on next page. 9. It is not necessary to complete any of the "NOI Details"; all requested information should be included in the attached PDF document. Information which is entered into "NOI Details" but not included in the attached PDF document will not be considered. 10. Prepare your RFI response offline and save as a PDF document (note NSPIRES instructions on .pdf formats). The response document must include the respondent's Name, institution, and e-mail address so the file is self-contained. File names format should be "PI Last Name - First Name - RFI". The response should not exceed ten pages in length. 11. To attach (upload) your PDF document: a. Click "add" under NOI attachments section b. Select "Proposal Document" from the drop down list; c. Browse to attach your PDF file; d. Select "Upload"; e. Click "OK" f. Your RFI document has been uploaded to NSPIRES 12. Click Submit NOI button

Please note: You may delete and replace form fields and uploaded documents anytime before the response deadline of March 28, 2008.

For further information on the Scientist Participant Suborbital Science pilot program, please contact Dr. Daniel D. Durda, Science Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, DC 20546; email at For further information on NASA's Science programs and programmatic matters, please contact Dr. Paul Hertz, Science Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, DC 20546; email at

Point of Contact

Name: Dr. Daniel D Durda
Title: Special Assistant
Phone: 202-358-3756
Fax: 202-358-3094

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