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

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


Synopsis - Feb 28, 2008

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNH08ZDA004L
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 - SERVICE PROVIDERS - 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 requests information on potential human-tended flight experiments enabled by this capability. NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is in the formulation phase of a possible new program to fly government-sponsored payloads and researchers on commercial suborbital systems with the intent of advancing SMD's goals and objectives. Responses to this RFI will be used to inform NASA's program planning.


Suborbital missions have provided an important arena for astronomical, terrestrial, and other areas of space research for over 60 years. They offer the opportunity to make astronomical and Earth observations at wavelengths and special observing geometries not accessible from the ground; they also offer the opportunity to study microgravity and other observations related to the fundamental physics of the space and Earth sciences. Routine accomplishments range, for example, from in-situ sampling of atmospheric regions that neither spacecraft nor aircraft can reach, to examining physical phenomena (e.g., relevant to planetary accretion) in microgravity conditions that are not attainable on the ground or available for such long periods in zero-g aircraft, to testing science instruments before committing to orbital or interplanetary flight.

The emergence of human suborbital flight for commercial purposes now offers a natural and timely opportunity to open a new research venue to the scientific community.

In this RFI, NASA is soliciting ideas and comments from the science and research communities on potential human-tended suborbital investigations that support NASA's science goals. With input from responses to this RFI, NASA intends to (i) consider acquiring commercial suborbital seats and flights for NASA-funded researchers to conduct human-tended suborbital investigations and (ii) consider a NASA Research Announcement (e.g., via an amendment to Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES) 2008) to solicit proposals for human-tended suborbital investigations that address any of SMD's research disciplines (Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, and Planetary Science). For an overview of SMD research focus areas, refer to The Science Plan for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (2007-2016), available at .

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.

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 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:

The response to this RFI will be in the form of a PDF document that is uploaded through NASA's NSPIRES system (see instructions below). The response should not exceed three pages in length.

The response should contain the following information:

  • Name of submitter and contact information (institutional affiliation, email address);
  • SMD research discipline with which the suborbital investigation is best aligned (Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, or Planetary Science);
  • Description of the potential science investigation and payload/experiment that can be flown on any of the variety of manned suborbital vehicles being developed for commercial personal spaceflight, including any information that might be useful to NASA in considering what commercial suborbital services would best serve the research community and whether to solicit and/or sponsor human-tended investigations within NASA's science program. This information might include, but not be limited to: a description of the experiment/investigation including science objectives, the development status of the investigation and when it might be ready for flight, the experiment's heritage, the physical size/mass and power/data/other requirements of the experiment, any requirements on the suborbital flight environment, the expected cost of preparing this experiment for flight and completing post-flight data analysis, the expected number of flights necessary to complete the investigation, whether the experiment team intends to fly their own qualified team member or to have NASA supply a flight scientist, and any other information that might be helpful to NASA in acquiring commercial suborbital services and planning a pilot research program.


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: NNH08ZDA004L (Scientist Participant Suborbital Science Pilot Program - Flight Research)" 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 three 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 submission 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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