NASA RFI: Feasibility of using Constellation Architecture for Servicing Existing and Future Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft


image Astrophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA

General Information:

Solicitation Number: NNH09ZDA010L Release
Date: June 10, 2009 Response
Date: August 10, 2009
Classification Code:A -- Research and Development

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is soliciting information through this Request for Information (RFI) to improve its understanding of using the capabilities of its Constellation System, adaptations of the Constellation System architectures, and/or robotic technologies to service a wide range of notional science observatory-class spacecraft. The NASA-defined notional missions studied will be consistent with NASA's current portfolio of future space science missions and/or conceptual mission ideas that were presented to the National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA's Constellation System during the spring of 2008. These notional missions include observatories designed to operate in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), at Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), and at Earth-Sun Lagrangian points L1 and L2.

NASA is broadly seeking information concerning technologies, architectures, and servicing concepts (i.e., what elements of the mission are worth considering for serviceability, how, and why?) relevant to on-orbit servicing of observatory-class spacecraft.

In accordance with FAR 15.201(e), the information requested is for planning purposes only and not intended to bind the Government.

Background:

NASA has been directed in the FY 2009 omnibus appropriations bill (P.L. 111-8) to assess the feasibility, practicality, and cost of using the Constellation System architecture to service observatory-class scientific spacecraft. NASA will fully utilize the unique core expertise and competencies for in-space servicing (human and robotic) developed by the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), the private sector, other government agencies, and academic partners to meet the objectives of the study.


NASA will execute a robust 16-month study, managed by the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) with GSFC leading the analysis. The planning activity began in May 2009 and a final report to Congress is due in September 2010.

NASA will assess the full business case associated with observatory serviceability. This will include the assessment of science and spacecraft capabilities enabled by servicing, and what modifications would be necessary for the Constellation System architecture to provide human and/or robotic servicing capability, including the costs associated with providing, maintaining, and operating such servicing capabilities. Launch vehicle and supporting services, scientific spacecraft/payload, and technology related costs will also be assessed as part of the full business case analysis.

The feasibility of using the Constellation System architecture to service observatory-class spacecraft will be assessed by considering a wide range of notional missions. The notional missions studied will be consistent with NASA's current portfolio of future missions and/or conceptual mission ideas that were presented to the NRC's Committee on Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA's Constellation System during the spring of 2008. These notional missions include observatories designed to operate in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO), at Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO), and at Earth-Sun Lagrangian points L1 and L2.

Description of Anticipated Requirement:

In order to complete this study, NASA must address the challenges posed by robotic and human servicing of observatory-class space science missions using the Constellation System architecture as a starting point. Through this RFI, NASA seeks to raise its awareness of the technologies required, their current state of maturity, possible architectures, science enhancements that may result from servicing, and the programmatic requirements associated with the implementation.

In conjunction with this RFI, and to further support the study, NASA will conduct a series of three workshops that are designed to examine and assess servicing concepts.

Workshop I - Pre-RFI workshop. Around June 27, 2009. NASA will describe the notional missions and answer questions regarding the organization, scope, and period of performance of the study. This Workshop will provide information that is not available at the time of the release of this RFI to potential responders.

Responses to this RFI are due between Workshop I and Workshop II.

Workshop II - Post-RFI Workshop. October 2009. RFI responders will have an opportunity to present ideas, concepts, architectures and/or technologies that could be used to service the defined notional missions. The NASA evaluation team will use the following criteria for considering RFI responses and identifying responders who will be invited to present at Workshop II.

1. What life-extension or performance enhancements are enabled by servicing that, if not for servicing, would require a replacement spacecraft or mission?

2. Is it cost-effective to service the observatory-class spacecraft to either extend its operational life or to significantly increase its scientific capabilities?

(a) Does use of the Constellation System's elements make a previously impossible mission technically feasible?

(b) Does use of the Constellation System's elements reduce mission risk?

(c) Does use of the Constellation System capabilities offer a significant cost reduction in the cost of accomplishing the mission?

3. Are there other architectures or modifications/enhancements to the Constellation System that would enable servicing?

4. Is robotic servicing an option, and what are the benefits and risks for the specific servicing concept?

At the conclusion of this Workshop II, NASA will invite respondents (drawn from the private sector, other government agencies, and academic partners) to participate in teams. These teams will have approximately three months to study, in detail, the servicing concepts associated with specific mission, technology, or architecture topics. Each team will deliver and present a final report at the end of the study period. Additional information on the plans for study teams will be provided at Workshop I.

Workshop III - Post-Study Workshop. March 2010. Final presentation of study team reports to the NASA evaluation team.

Workshop schedules and logistical information will be posted on http://ServicingStudy.gsfc.nasa.gov/. Descriptions of the NASA-defined notional missions and the Constellation System will also be posted to the website. This website will also serve as the repository for all information submitted and collected during this feasibility study. All submitted information will be shared with all participants and will be made publically available. All dates contained in this RFI are tentative. Please consult the website for actual dates and times. Please notify NASA of your intent to participate in these workshops by responding via the website.

It is NASA's intent to publicly disclose information obtained through this RFI and to incorporate relevant portions in the report to be submitted to Congress. Proposers shall not submit proprietary information, export controlled information (including ITAR restricted information), or confidential information in response to this RFI.

This RFI is for planning and information purposes only and is not a commitment by the Government to enter into a contractual agreement, nor will the government pay for information solicited.

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). Responses should not exceed ten pages in length.

The response must contain the following information:

* Name of submitter and contact information (institutional affiliation, phone number, email address);

* Capabilities and qualifications statement that addresses your ability to provide expertise relevant to the analyses for the servicing study.


Responses should provide the following information (by numbered sections), if possible, to aid the NASA evaluation team in identifying responders who will be invited to present at Workshop II:

1. A summary of the servicing concept, including how it is uniquely enabled by the Constellation System or robotic systems;

2. A summary of the science goals, including a description of how the proposed servicing concept will help advance science;

3. Other factors pertaining to the servicing concepts should be provided:

o Whether the mission has been identified as a high priority or requirement in previous studies, for example the NRC reports "Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium" (2001) and or "Launching Science: Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA's Constellation System" (2008);

o A discussion of technology development required by the proposed servicing concept/idea (including, if appropriate) the maturity level of the respondent's technologies in terms of heritage, with supporting evidence for the claimed heritage, and an estimate of investments to date;

o Risk mitigation provided by use of the Constellation or the robotic servicing system.

Instructions:

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 http://nspires.nasaprs.com/. 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 http://nspires.nasaprs.com (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 http://nspires.nasaprs.com/.

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: NNH09ZDA010L (Feasibility of using Constellation Architecture for Servicing Existing and Future Observatory-Class Scientific Spacecraft)" 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 must 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, phone number, and E-mail address so the file is self-contained. File names format should be "Respondent 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 submission deadline. Submitted NOIs cannot be deleted.

Contact Point:

Questions regarding the RFI should be addressed to Ms. Lia LaPiana, Astrophysics Division, Science Mission Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC 20546; Telephone (202) 358-0346; E-mail: Lia.S.LaPiana@nasa.gov.

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