NASA Request for Information: Centennial Challenges Unmanned Aircraft System Airspace Operations Challenge

Status Report From: Goddard Space Flight Center
Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Synopsis - Oct 16, 2012

UAS AOC draft rules - Posted on Oct 16, 2012 New!

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNH13ZUA001L
Posted Date: Oct 16, 2012
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Oct 16, 2012
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Nov 15, 2012
Current Response Date: Nov 15, 2012
Classification Code: A -- Research and Development
NAICS Code: 334511

Contracting Office Address

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



Request for Information - Centennial Challenges Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Airspace Operations Challenge, NNH13ZUA001L

AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ACTION: Request for Information by November 15, 2012. Responses must be submitted in electronic form no later than November 15, 2012 to Dr. Larry Cooper, Centennial Challenges Program, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20546-0001. E-mail address: For general information on the NASA Centennial Challenges Program see: .

SUMMARY: This notice is issued in accordance with 51 U.S.C. 20144.

NASA's Centennial Challenge Program seeks to stimulate innovation in technologies that have value to NASA and the nation through open prize competitions that directly engage the public, academia, and industry. NASA is considering initiation of an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Airspace Operations Challenge (UAS AOC or "Challenge") focused on finding innovative solutions to the problems surrounding the integration of UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS). The approach being considered would require competitors to maintain safe separation from other air traffic while operating their UAS in congested airspace, under a variety of scenarios. This will be accomplished through the use of "sense and avoid" technologies, as envisioned in the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). NASA is planning this Challenge in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), with NASA providing the prize purse. For general information on the NASA Centennial Challenges Program please see: .

The purpose of this Request For Information (RFI) is threefold: (1) determine the UAS community's level of interest in competing in this Challenge, (2) gather feedback on the draft rules that are being released in association with this RFI, and (3) identify potential partners interested in (a) providing a venue for the flight competition, (b) assisting NASA in managing and executing this Challenge which may include qualification of potential competitors. A set of draft rules, included in this RFI, has been developed for this Challenge, to give potential competitors and partners more insight into the scope and technical sophistication of the contest.

This RFI is for informational purposes only and the Government will not pay for the information received. This RFI is NOT to be construed as a commitment by the government to enter into any agreement or other obligation or to conduct a UAS Airspace Operations Challenge.

This document is for information and planning purposes and to gauge interest from the community in participation. The Government welcomes all segments of industry, academia, and government, including associations, innovators, and enthusiasts to reply.

Responses should be submitted in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word format and are limited to five (5) pages in length. Responses should include (as applicable): name, address, email address, and phone number of the respondent, business, or organization, with point of contact for business or organization. All responses are to be for general access by Government evaluators and comments on draft rules may be provided to the public.

Responses must be submitted in electronic form no later than November 15, 2012 to Dr. Larry Cooper, Centennial Challenges Program, NASA Headquarters 300 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20546-0001. E-mail address:

DATES: Due date for responses to this RFI is November 15, 2012 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:


The UAS AOC being considered would initially be competed in 2013 at a location in the United States that will be determined prior to NASA announcement of the Challenge.

The successful integration of UAS into the NAS may be enabled by a series of technological and operational innovations that can be broadly applied to increase the safety and efficiency of the entire airspace system. The UAS AOC will be formulated to accelerate the development and integration of these innovations into single aircraft that can demonstrate these capabilities under realistic conditions, in flight. As currently envisioned, the UAS AOC would be divided into Level 1 and Level 2 competitions. Both would focus on capabilities that have been identified during the development of the Next Generation (NextGen) Airspace concept.

The Level 1 Competition (L1C) would focus on a competitor's ability to fly 4-Dimensional Trajectories (4DT) to provide a reasonable expectation that they will be where they are supposed to be, when they are scheduled to be there, successfully employ Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B), maintain safe separation from other ADS-B equipped air traffic, and operate safely in a number of contingency situations. The Level 2 Competition (L2C) would extend the requirements in each of these areas while adding a requirement to maintain safe separation from air traffic not equipped with ADS-B and a requirement that the vehicle be able to communicate verbally with the Air Traffic Control system under "lost link" conditions.

Competitors would be required to have a working Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation (HiLSim) for their flight vehicle. The HiLSim would be used at the beginning of the competition, prior to flight, to verify that a competing UAS's flight operators, ground software, and flight software exhibit the proper responses in a variety of safety-critical situations. It would also be used to verify that a team is capable of performing the basic tasks required by the competition. HiLSim test suites would be provided prior to the competition to allow competitors to verify they are in compliance with contest requirements during development.

In order to meet flight test range safety requirements, the L1C may be preceded by a Qualification Round in which prospective teams would establish the airworthiness of their flight vehicle in addition to the flight skills of their system operators and/or safety pilot. Specific details of this process will depend on final competition site selection.

I. Prize Amounts The purse for the L1C is planned to be $500,000 (five hundred thousand U.S. dollars). Up to 20% of the Level 1 prize purse may be used to reward competitors for successful completion of the Qualification Round. The L2C, which would be conducted approximately one year after successful completion of the L1C, is planned to have a prize purse of $1,000,000 (one million U.S. dollars). Prizes will be offered to entries that meet specific requirements detailed in the final rules should a challenge be announced.

II. Eligibility To be eligible to win a prize, the competitor must (1) register and comply with all requirements in the rules and enter into a team agreement; (2) in the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States; and (3) shall not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment.


The draft rules for the proposed UAS Challenge are included in the attachment. Comments must be submitted no later than November 15, 2012 to Dr. Larry Cooper at E-mail address: For general information on the NASA Centennial Challenges Program see: . The point of contact is Dr. Larry Cooper, Centennial Challenges Program, NASA Headquarters 300 E Street SW, Washington DC 20546-0001. E-mail address:

Point of Contact

Name: Dr. Larry P Cooper
Title: Program Executive for Centennial Challenges
Phone: 202-358-1531
Fax: 202-358-3223

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