Facility for Space Environmental Testing of Materials Devices and Subsystems on the ISS

Status Report From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013

image Synopsis - Jan 09, 2013

General Information

Solicitation Number: RFI-LARC-MIS-3
Posted Date: Jan 09, 2013
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Jan 09, 2013
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Jan 31, 2013
Current Response Date: Jan 31, 2013
Classification Code: A -- Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Langley Research Center, Mail Stop 12, Industry Assistance Office, Hampton, VA 23681-0001


(1) PURPOSE OF THIS NOTICE AND REQUEST: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is hereby soliciting broad information to identify, improve and/or enhance approaches that will establish an external facility on the International Space Station (ISS) for testing and demonstrating performance, reliability, and durability of spacecraft materials, devices, and subsystems in the low Earth orbit (LEO) space environment. This facility builds on a long history of NASA activities to provide natural space environmental exposure testing that dates back to the Mir Environmental Effects Payload (MEEP) experiment in 1996. MEEP involved a four-part experiment each deployed separately, but using a common carrier design referred to as a Passive Experiment Container (PEC) or "suitcase". The Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) series of deployments built on the successful MEEP concept. From 2001 through the present, there have been six MISSE missions launched on the Space Shuttle with 10 PECs and one smaller tray deployed on ISS using extra-vehicular activity (EVA). The LEO exposure durations for these MISSE missions ranged from 1 to 4 years. To date, over 4,000 samples from approximately 80 organizations including NASA, Department of Defense, industry and academia have flown on MISSE with very high payoff. With the retirement of the Shuttle and the requirement to minimize EVA on ISS and the use of extravehicular robotics (EVR) for all routine operations, continuation of a MISSE-type capability requires development, deployment, and operation of a new facility designed for this operational environment and the associated drivers and constraints. Towards this end, NASA is seeking broad information on approaches for achieving this "next generation" facility capability in five primary areas:

(1) Development - Designing, building, and installing an external environment exposure facility on ISS at the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier (ELC), site 3 location; (2) Operations Management - Operations of this facility capability including facility command & data handling operations, management of initial and re-supply launch/return services, cost models to support operations, etc.; (3) Research Management - Solicitation and manifesting of experiments, data retrieval and dissemination; cost models to support research, etc; (4) Engineering Management - Ground based integration & test services for installing experiments on the facility, support safety & design reviews; cost models to support engineering, etc; (5) Sustaining Management - Maintenance of the facility capability including service/repair and upgrades/enhancements of the facility, cost models to support sustainment, etc.

(2) TYPICAL SPECIFICATIONS: It is the intent of this RFI to solicit a broad range of concepts and approaches that are not overly constrained by hard requirements. Consequently, only a very limited set of requirements is specified; this is augmented by guidelines that are not requirements but that may be useful in developing the responses.

The following capability characteristics are provided as requirements:

(1) The facility shall be externally mounted on ISS on an EXPRESS Logistics Carrier (ExPA) and be compatible with associated ISS interface requirements such as payload envelope, mass, center-of-gravity, power, etc. (2) The facility shall be installed, operated and maintained using EVR with no nominal requirement for EVA. (Note: Must accommodate design for EVA to support ISS contingency operations only.) (3) The facility shall accommodate active (power and commanding) and passive experiments. (4) The facility shall allow experiment exposure in at least the ram, wake, and zenith directions relative to the ISS coordinate system. (5) The facility shall allow for the return to Earth of exposed experiments. (Note: Not all experiments require return and experiments may be grouped in containers to minimize operations).

The following capability characteristics are provided as guidelines:

(1) Experiment exposure duration of 1 to 3 years. (2) Maximize experiment surface exposure area while minimizing cross-contamination. (3) On-orbit maintenance-free operational life of at least 3 years. (4) On-orbit serviceable life of at least 10 years. (5) Facility modular block upgrade path for enhanced capabilities and services.

Other capabilities that may be considered include but are not limited to:

(1) Environmental monitoring such as measurements of atomic oxygen, solar ultraviolet radiation, total ionizing dose, temperature, etc. (2) Telemetry, archival and dissemination of on-orbit facility and experiment data. (3) Obtaining high-resolution visual images of exposed experiment surfaces. (4) Removal and replacement of experiment containers

While it is highly desirable to have capabilities to maximize science and technology return, this must be appropriately balanced against cost and complexity. In this case, complexity involves two primary elements: (1) Design complexity in which it is highly desirable to have a design that is simple and inherently robust, that has low likelihood of failures, and that requires minimum maintenance; (2) Installation/operations/sustaining complexity where major considerations include compatibility with EVR operations, minimum frequency of EVR and Intravehicular Activity (IVA) operations, and minimum use of the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) airlock.

(3) RESPONSE REQUESTED: NASA appreciates responses from all capable and qualified sources. The responses should address: (1) Concepts, plans, and/or business models for any or all of the five primary areas (Development, Operations Management, Research Management, Engineering Management, and Sustaining Management) described above; (2) Organizational capabilities and experiences that are relevant to these areas; (3) Rough order of magnitude (ROM) cost estimate to provide all capabilities described/discussed for each primary area addressed; and (4) High level schedule for each primary area addressed above.

(4) RESPONSE DATE: Responses are requested by January 31, 2013. Information received after this date will only be considered if deemed in the Governments best interest. Please reference this RFI in your response. Respondents are cautioned to suitably mark any information that it considers proprietary. All electronic responses should be sent to the RFI POCs, identified below.

(5) ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. The purpose of this RFI is to solicit broad information to identify, improve and/or enhance approaches that will establish an external facility on the ISS for testing and demonstrating performance, reliability, and durability of spacecraft materials, devices, and subsystems in the LEO space environment. Additional information, if forthcoming, will be synopsized in the NASA Acquisition Internet Service (NAIS) and FedBizOps. It is the responsibility of potential users to monitor NAIS for the release of any additional information or synopsis. This RFI is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government nor will the Government pay for any information solicited. Since this is an RFI, no evaluation letters and/or results will be issued to the respondents.

(6) POINTS OF CONTACT: Responses should be emailed to and reference this RFI Solicitation No. in the email subject line. Questions should be emailed to with the respective Point of Contact in the email subject line. The Points of Contact are as follows: Stuart Cooke, MISSE-X Project Manager or Randy Lillard, Program Executive for Technology Demonstration Missions.

Point of Contact

Name: Rosemary C. Froehlich
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 757-864-2423
Fax: 757-864-8541

Name: Teresa M Hass
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 757-864-8496
Fax: 757-864-8863

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