NASA Sources Sought Notice Teaming Opportunity for the Program Element "In-Space Propulsion Technologies" of the NASA Research Announcement "Reseach O

Status Report From: Langley Research Center
Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2002

General Information

  • Document Type: Sources Sought Notice
  • Solicitation Number: SS-055-ROSS
  • Posted Date: Oct 15, 2002
  • Original Response Date:
  • Original Archive Date: Oct 15, 2003
  • Current Archive Date:
  • Classification Code: A -- Research & Development

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Langley Research Center, Mail Stop 144, Industry Assistance Office, Hampton, VA 23681-0001


NASA Langley Research Center is seeking partners to develop proposals for the program element entitled, "In-Space Propulsion Technologies" of the NRA-02-0SS-01 entitled, "Research Opportunities in Space Science (ROSS) - 2002 Program" Synopsis: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) intends to release the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) in October 2002 for the "Research Opportunities in Space Science (ROSS) - 2002" Program. Amendment No.10 of the NRA addresses a new program element entitled "In-Space Propulsion (ISP) Technologies - Cycle 2 Program".

The objectives of the In-Space Propulsion Technologies - Cycle 2 Program are to develop advanced propulsion technologies for use beyond Earth orbit that enable or reduce trip times, mass, and/or cost associated with NASA science missions to the outer planets, satellites, small bodies, and other solar system destinations. This phase of the ISP program specifically focuses on the development of the following advanced in-space propulsion technologies that are expected to enable or enhance a wide variety of NASA's science missions including Aerocapture, Advanced Chemical Propulsion, Kilowatt Solar Electric Propulsion Systems, Momentum eXchange/Electrodynamic Reboost (MXER) Tether Technology, Plasma Sails, Solar Sails, Solar Thermal Propulsion Technologies. The ISP program is envisioned to be flexible enough to accept technology developments at various stages of maturity (entry TRL 3 to 6), and through appropriate risk reduction activities (such as requirements analysis, conceptual design, laboratory breadboards and pre-engineering models), advance the TRL of the component or subsystem. Successful proposers must present innovative concepts which address key space science questions.

The IST Program will competitively select proposals through a peer review process. NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) is seeking partners from other government agencies, industry, academia, and Federal Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) to participate with NASA LaRC Principal Investigators (PI) in the ISP Program to develop proposals and execute development and performance demonstrations of components and subsystems. Subject to the availability of funds, it is anticipated selected proposal(s) would result in component and/or subsystem contract(s) for the selected partner(s). This partnering opportunity does not guarantee selection for award of any contracts, nor is it to be construed as a commitment by NASA to pay for the information solicited. It is expected that the partner(s) selected would provide (at no cost to NASA) conceptual designs, technical data, proposal input, project schedules and cost estimates consistent with the requirements of the NRA. Potential partners must demonstrate the capabilities and experience to provide components and subsystems consistent with the efforts synopsized for each intended LaRC proposal. Partners must work collaboratively with NASA and other potential government, industry and academic partners to perform the required tasks.

Partner selection(s) will be made by LaRC based on the following criteria in the following order of importance: (1) Relevant experience, past performance, technical capability and availability of key personnel: This criteria evaluates the proposer's relevant recent experience, past performance in similar development activities, technical capability to perform the development and key personnel available to support the development. Substantive evidence (points of contact and telephone numbers) of successful participation in similar developments should be included. (2) Cost and schedule control: This criteria evaluates the proposer's ability to control both cost and schedule. The proposer should provide evidence of successfully controlling cost and schedule for similar development programs and provide evidence of management processes in this area. (3) Facilities: This criterion evaluates the proposer's facilities (development, testing, and analyses) to conduct the development or demonstration of the proposed task. The proposer should discuss facility availability, access, and the ability to meet the proposed objectives. Responses should be limited to 5 pages (12 point font) and address each of the criteria. A separate proposal, even though it maybe duplicative must be submitted for each instrument team that the responder wishes to be considered. In all cases, the responder must indicate on the cover page of the proposal (not part of 5 page allocation) the applicable instrument team(s).

All responses should be sent to: NASA Langley Research Center, Attn: Gregory S. Manuel, Mail Stop 200, Building 1229, Room 102, Hampton, VA 23681. The preferred method of submission is via email to: The due date for submission is COB October 25, 2002. Procurement questions should be directed to Mary Jane Yeager, NASA LaRC Procurement Office, 757-864-2473, The following LaRC technology proposals are seeking partnerships.

The technical requirements and NASA LaRC point of contact for questions is provided for each technology proposal:

1. Aerocapture - Design, Fabrication and Test of Attached Inflatable Aerocapture Concepts Technical Point of Contact: James M. Corliss, 757-864-7627, NASA Langley Research Center is actively developing aerocapture technologies for planetary exploration missions. Specifically, NASA Langley is conducting conceptual designs and performance studies of inflatable drag devices to assist in the execution of a spacecraft's aerocapture maneuver. Of particular interest are concepts for attached ballutes, their related ancillary systems, and the performance of ballute materials. Langley is therefore seeking partners with which to conduct systems analyses and perform material tests in the study of an attached ballute system. The partner(s) must work collaboratively with government representatives and other potential industry and academic partners to perform some or all of the following tasks: Conduct concepts studies for attached, inflatable aerobrakes. Characterize the aeroelastic performance of ballutes through analysis and/or testing. Compare the performance of an entry vehicle with attached ballute to a vehicle using a traditional rigid aeroshell. Partners selected under this synopsis will participate in the development of a proposal to the anticipated In-Space Propulsion Technologies, Cycle 2, ROSS 2002 NRA.

2. Plasma Sails - Computational Studies of Fundamental Interactions and Processes Technical Point of Contact: James M. Corliss, 757-864-7627, NASA Langley Research Center is developing analysis capabilities and methods for conducting computational studies related to predicting the performance and behavior of plasma sail propulsion systems. Specifically, NASA Langley is developing capabilities to analyze the thermal response and thermal balance of plasma sails. Langley is seeking partners with the additional computational capabilities required to more fully model and study the potential capabilities of plasma sail concepts. Potential partner(s) must work collaboratively with government representatives and other potential industry and academic partners, and have analytical capabilities in the following computational areas: Kinetic and fluid computational models of solar wind interaction with an artificial magnetosphere with emphasis on system performance equilibrium conditions, and possible instabilities. Computational studies of plasma sail fundamental processes such as plasma expansion of an artificial magnetosphere, plasma sources, self-consistent current generation, plasma losses, neutral interaction, and magnetic field production. Global stability of artificial magnetospheres. Langley is strongly interested in partners that have access to and experience in conducting laboratory investigations that would validate the plasma sail computational methods and analytical tools developed under this effort. Partners selected under this synopsis will participate in the development of a proposal to the anticipated In-Space Propulsion Technologies, Cycle 2, ROSS 2002 NRA.

3. Integrated Solar Sail Diagnostics Package Technical Point of Contact: Mr. Richard S. Pappa, 757-864-4321, NASA Langley Research Center is seeking partners with which to develop extremely lightweight, unobtrusive, low-power sensors and data networks for in-space structural measurement of large area structures such as solar sails. Partners are also sought with expertise in membrane structural mechanics and dynamics, ground test methods for large thin-film membrane structures, photogrammetric analysis and simulation methods, and custom photogrammetry software development. Structural parameters of interest for in-space measurement include deployment dynamics, deployed shape, deployed vibration properties, sail tension, sail film and boom stresses, sail temperature, and sail integrity. Measurement technologies include, but are not limited to, photogrammetry and videogrammetry, laser scanners or trackers, embedded fiber optic sensors, miniature local GPS networks, accelerometers, load cells, strain gages, and thermistors. Data networks include miniature wireless, fiber-optic, storage, and transmission technologies. Selected technologies will be integrated at NASA and used to test multiple 400 m2 ground test articles in the 2003-2005 timeframe. The measurement system must be evolvable to a mass of less than 2.0 Kg for in-space use on a 5000 m2 sail. Partners selected under this synopsis will participate in the development of a proposal to the anticipated In-Space Propulsion Technologies, Cycle 2, ROSS 2002 NRA.

4. Solar Sail Computational Modeling Technology Technical Point of Contact POC: Jonathan Ransom, 757-864-292, NASA Langley Research Center is actively involved in solar sail development for the potential of providing cost effective, propellantless propulsion systems for future space explorations. Large gossamer structures such as solar sails are often folded and packaged into a small volume for launching and then deployed in space using inflation deployment systems. Existing ground-testing facilities are not adequate to replicate the space-environment of full-scale solar sails, necessitating ground-test correlation of deployment and on-orbit performance with analysis using sub-scale components. Existing computational tools for deployment and shape characterization of solar sails are insufficient for these structures due to the slow analysis time and other computational challenges. Hence, the Center envisions developing high fidelity, advanced computational models and integrated multi-disciplinary analysis tools to provide detailed analytical predictions appropriate for ground-test, deployment, and on-orbit performance for solar sail missions. Specifically, NASA plans to develop efficient analytical tools capable of predicting the shape and response of solar sails. The Center is therefore seeking partners with which to develop advanced analysis technology to meet these needs.

The technologies solicited include (but are not necessarily limited to) finite element models and methodology, dynamic deployment simulation, software development and experimental testing. Partners selected under this synopsis will participate in the development of a proposal to "In-space Propulsion Technologies" program element of the anticipated NASA Research Announcement entitled "Research Opportunities in Space Science (ROSS) 2002 Program".

Original Point of Contact

Mary Jane Yeager, Contracting Officer, Phone (757) 864-2473, Fax (757) 864-7709, Email

Email your questions to Mary Jane Yeager at

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