NASA Announces Opportunities to Advance ‘Tipping Point’ Space Technologies through Public-Private Partnerships with American Industry

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, February 15, 2019

NASA announces opportunities for public-private partnerships to achieve the agency’s strategic goals for expanding capabilities and opportunities in space. NASA seeks to enable industry to develop and qualify selected technologies for market through the solicitation titled "Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies” released on February 15.


NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is seeking industry-developed commercial space technologies that are at a “tipping point” in their development cycle. For the purpose of this Appendix, a space technology is at a tipping point if:


·         an investment in a ground demonstration or flight demonstration will result in:

o   a significant advancement of the technology's maturation, and

o   a significant improvement in the offerors' ability to successfully bring the space technology to market, and

·         there is clear evidence of previous investments in maturing the technology (e.g., venture capital, corporate investment, etc.) indicating a pre-existing plan to commercialize the technology, and

·         the technology is at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of at least 4 at time of proposal submission.


This release is soliciting tipping point technologies from the following topics:


  • Topic 1: Cryogenic Propellant Production and Management: Demonstrate systems capable of producing hydrogen and oxygen from water and liquifying them for use as propellant, scaling to tens of metric tons per month, operating with little to no human involvement in space or on the lunar surface. Demonstrate technologies enabling autonomous storage and transfer of cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen, capable of scaling to tens of metric tons, with negligible losses for at least a year in space and on the lunar surface.


  • Topic 2: Sustainable Energy Generation, Storage, and Distribution: Demonstrate technologies to enable continuous power throughout the lunar day and night, capable of scaling to tens of kilowatts or more for long-term surface operations. These technologies may also include features to endure the extreme thermal conditions or thermal management to maintain acceptable operating temperatures throughout the lunar day/night cycle without compromising mission objectives. This Topic also seeks innovative power distribution technologies to transmit power between widely distributed power sources and loads on the lunar surface.


  • Topic 3: Efficient and Affordable Propulsion Systems: Fully integrated system-level solutions are sought exhibiting power, size, and mass characteristics suitable for small spacecraft applications in the 60 kg to 200 kg range. Propulsion systems that have modularity or that can support ganging of multiple thrusters for utilization on a broad range of spacecraft sizes, including CubeSats or larger ESPA-class spacecraft, would also be of interest. While the emphasis is on small spacecraft below 200 kg, this does not preclude interest in propulsion systems for larger spacecraft that can be launched as secondary payloads, if there are identified commercial needs for such systems.


  • Topic 4: Other Capabilities needed for Exploration: NASA is interested in tipping point technologies that would enable capabilities needed for the Moon to Mars Exploration Campaign that are also of interest to commercial space. Of particular interest are


    • Autonomous operations
    • Rover mobility
    • Precision landing
    • Advanced avionics


Proposed efforts to this Appendix must be led by a United States of America (U.S.) for-profit entity. A "U.S. for-profit entity" is a commercial firm or business incorporated and operates in the United States. See section 3.0 of the Appendix for full list of eligibility requirements/restrictions.


This release will utilize a two-step proposal submission and evaluation process. The initial step will be a short mandatory preliminary proposal. Those offerors submitting the most highly rated mandatory preliminary proposals will be invited to submit a final proposal. All proposals must be submitted electronically through NSPIRES by an authorized organizational representative (AOR).


Key Dates:


Appendix Release Date:

February 15, 2019

Mandatory Preliminary Proposal Questions Due:

March 26, 2019

Mandatory Preliminary Proposal Due:

April 4, 2019 (5 p.m. Eastern)

Invitation for Final Proposal/Feedback Provided:

May 30, 2019 (target)

Final Proposal Questions Due:

August 1, 2019

Final Proposal Due:

August 8, 2019 (5 p.m. Eastern)   (target)

Selection Announcement:

October 31, 2019 (target)

Award Date:

March 1, 2020 (target)



The complete solicitation may be found online at the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES):!{27329EE7-1784-56BE-E175-5936B219C8AD}&path=open


Questions and comments about this solicitation should be submitted via email to:


// end //

More status reports and news releases or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.