NASA Sources Sought Notice: 3-D Imaging Sensors for In-flight Shuttle Inspection

Status Report From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2003

General Information

  • Document Type: Sources Sought Notice
  • Solicitation Number: 9-BH13-93-03-29P
  • Posted Date: Jun 17, 2003
  • Original Response Date: Jul 01, 2003
  • Original Archive Date: Jun 17, 2004
  • Current Archive Date:
  • Classification Code: 59 -- Electrical and electronic equipment components

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston Texas, 77058-3696, Mail Code: BH


NASA/JSC is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for proven, flight certifiable sensors that can detect and quantify damage that may occur in-flight to the Space Shuttle Orbiter's thermal protection system (TPS). Such damage may occur during launch or on-orbit from debris impacts and may be of any form, including gouges, holes, or even missing tiles or panels. The concept is to detect flaws by measuring the three-dimensional contour of critical vehicle surfaces. Several sensor mounting locations may be employed, including: (1) the external propellant tank (ET) (imaging the orbiter belly as it separates after main engine cutoff), (2) on an extendable Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) arm, (3) on the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS)arm or other external mounting location, (4) inside a space station window (viewing the orbiter as it pitches around during its approach to the ISS), or (5) on a free-flyer. The viewing geometry and relative motion will be different at each mounting location and the TPS surfaces have a variety of contours and reflective properties. Preliminary sensor requirements are listed below. - Measurement: Detect and quantify 6 mm diameter x 6 mm deep and larger holes Spatial Resolution < 6 mm, Depth Resolution < 6 mm - Minimum Imaging Speed: 0.07 m^2/s at 5 m range; 5 m^2/s at 180 m range - Sensor-Target Range & Motion (as a function of sensor location/scenario):

  • From ET (Image orbiter belly from mate (1 m) to > 50 m at + 1.3 m/s)
  • From SRMS (1 to > 5 m range; 3-axis arm translation oscillation of +/- 6 mm at 0.67 Hz and +/- 1 deg rotation at 0.67 Hz)
  • From ISS window (Orbiter 360 deg pitch-around at 1 deg/s at 180 m range)
  • From Free-Flyer (TBD) - Eye Safe (preferred) - Minimum sensor performance independent of natural lighting intensity and incidence angle - Small, low mass, low input power - Interfaces:

  • Electrical power
  • Command and Data
  • Thermal
  • Structural - Capable of specified performance in the respective mounting environment - Flight hardware and software available and flight certifiable within 6 - 14 months.

    No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation is released it will be synopsized in FedBizOpps and on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service. It is the potential offeror's responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of any solicitation or synopsis. Requested information, for one or more of the mounting scenarios, includes: Functional and physical description, performance specifications, size, weight, power consumption, technology readiness level, design maturity, environmental specs and thermal control requirements. Vendors having the capabilities necessary to meet or exceed the stated requirements are also invited to submit appropriate documentation, literature, brochures, and references. Please advise if the requirement is considered to be a commercial or commercial-type product. A commercial item is defined in FAR 2.101. This synopsis is for information and planning purposes and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government nor will the Government pay for information solicited. Respondents will not be notified of the results of the evaluation. Respondents deemed fully qualified will be considered in any resultant solicitation for the requirement. The Government reserves the right to consider a small business or 8(a) set-aside based on responses hereto. All responses shall be submitted to the identified point of contact no later than 4:30pm on 07/01/03. Please reference 9-BH13-93-03-29P in any response.

    Original Point of Contact

    Michael D. Ballard, Contract Specialist, Phone (281) 244-5350, Fax (281) 244-5331, Email - Michael J Lonchambon, Contracting Officer, Phone (281) 244-5151, Fax (281) 244-5331, Email

    Email your questions to Michael D. Ballard at

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