Science and Exploration

NASA Issues Hubble Spacecraft Reboost Capabilities RFI

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
December 22, 2022
Filed under , ,
NASA Issues Hubble Spacecraft Reboost Capabilities RFI
Hubble in 2009
  1. Summary

NASA is seeking interest in demonstrating commercial capabilities to re-boost the orbit of a satellite and is considering utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) for a demonstration in the next few years. Partner(s) would be expected to participate and undertake this mission on a no-exchange-of-funds basis. Should NASA decide to pursue this demonstration, GSFC would provide technical information and technical consultation with GSFC HST experts to facilitate rendezvous, docking, and reboost. Partner(s) would be expected to provide all other resources (including the launch vehicle, spacecraft, crew if applicable to the approach, and mission operations except for HST operations during the mission) necessary to successfully perform the demonstration.

Partners must be U.S. based entities.

  1. Background

NASA, other federal agencies, and commercial entities have a growing number of aging on-orbit scientific satellites, and therefore an increasing need to service, re-locate, de-orbit, dispose of or otherwise manage them at the completion of their missions. With a growing commercial space industry developing and maturing space technologies and capabilities, NASA seeks to partner with commercial entities to demonstrate capabilities to operate and provide in-space services. As an example, HST, in low earth orbit, continues to produce outstanding science since its launch in 1990. Its current altitude is approximately 540 kilometers (km). The spacecraft is predicted to reach 500 km in approximately 2025, at which point there is a risk that rendezvous would be more difficult. HST is predicted to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere in the mid 2030’s unless it is reboosted to a higher orbit before that timeframe.

  1. Requested Response Topics

Responses should include a description of the concept of operations (technical approach(es) for conducting a demonstration, length of docked period, number of burns, and amount of boost expected), demonstrated capabilities to support the concept of operations, an assessment of the risk to HST, and the likelihood of success.

Any public discussion of the results of this RFI may disclose information about the identities of the respondents.

It is not NASA’s intent to disclose publicly Respondents’ proprietary information obtained in response to this RFI. To the full extent that it is protected pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act and other laws and regulations, information identified by a Respondent as “Proprietary or Confidential” will be kept confidential. It is emphasized that this RFI is NOT a Request for Proposal, nor is it an Invitation for Bid. This RFI is being used to promote competition and to obtain information for market research and planning purposes only, and the Government does not intend to enter into an implementation arrangement at this time. Responses to this notice are not considered offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding implementation arrangement. This RFI is subject to review or cancellation at any time and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government to enter into an implementation arrangement. The Government will not pay for the information submitted in response to this request.

Please do not request a copy of the solicitation, as no solicitation exists at this time.

  1. Requested Information

Respondents may not submit confidential information, controlled unclassified information (CUI), proprietary information, or export-controlled information, including International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) restricted information, in response to this RFI.

The response should contain the following information:

  • Name of submitter and contact information (institutional affiliation, E-mail address).
  • The technical objectives of the envisioned demonstration.
  • A description of the envisioned demonstration, including its boost capability, the current technology readiness level (TRL) of key components, and timeline for completion in 18-24 months.
  • A description of the non-monetary contributions/resources expected to be needed from NASA.

5. Response Instructions

All responses must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on January 24, 2023. Please submit responses via Email only to Put “Spacecraft Reboost RFI” in the subject line. It is the responsibility of potential respondents to monitor the System for Award Management (SAM) website for further information regarding this RFI.

All responses should be submitted as a PDF file, 12-point Times New Roman font where paragraphed, as well as single spaced pages with one inch margins, no more than 10 MB file size. No more than five pages in length.

NASA will provide confirmation of RFI response submissions within one business day of receipt. If submitters do not receive this confirmation or for any RFI-related questions, contact Put “Spacecraft Reboost RFI” in the subject line.

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SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.