Status Report

Advancing Economic Development in LEO via Commercial Use of Limited Availability Unique ISS Capabilities

By SpaceRef Editor
July 14, 2016
Filed under , ,

Full soiicitation

Advancing Economic Development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) via Commercial Use of Limited Availability, Unique International Space Station Capabilities
Solicitation Number: NNJ16ZBG006L
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Office: Johnson Space Center
Location: Mail Code: BG

Solicitation Number: NNJ16ZBG006L
Notice Type: Sources Sought
Synopsis: Added: Jul 01, 2016 11:01 am
Request for Information

Advancing Economic Development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) via Commercial Use of Limited Availability, Unique International Space Station Capabilities

This is a Request for Information (RFI) only and does not constitute a commitment, implied or otherwise, that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will take action in this matter. NASA is investigating options and approaches to expedite commercial activity in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Specifically, NASA is looking to increase private sector demand for space research and expand on the work of Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the manager of the ISS National Laboratory. NASA is not only interested in technical solutions to advance these goals, but also in contract or agreement structures that potential offerors would see as beneficial to advance private sector demand for low Earth orbit research. NASA does not have unique funds for this activity. Respondents are also requested to address International Space Station (ISS) resource access along with commercial market demand and private funding considerations. No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation or an update to an existing solicitation is developed from this RFI it will be synopsized in FedBizOpps. It is the potential offeror’s responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of any solicitation or synopsis.


This RFI is being used to determine private market interest in using unique ISS capabilities that have limited availability in order to advance economic development in LEO. NASA will use the results of this RFI to guide development of a possible future announcement of opportunity appropriate to the Agency’s objective of fostering a self-sustaining commercial marketplace in LEO. NASA is seeking industry ideas to stimulate economic development through the use of unique ISS capabilities such as unused common berthing mechanism (CBM) attachment ports, non-standard attachment sites or any other capability which can be used in a way not previously envisioned. NASA is also interested in operating approaches.

In April 2016, NASA issued a Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (NextSTEP-2) Broad Agency Announcement, an omnibus announcement covering all aspects of basic and applied supporting research and technology for human space exploration and robotic precursor activities. The April release of the NextSTEP-2 BAA included Appendix A: Habitat Systems, which is focused on developing long duration, deep space habitation concepts, resulting in ground prototype units. The NextSTEP BAA is seeking proposals specifically for deep space that could also advance commercial LEO habitation capabilities. Unlike NextSTEP-2, this RFI is strictly seeking information on potential commercial LEO activities which leverage the ISS as a platform, regardless of the application to deep space human exploration objectives.

Unique Capabilities which are Available:

Some capabilities on the ISS are available for immediate use while others may currently be in use but can be made available. Unique capabilities that could be made available include:

• Currently available

o Common Berthing Mechanism ports, if the user provides equivalent capability to maintain ISS functionality
o Trunnion Pins
o Other unique interfaces or capabilities of the ISS as suggested by the offeror

• Available in the future
o Common Berthing Mechanism attachment site at Node 3 Aft

Funds Available to Enable the Partnership(s):

NASA’s budget does not include any dedicated funding to enable partnership(s) for use of these limited availability, unique capabilities. However, if warranted, ISS budget may be available to cover the ISS integration work required to enable use of these capabilities.

Information Requested from Responders:

NASA is interested in understanding the following information from responders:

• Unique ISS capabilities the responder is interested in with a description of proposed use.

• Need dates and minimum durations that the capability would be required.

• How this activity will advance economic development and private sector demand for research in space. Results of market studies, if available.

• Suggested approaches for NASA to evaluate the plans for achieving and maintaining an appropriate balance between the responders’ commercial objectives and the Agency’s broader objectives of advancing economic development and private sector demand for research in space.

• Minimum criteria to be met in order to retain on-going use of the capability and timelines for terminating use of the capabilities if ongoing evaluation indicates the use of the capability is no longer meeting the minimum criteria.

• How the offeror plans to fund and sustain their asset on ISS. What is the business case to sustain the asset after ISS end of life?

• How the offeror plans to obtain crew or cargo transportation, if required? If the offeror expects to obtain these or other resources through NASA or CASIS, please indicate the magnitude of resources expected.

• Suggestion of ways NASA can incentivize a partner to stimulate economic development in LEO with minimal to no unique NASA direct investment.

• Identification of specific barriers to proposed commercial use of these capabilities.

• A discussion on how this activity would intersect with the CASIS role to foster use of the National Laboratory and how CASIS could best support your efforts.

Activity Terms and Conditions:

Responders are invited to provide suggestions on what terms and conditions are beneficial for industry and NASA for these partnerships.

Specific Requests:

• Describe your preferred transaction type (Space Act Agreement, Cooperative Agreement, no-cost contract, other) with rationale.

• Specify any government furnished equipment, facilities, and/or services that would be needed by the responder to enter into an appropriate transaction for use of the unique capability requested.

• Identify fund raising and development milestones that the responder would need to achieve to meet their part of the activity. Include the dependencies between any critical government commitments (equipment delivery, facilities usage or services such as unique analysis) that are required to enable the responder to meet these milestones.

• Specify any specific intellectual property clauses, marketing or advertising agreements, or other conditions that are required to enable the responder to meet their part of the activity.

• Suggest any variances or changes to the ISS Code of Conduct needed for the future partnership.

Company Information:

• Company name, point of contact name, phone number, e-mail address.
• Major economic development activities underway related to stimulating a commercial marketplace in LEO, if any.

Response Preparation and Transmittal:

This is a request for information only. It is not a procurement, commitment to procure items or services, or request for proposals. NASA will not reimburse any costs incurred for preparation or submission of information in response to this RFI.

NASA reserves the right to share all information received in response to this RFI throughout NASA and to use all information submitted in response to this RFI in NASA’s formulation of one or more partnerships for or related to the stimulation of economic development activities in LEO. NASA does not wish to receive any competition sensitive data that requires protection. However, if it is necessary to submit competition sensitive data to answer any of the questions in this RFI that data should be clearly segregated and marked as sensitive. Although information contained herein represents current program content and acquisition planning, it is subject to change.

Questions and responses shall reference this RFI. Interested parties should submit a response of no more than 20 single-sided pages indicating their interest as described herein. A cover page may be added in addition to the 20 pages.

Point of Contact:

Questions concerning this RFI shall be submitted via email to Omar Collier at and Marybeth Edeen at Electronic submission of the responses is due by July 29th by 5:00 pm central daylight time.

Contracting Office Address: NASA/Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Mail Code: BG Houston, Texas 77058-3696 United States
Primary Point of Contact.: Omar Collier,
Contractring Officer
Secondary Point of Contact: Marybeth Edeen, Manager of ISS Research Integration Office

SpaceRef staff editor.