Status Report

Announcement of Intent Concerning the NASA Office of Space Science Plans for the New Frontiers Investigations Extended Version

By SpaceRef Editor
June 19, 2002
Filed under ,

The Solar System Exploration Division of the Office of Space Science (OSS), National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), intends to release an Announcement of
Opportunity (AO) in the August/September 2002 timeframe to solicit proposals for planetary
space flight science investigations through the New Frontiers Program. New Frontiers is a new
Solar System exploration program for midsized planetary missions built around a clearly
announced set of goals and science priorities derived from both NASA’s ongoing strategic
planning process and the Decadal Survey of Planetary Science to be published by the National
Academy of Sciences. Proposals in response to this New Frontiers AO will be due 90 days after
its formal release. A New Frontiers Presolicitation Conference is scheduled 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
EDT on July 23, 2002 at the Holiday Inn-Capitol, 550 C Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20024,
telephone (202) 479-4000, and will address additional details for this AO. For proposal
community convenience, a Discovery Program Lessons Learned Workshop is scheduled on the
following day, July 24.

The New Frontiers Program is structured and managed along the lines of the highly successful
Discovery Program with mission selection through a fully open and competitive process.
Investigation teams are to be led by a single Principal Investigator (PI), with participation open
to all categories of organizations, both foreign and domestic, including educational institutions,
industry, nonprofit organizations, NASA Centers, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and other
Government agencies. Principal Investigators (PI’s) are responsible for and allowed to assemble
the mission team from any and all of these organizations; however, if project management and
end-to-end systems engineering are to be implemented from a NASA Center, then these
functions must be performed by either JPL or Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), as
designated by OSS.

This intended New Frontiers AO will be similar to those for NASA’s Discovery and Explorer
Programs in that it will solicit two types of flight investigations:

  1. New Frontiers Mission investigations for which the PI is responsible for a complete space
    flight investigation including the experiment hardware, the spacecraft, launch services, all
    mission operations, and data analysis. New Frontiers Mission investigations will be for
    specific, to be announced planetary target(s) consistent with NASA’s strategic planning
    process and the Decadal Survey of Planetary Science.

    For this intended AO, New Frontiers Mission investigations are capped at an OSS cost of
    $650M (Fiscal Year 2003) and must be launched no later than September 30, 2008.
    Furthermore, schedules must be such that launch occurs within 47 months from the start
    of the investigation design/development phase (Phase C/D), and Phase C/D costs are
    capped at $400M (Fiscal Year 2003).

    (Note that OSS defines the Concept Study as Phase A, and Phase B as the preliminary
    design phase ending approximately one month after the Preliminary Design Review
    (PDR). No constraint is placed on the length of Phase B or Phase E (operations). Phase
    F is defined as the extended mission phase and must be proposed, if applicable for the

  2. New Frontiers Mission of Opportunity investigations for which the “parent” mission is
    sponsored by an organization other than NASA OSS. The Mission of Opportunity PI is
    responsible to NASA OSS for an investigation to be conducted on or through that
    mission, including provision for all acquired science data to NASA. New Frontiers
    Mission of Opportunity investigations may be for any planetary target.

    For this intended AO, New Frontiers Mission of Opportunity investigations are capped at
    $35M (Fiscal Year 2003), must be conducted on a no-exchange-of funds basis with the
    agency sponsoring the parent mission, and require a commitment from the sponsoring
    organization by December 31, 2003. Although the launch date is not constrained for
    Mission of Opportunity investigations, it should not be substantially later than the end of

Important features of this intended New Frontiers AO are anticipated to include the following:

  • Up to three Mission investigations may be selected through this AO, each funded up to
    $1M (Real Year) to perform a six-month Concept Study. NASA will review these
    Concept Studies with the expectation of confirming one investigation for flight.

  • One or more Mission of Opportunity investigations may also be selected, although
    NASA will not be required to make such a selection. If a Concept Study is deemed
    necessary for selected Mission of Opportunity investigation(s), funding will be
    determined on a case-by-case basis, but will not exceed $250K (Real Year) per selected

  • Options for extended missions (Phase F) must be included in proposals to the AO, if
    applicable, and costs for such options must be included in the investigation cost estimate
    (NASA OSS Cost). The inclusion of such options does not, however, imply a
    commitment from NASA to exercise them.

  • New Frontiers teams will be responsible for collecting the scientific, engineering, and
    ancillary information necessary to validate and calibrate the scientific data prior to timely
    delivery to the Planetary Data System (PDS). There shall be no proprietary data rights
    period for New Frontiers investigations.

  • Investigation teams must include an adequately funded data analysis period, independent
    of PDS archiving activities, as a part of their Phase E activities. Data analysis should be
    understood to include the publication of scientific results of the investigation in refereed

  • The cost of Participating Scientist Programs (PSP’s) and Data Analysis Programs
    (DAP’s), initiated no earlier than Phase E, must be included in the investigation cost
    estimate (NASA OSS Cost).

  • In accordance with established OSS policies, Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) will
    be an integral element of the New Frontiers Program, with 1-2% of the NASA OSS Cost
    (excluding launch vehicles) allocated to E/PO activities. A detailed E/PO
    implementation plan will be developed by each selected investigation during the Concept

  • Plans for new technologies and applications should be included consistent with the
    document, The Space Science Enterprise Integrated Technology Strategy (October 1998).
    It is important, however, that investigations depending on new technologies have sound
    development/qualification plans and/or adequate backup plans defined for use as
    applicable in the event that the new technologies encounter development difficulties. A
    detailed plan for new technology infusion and transfer will be developed by each selected
    investigation during the Concept Study.

  • Plans for Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) and minority institutions should be
    included consistent with NASA’s goals for participation for these organizations. A
    detailed SDB implementation plan will be developed by each selected investigation
    during the Concept Study.

  • Radioisotope sources of electrical power, such as Radioisotope Thermoelectric
    Generators (RTG’s) are permitted. If RTG’s are required for a selected and confirmed
    investigation, they will be provided by NASA as Government Furnished Equipment
    (GFE) through the Department of Energy, and their costs included in the proposed cost to
    OSS. Other, smaller, radioactive sources (e.g., radioactive heating units and/or
    instrument calibration sources) are also permitted. Radioactive sources will require a
    timely Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and a Nuclear Safety Launch Approval
    request. Sufficient resources shall be budgeted to provide the EIS supporting
    documentation and NASA’s preparation of the EIS and Nuclear Safety Launch Approval

  • Navigation, tracking, control, and communication services will be provided by JPL.

  • Where NASA-provided services are used, full cost accounting practices must be used in
    developing the investigation cost estimate (NASA OSS Cost).

  • Contributions of any kind, cash or non-cash (property and services) by organizations
    other than OSS are welcome, with the exception that contributions of launch services and
    nuclear power sources from non-U.S. sources are not permitted. Contributions to New
    Frontier Mission investigations may not exceed one third (1/3) of the proposed NASA
    OSS cost for the mission design/development phase (Phase C/D). Contributions will not
    be counted against the NASA OSS cost cap, but must be included in the calculation and
    discussion of the Total Mission Costs.

  • International participation may include the contribution of scientific instruments, the
    spacecraft (or a portion thereof), and the subsequent sharing of the data from the mission,
    at no cost to NASA.

  • New Frontiers Mission investigations may be launched as primary payloads on
    expendable launch vehicles (ELV’s) or on the Space Shuttle. Although NASA will fund
    launch service costs directly, these costs are to be included in the proposed NASA OSS

  • Every New Frontiers Mission investigation must specify a “Baseline” mission and a
    “Performance Floor.” The Baseline mission is the mission that, if fully implemented,
    will accomplish the entire set of scientific objectives proposed for the investigation. Any
    alteration that results in a reduction of the mission’s ability to accomplish the Baseline set
    of scientific objectives as identified in the proposal will be considered a descoping of the
    investigation, and the resulting set of achievable scientific objectives must be reviewed to
    ensure that the investigation remains at or above the Performance Floor. The
    Performance Floor is the minimum science return below which the investigation will not
    be considered justified for the proposed cost.

The following schedule summaries the anticipated major milestones of this intended New
Frontiers AO:

AO Release August/September 2002
Preproposal Conference AO Release + 2 weeks
Notice of Intent Due AO Release + 4 weeks
Proposal Due AO Release + 90 days
Non-U.S. Letter of Endorsement Due Proposal Receipt + 30 days
Selections Announced (target) Proposal Receipt + 150 days
Concept Study Due 6 Months After Concept Study Kick-off
Downselection/confirmation for Flight 2 Months After Concept Study Receipt

Note that the New Frontiers AO may contain provisions that differ from this Announcement, in
which case those in the AO will take precedence. Questions or comments about this intention to
release a New Frontiers AO may be addressed to the NASA New Frontiers Program Scientist:
Dr. Thomas H. Morgan, New Frontiers Program Scientist, Solar System Exploration Division,
Code SE, Office of Space Science, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington,
DC 20546-0001; Facsimile: (202) 358-3097; E-mail:
; Telephone: (202)

SpaceRef staff editor.