Status Report

Commercial Interest and Capabilities to Meet NASA Balloon Program Requirements

By SpaceRef Editor
April 15, 2015
Filed under , ,

General Information

    Solicitation Number: SSS04152015

    Posted Date: Apr 15, 2015

    FedBizOpps Posted Date: Apr 15, 2015

    Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No

    Original Response Date: Apr 29, 2015

    Current Response Date: Apr 29, 2015

    Classification Code: R — Professional, administrative, and mgmt support services

    NAICS Code: 541330


Contracting Office Address

    NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 210.I, Greenbelt, MD 20771


    Notice Type: Request for Information Synopsis:

    As part of NASA’s strategic Technical Capabilities Assessment Team (TCAT) activities, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is seeking industry input on commercial interest and capability to meet NASA’s Balloon Program requirements in a new or revised business model to the current Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) approach. The NASA Balloon Program provides support for 15- 20 astrophysics, heliophysics, earth science, planetary, and educational flight project missions annually that are selected by NASA through a peer reviewed Announcement of Opportunity process. 

    Currently, the NASA Balloon Program requirements are met through a recently awarded contract for services that include operation and maintenance of the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) in Palestine, Texas, and engineering services to support the NASA Balloon Program. CSBF is a GOCO facility with a permanent balloon staging facility at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. The contract also provides operational balloon flight support including launching, tracking, and recovering scientific balloons and payloads, and provides engineering services for operational support, quality control, and balloon research and development. Contract services are performed at multiple locations including: the CSBF; the Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) located at Wallops Island VA; worldwide launch sites for operational campaigns which will include Antarctica, and may include Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden; and the contractor’s facility. 

    Industry is invited to provide their capabilities, input, and interest for NASA to consider by responding to the following questions: 

    1. Provide your corporate/commercial capabilities and past performance experience in high altitude scientific balloon services with the following characteristics: a. Balloon volumes of 4 million cubic feet (MCF) to 60 MCF b. Suspended weights from the balloon of 500 pounds to 8,000 pounds c. Total gross inflations of 1,000 pounds to 15,000 pounds d. Float altitudes of 100,000 feet to 160,000 feet e. Line of sight command and telemetry systems f. Satellite relay command and telemetry systems g. Rechargable power systems h. Coarse payload pointing capability (+/- 5 deg) i. Mission Durations: i. Zero Pressure (mid-latitude): 1-50+ hours ii. Zero Pressure (polar): 1 to 50+ days iii. Super Pressure: 1 to 14+ days j. Terminate / Recovery Systems k. Worldwide launch sites – including Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden l. Mission Outcome (Abort, Success, or Failure) Provide a brief description of your capabilities for characteristics a through k. In addition, provide detailed past performance information in a tabular format of all launch attempts, by date, including all of the requested characteristics above, a-l, at a minimum, for the past 5 years. If you have no experience for a particular characteristic, please indicate by “none” in the table. 

    2. Describe what your general workforce approach would be to support three to four separate campaigns worldwide each year as detailed in the recent Statement of Work for the NASA Balloon Operations Contract. Your description should indicate the skill mix and capabilities of your current workforce and your approach to augment, train, and certify additional personnel, if required. 

    3. Describe the current or potential customer base in the commercial market for high altitude scientific ballooning meeting the NASA Balloon Program characteristics listed in item 1. Your response should include the estimated proportion that NASA’s requirements would be of the overall business or market model. 

    4. Provide input on the viability of a fully or partially commercial approach for NASA’s Balloon Program versus the current GOCO approach. Your response should include a description of potential cost impacts to the Program. 

    5. Provide input on how a commercial model would be structured to provide for customer interaction/coordination and technical direction by scientists, principal investigator teams, and NASA. This response shall also include input on how a commercialized program model would need to be structured to incentivize overall scientific mission success for instruments and payloads developed by academia and others. 

    6. Describe the commercial or market conditions that would be necessary to sustain a viable commercial scientific balloon program, and the extent to which those conditions exist today, or are projected to exist in the near future. Please include any potential conditions or constraints that might be placed on NASA Balloon Program requirements or operational execution flexibility. Examples could include minimum purchase quantities, mission campaign commitments, need for government furnished equipment or property, etc. 

    7. Describe the commercial approach to public safety, liability, insurance, and assumption of risk, including the potential cost impact. 

    8. Finally, provide your company’s specific interest to propose a different business model to NASA from the current GOCO approach for NASA Balloon Program requirements. Please also provide your considerations to potentially propose a different model in a brief “Pro’s and Con’s” format. Limit your response to not more than 1 page each for items 2-8, above. The response to Item 1 is not page limited so all experience and capabilities for the program characteristics of item 1 can be addressed. If there is no capability or experience for a listed characteristic it should be so noted. The primary point of contact for questions related to this request for information is Caroline Massey. This request for information does not constitute a solicitation for proposal or a commitment by the Government. Interested parties are responsible for monitoring the Internet site for information updates (if any). The current Balloon Program requirements are provided as background information for this request for information. These documents will reside on a World Wide Web (WWW) server, which may be accessed using a WWW browser application. The internet site, or URL, for the NASA Business Opportunities home page is:

    All responses shall be submitted to Caroline R. Massey, no later than Close of business April 29, 2015. All inquiries shall be to Caroline R. Massey, at email address above. Any additional questions contact Ms Massey at (757) 824-1959 

Point of Contact

    Name:Mickey Mantle Merritt

    Title:Contracting Officer




    Name:Mickey Mantle Merritt

    Title:Contracting Officer





SpaceRef staff editor.