Status Report

NASA ARC Solicitation: SOFIA Science and Mission Operations Support

By SpaceRef Editor
October 12, 2015
Filed under , , ,

General Information

Notice Type: Sources Sought
Posted Date: October 9, 2015
Response Date: October 29, 2015
Archiving Policy: Automatic, on specified date
Archive Date: October 9, 2016
Original Set Aside: N/A
Set Aside: N/A
Classification Code:M — Operation of Government-owned facilities
NAICS Code: 541 — Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services/541712 — Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)

Solicitation Number: NNA16ZPX001L
Notice Type: Sources Sought
Synopsis: Added: Oct 09, 2015 3:33 pm

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center (ARC) is hereby soliciting information about potential sources for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Science and Mission Operations (SMO) support contract. This is a follow-on to contract NAS2-97001, with Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

SOFIA is an airborne astronomical observatory consisting of a 2.5-m aperture telescope permanently installed in a specially modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. The observatory, with its open port telescope provided through a partnership with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), provides routine access to nearly all of the visible, infrared, far infrared, and sub-millimeter parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. SOFIA’s primary mission is to conduct high-quality, high-impact, cutting-edge research in astronomy, astrophysics, and planetary astronomy in a safe and cost effective manner. The observatory is able to directly incorporate new or upgraded instruments over its lifetime.

The SOFIA Program is executed jointly at two NASA centers. Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) is responsible for flight operations and maintenance of the SOFIA aircraft. The aircraft is based in Palmdale, California. Flight operations and maintenance are not within scope of this procurement. Program and science management is at Ames Research Center (ARC) at Moffett Field, California; ARC is also responsible for science support required onsite at AFRC. Science support at AFRC that is within scope of this procurement includes maintenance of the SOFIA primary mirror-coating chamber and integration of science instruments onto the observatory.

SOFIA consists of the observatory and mission support systems. The observatory includes the Airborne System and the Science Instruments (both Facility Instruments for general observations, as well as Principal Investigator instruments). The Airborne System consists of the Aircraft, Telescope Assembly, and Mission Command & Control System. The ground-based mission support systems include the SOFIA Science Center (SSC) at Ames, and the SOFIA Operations Center (SOC) located at the Armstrong Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale. The SOC provides housing and maintenance capabilities for the observatory (including the mirror coating chamber) along with science instrument preparation and checkout facilities.

SOFIA conducts approximately 100 science flights and produces nominally 800 research hours annually. This translates to nominally 8 or more hours of science per flight, with a flight rate of approximately 3 nights per week, with several weeks per year dedicated to aircraft maintenance.

SOFIA carries out a science program defined by peer review of community-based observing proposals. Additionally, SOFIA guarantees observations for instrument developers and conducts a limited number of discretionary investigations defined by the SOFIA Science Mission Operations Director.

Long term plans anticipate the observatory could operate through May 2034.

The SMO support contract requirements are anticipated to include, but are not limited to, the following:

Manage, plan, and execute science and mission operations for SOFIA to meet NASA mission objectives including:

Perform the annual SOFIA Call For Proposals and Proposal solicitation and award processes for each yearly observation cycle,

Plan flight missions for each yearly observation cycle,

Provide qualified staff for the planning and execution of science mission operations consistent with a nominal and sustained flight rate of approximately 100 flights per year and nominally 3 flights per week during mission operations. Science missions fly only at night.

Top-level science flight duties for on-board SMO personnel typically include:

Science Instrument Operator: Operate facility class instruments to acquire science data per awarded time of selected proposals,

Mission Director: Science/Flight/Observatory Team coordination,

Telescope Operators: Science target acquisition, telescope operation,

Execute science flight missions. Example duties are:

Flight preparation of the science instrument(s),

Pre/post flight check-out of on-board mission systems,

Science flight plan development, extract science data and deliver to archive,

Post-flight reports.

Provide qualified scientific staff to:

Plan and execute (for SMO staff and science targets) annual six-week southern hemisphere deployments to Christchurch, New Zealand. (NASA is responsible for overall planning for the deployment),

Operate and maintain SOFIAs suite of four facility science instruments,

Process and calibrate all facility instrument science data,

Manage the archive for all SOFIA science data,

Manage pipeline software for four facility science instruments,

Provide SOFIA Guest Investigator support,

Maintain reflectivity of the SOFIA Primary mirror (routine cleanings, re-coat if necessary),

Maintain and operate all science and mission operations equipment and software that are used in performing the SOFIA mission. Examples include: Observatory Simulation Labs, SOFIA Data Archive, Mirror Coating Facility, Flight Planning and Scheduling Tools, Science Instrument Laboratory,

Provide NASA with science and mission operations reports that assess performance to requirements,

Provide support to observatory improvement testing and observatory check-out,

Perform SOFIA science outreach and public engagement functions.

NASA/ARC is seeking capability statements from all interested parties, including Small, Small Disadvantaged (SDB), 8(a), Woman-owned (WOSB), Veteran Owned (VOSB), Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SD-VOSB), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) businesses, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)/Minority Institutions (MI) for the purposes of determining the appropriate level of competition and/or small business subcontracting goals for SOFIA SMO Support Contract. The Government reserves the right to consider a Small, 8(a), Woman-owned (WOSB), Service Disabled Veteran (SD-VOSB), or HUBZone business set-aside based on responses hereto.

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.

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 offerors responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of any solicitation or synopsis. Vendors having the capabilities necessary to meet or exceed the stated requirements are invited to submit appropriate documentation, literature, brochures, and references.

Responses must include the following: name and address of firm, size of business; average annual revenue for past 3 years and number of employees; ownership; whether they are large, or any category of small business, number of years in business.

Responses must also include a one to five page (maximum) summary describing your organizations experience and capabilities to meet or exceed the stated anticipated requirements as they relate to providing science and mission operations support for the SOFIA program.

Responses are requested to include affiliate and customer information: parent company, joint venture partners, potential teaming partners, prime contractor (if potential sub) or subcontractors (if potential prime); list of customers covering the past five years (highlight relevant work performed, contract numbers, contract type, dollar value of each procurement; and point of contact – address and phone number).

ARC is soliciting suggestions on contracting approaches to this effort that will enhance competition and provide opportunities for small business. Therefore, we are also requesting feedback in any or all of the following areas for consideration during acquisition planning: 1. For small businesses that cannot perform the entire scope of effort stated above, indicate what portion(s) of this scope your company could perform. 2. Socio-economic considerations are a priority at ARC. Given the general scope of work stated above, please submit suggested percentages and types of the proposed requirements that could be subcontracted to each of the following types of businesses: Small Business concerns, Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) concerns, Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) concerns, HUBZone Small Business concerns, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) (includes other minority institutions), Veteran-Owned Small Business concerns, and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business concerns. This information may be used to establish subcontracting goals for any future procurement. 3. Besides Past Performance and Price, what other evaluation factors, if any, do you believe should be included in the RFP, and why? 4. Does the selection of NAICS code 541712 seem appropriate? If not, what alternative NAICS code do you suggest, and why? 5. NASA support service contracts generally have a five-year period of performance. What combination of base period and options do you recommend for the duration of the contract, and why?

Please advise if the requirement is considered to be a commercial or commercial-type product. A commercial item is defined in FAR 2.101.

Information about major upcoming ARC procurement actions is available at http://ec.msfc.nasa .gov/cgi-bin/eis/admin/admin.cgi?center=ARC . Click on ARC.

All responses shall be submitted to Jeffrey S. Brown no later than October 29, 2015. Please reference NNA16ZPX001L in any response.

Questions about this notice may be submitted in writing to by October 16, 2015. As appropriate, questions and responses will be posted for all interested parties.

Any referenced notes may be viewed at the following URLs linked below.

Additional Info:
Click here for the latest information about this notice
Contracting Office Address:
NASA/Ames Research Center, JA:M/S 241-1, Moffett Field, CA 94035-0001
Point of Contact(s):
Jeffrey S. Brown, Contracting Officer, Phone 650-604-4696, Fax 650-604-0912, Email

Jeffrey S. Brown

SpaceRef staff editor.