Status Report

NASA Community Announcement on Astrophysics Explorer Missions of Opportunity

By SpaceRef Editor
June 20, 2012
Filed under , ,

NNH12ZDA011J
June 19, 2012

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is releasing this Community Announcement concerning its intention to solicit investigations for the Astrophysics Explorers program element of the Explorer Program. The Explorer Program conducts Principal Investigator (PI)-led space science investigations in SMD’s astrophysics and heliophysics programs. Astrophysics Explorer investigations are intended to discover the origin, structure, evolution, and destiny of the Universe and search for Earth-like planets. Additional information concerning these areas of investigation is provided through appropriate links found on the SMD home page at http://nasascience.nasa.gov/ .

The current state of planning calls for NASA SMD to release in the late summer/early fall of 2012 a solicitation for Astrophysics Explorer Missions of Opportunity (MO) as a program element appendix amended to the NASA Announcement of Opportunity NNH12ZDA006O, Second Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity Notice (SALMON-2) that will solicit proposals to accomplish astrophysics Explorer Program science objectives. A draft program element appendix will not be released.

NASA expects to solicit MO science investigations that are defined in the SALMON-2 AO as Partner MOs, New Missions Using Existing Spacecraft, or Small Complete Mission MOs, including investigations requiring flight on Ultra-Long Duration Balloons (ULDB) or the International Space Station. Partner MOs for which the parent mission is either of ESA’s Euclid or JUICE missions are not solicited in this call.

The PI-managed mission cost cap for an Explorer MO is expected to be no greater than $60M, or $30M for an ULDB mission, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 dollars. The currently approved Explorer Program planning budget is sufficient to select and execute one MO at $60M, or two MOs if both are ULDB missions or other proposed investigations well below the $60M PI-managed cost cap.

It is anticipated that the policies in the solicitation will be similar to the policies in the most recent Explorer Mission of Opportunity solicitation, which was released on November 1, 2010, as Appendix H7 of the SALMON AO (NNH08ZDA009O) with the following exception. For ULDB missions, the balloon and standard balloon services will be provided by NASA and will not be considered within the PI-managed cost cap.

At the same time, NASA anticipates releasing an amendment to the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences 2012 (ROSES-12) NASA Research Announcement (NRA) that solicits proposals for U.S. Participating Investigators that accomplish astrophysics science objectives.

The current planning is for the selection process to be done in one step with no competitive downselect.

Proposals in response to this AO will be due 90 days after its formal release. Participation will be open to all categories of U.S. and non-U.S. organizations, including educational institutions, industry, not-for-profit organizations, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, NASA Centers, and other Government agencies.

The schedule for the solicitation is intended to be:

Release of AO: Late summer/early fall 2012 (target);
Preproposal conference: ~2 weeks after AO release;
Proposals due: 90 days after AO release;
Selection: Late spring 2013 (target);

The SALMON-2 amendment may contain provisions that differ substantially from this preliminary notice, in which case the provisions in the SALMON-2 amendment will take precedence.

NASA has not approved the issuance of the SALMON-2 amendment and this notification does not obligate NASA to issue the announcement and solicit proposals. Any costs incurred by prospective investigators in preparing submissions in response to this announcement are incurred completely at the submitter’s own risk.

Further information will be posted on the Explorer Program Acquisition web site at http://soma.larc.nasa.gov/astrophysics/index as that information becomes available. Questions or comments about this intention to release a SALMON-2 appendix may be addressed in writing or by E-mail to the Astrophysics Explorer Program Scientist: Dr. Wilton T. Sanders, Ref.: Explorer MO, Astrophysics Division, Mail Suite 3W39, Science Mission Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC 20546-0001, E-mail: [email protected] (subject line to read “Astrophysics Explorer MO”).

Responses to all inquiries will be answered by E-mail and also posted weekly at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) location of the Explorer Program Acquisition web site; anonymity of persons/institutions who submit questions will be preserved.

SpaceRef staff editor.