Status Report

NASA MSFC RFI: Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion Demonstration Mission

By SpaceRef Editor
August 28, 2010
Filed under , ,
NASA MSFC RFI: Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion Demonstration Mission

Synopsis – Aug 27, 2010

General Information

Solicitation Number: 08272010PS21
Posted Date: Aug 27, 2010
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Aug 27, 2010
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Sep 08, 2010
Current Response Date: Sep 08, 2010
Classification Code: A — Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712 – Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)

Contracting Office Address

NASA/George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Procurement Office, Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812


I. Introduction

NASA MSFC is seeking a partner capable of providing a spacecraft bus as a part of a technology development proposal team. Responses to this RFI will provide information necessary for the selection of spacecraft providing partners for the proposal team in late Summer/early Fall 2010.

This RFI seeks input from vendors with experience and facilities for designing, fabricating, and integrating Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites. Vendors must be able to provide low risk, highly reliable design solutions and have a history of successfully delivering spacecraft bus systems to support Flight projects.

The following capabilities are deemed critical:

* Spacecraft bus management/development
* Subcontract management
* Quality management
* Safety management
* Systems Engineering
* Spacecraft bus fabrication and test
* Interface and Interface Control Document (ICD) development
* Instrument package integration and test support
* Functional and environmental testing
* Coordination of shipment to the launch site
* Launch vehicle integration support
* Launch and early orbit checkout operations
* On-orbit operation
* Sustaining engineering
* Flight software maintenance
* Flight experience with LEO missions

The MSFC team is currently considering two mission hardware integration options:

A. Spacecraft Bus Only

Design, development, and delivery of verified Spacecraft Bus and Ground Support Equipment (GSE) to integration site (TBD). Spacecraft Bus may be a Host plus End Mass or be two very similar buses. Provide support during system integration, verification, launch operations, and on-orbit performance verification activities.

B. Spacecraft Bus plus System Integration

As in A above but includes the analytical and physical integration of tether specific subsystems (tether and deployer, high voltage power subsystem, instrument packages, etc.) and integrated system functional and environmental testing (with potential support from MSFC test facilities as required).

II. Mission Description and Preliminary Requirements

Responses to this RFI shall be commensurate with the requirements for the Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion Demonstration mission described below and the Guide for RFI (Attachment 1). These requirements are preliminary and are to be used as an example for the purpose of responding to this RFI.

The Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion Demonstration mission’s primary objective is to demonstrate predictable and controlled orbital maneuvering (orbital altitude change and inclination change) using an electrodynamic tether propulsion system.

The Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion Demonstration mission is currently envisioned to consist of the Host Vehicle and End Mass Vehicle (which could be very similar), the tether and tether deployment mechanisms that connect the two vehicles, high voltage power supplies and electronics subsystem, and instrument packages.

Table 1 shows a rough breakdown of anticipated system masses.

Host 340 kg End Mass 165 kg Tether 10 kg Launch Vehicle Adaptor 20 kg Table 1 System Masses

* Nominal Operational life: 18 months
* Nominal Orbit Altitude Range: 400 km to 800 km
* Orbit: 28.5 – 45 degree inclination
* Spacecraft bus must be capable of automated fault detection and protection (failure, detection, isolation, and recovery capabilities)
* Spacecraft bus must meet the NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris (NPR 8715.6A) and NASA Process for Limiting Orbital Debris (NASA-STD-8719.14)

III. Required Spacecraft Bus Capabilities

1. Accommodate Science Instruments Package a. Selected instrumentation will be accommodated in both Host Vehicle and End Mass.

2. Accommodate Tether and Tether Deployer

3. Accommodate High Voltage Tether System Power Supplies and Electronics that must be integrated with spacecraft power system electrical ground and structure.

4. Provide Attitude Control for both Host Vehicle and End Mass a. Assumed to be reaction wheels with magnetic desaturation. b. Operational modes will include Host and End Mass vehicles attached, spacecraft separated with tether deploying, separated and tether fully deployed, and possible end-of-mission scenario with either spacecraft separated from the tether (TBD).

5. Provide Electrical Power System for both Host Vehicle and End Mass a. Assumed to be batteries and solar arrays. b. Body mounted solar array is preferable, but please describe capabilities for deployable arrays.

6. Provide Communications and Data Handling. a. Nominally X-band downlink in Host and S-band Cross Link Transceiver in Host Vehicle and End Mass.

7. Provide Flight Computer in both Host Vehicle and End Mass.

8. Provide Global Positioning System (GPS) (minimum) in both Host Vehicle and End Mass capable of more precise “relative-GPS” position knowledge.

9. Provide Thermal Control System. a. Assumed cold-biased thermal with MLI, heaters, and passive radiators.

10. Launch Vehicle a. Please recommend a launch vehicle and approach capable of minimizing total system costs while maximizing mission success. The anticipation is that the launch vehicle will be in the Falcon 1e, Minotaur IV or V class. b. Assume the launch vehicle shall be a US launch vehicle. c. In selecting a launch vehicle, the vendor shall maintain a minimum mass margin of 30 % between the mission system mass and the launch vehicle’s lift capability to the specified orbit.

IV. Summary

The information obtained will be used by NASA for planning and acquisition strategy development. This RFI is being used to obtain information for planning purposes only. The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this RFI or to otherwise pay for the information solicited. As stipulated in FAR 52.215-3, (a) The Government does not intend to award a contract on the basis of this solicitation or to otherwise pay for the information solicited except as an allowable cost under other contracts as provided in subsection 31.205-18, Bid and proposal costs, of the Federal Acquisition Regulation. (b) Although “proposal” and “offeror” are used in this Request for Information, your response will be treated as information only. It shall not be used as a proposal. Inputs shall be compliant with all legal and regulatory requirements concerning limitations on export controlled items.

Attachment 1


Please provide information on the spacecraft bus that meets the above requirements and accommodates the Tether specific subsystems. The response shall be organized into the following sections.

Section 1 – Description of proposed spacecraft bus including spacecraft configuration, hardware capabilities, redundancies, instrument accommodation, accommodation in launch vehicle, deployments, attitude control methodology, command and data flow.

Section 2 – Description of the reliability of the proposed bus including: margins and redundancies methodology, fault detection and protection, potential risks and mitigations, any new designs and associated risks.

Section 3 – Description of the proposed spacecraft bus heritage and experience with previous flight projects (special information that shows experience and/or understanding of space tether systems is especially desired).

Section 4 – Description of the assembly, integration, test and launch operations approach for the spacecraft bus and integrated system levels. Any differences from the contractors normal test flow should be identified and described.

Section 5 – ROM cost estimates for heritage spacecraft system of similar size and performance characteristics.

All responses should be provided in PDF format via electronic media. Responses should not exceed 15 pages total. When responding please reference: RFI08272010PS21

Please submit responses no later than September 8, 2010, to NASA/MSFC Office of Procurement, PS21/Lizette Kummer, Contracting Officer, via e-mail at Additional questions should also be provided to Lizette Kummer via e-mail.

Point of Contact

Name: Lizette M Kummer
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 256-544-3457
Fax: 256-544-5028

Name: Lizette M Kummer
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 256-544-3457
Fax: 256-544-5028

SpaceRef staff editor.