Status Report

NASA MSFC Solicitation: Testing and Analysis of Propulsion Systems Materials

By SpaceRef Editor
March 31, 2013
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – Mar 20, 2013

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNM13ZEM001
Posted Date: Mar 20, 2013
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Mar 20, 2013
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Apr 04, 2013
Current Response Date: Apr 04, 2013
Classification Code: B — Special studies and analysis – not R and D
NAICS Code: 541380

Contracting Office Address

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


NASA/MSFC has a requirement for testing of materials such as carbon phenolic and graphite phenolic materials and carbon/carbon, ceramic, insulation, ceramic matrix composite, and advanced and polymer composite materials supporting propulsion and space transportation applications.

NASA/MSFC intends to purchase the services from Southern Research Institute (SRI), Birmingham, Alabama, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 which implements the authority for 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1) for acquisition of supplies or services from only one source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements. Competition is impractical for the following reasons:

1. This effort involves the testing of materials and the generation of testing data that are used in human-rated propulsion systems, which is critical in the mitigation of risks associated with the operation of those systems. Due to the nature of the effort required, SRI is the only known source with the capability to generate test results with demonstrated reliability (i.e., repeatability, accuracy, and resolution) at extreme and typically non-standard testing conditions such as high temperature testing up to 5000 degrees F. SRI is the only known source that can provide the unique combination of data understanding (i.e., failure mechanisms, component and specimen processing, specimen testing conditions, specimen design, component operation conditions, and data history), reliability, and component design accuracy to enable the most efficient and effective operating system to meet NASA’s goals, thus allowing for the safest system. SRI uniquely provides an ability to obtain maximum data understanding, data reliability, and design accuracy, using a unique combination of properties, such as tensile, compression, flexure strengths, in-plane shear strength with 45 degree; tension, and in-plane shear strength with 45 degree; compression configurations for composites and monolithic ceramic materials at temperatures greater than 5000 degrees F. Only SRI has demonstrated they can generate specific heat data, unrestrained electrical conductivity data, thermal expansion data, Rumanian in-plane shear data, saddle in-plane shear data, and torsional in-plane shear data, creep with a circumferential coupon data, interlaminar shear data, double notch shear data, and tensile creep data at temperatures greater than 4600 degrees F, as well as fatigue data at a frequency of greater than 500 Hz, load ratio of 0.1, and temperature of 1800 degrees F. Only SRI has demonstrated they can generate biaxial tension-tension and compression-torsion testing data from -250 degrees F to 1500 degrees F, among other testing capabilities. This unique combination of data understanding, reliability, and component design accuracy is necessary for NASA to produce and operate these human-rated propulsion systems with the most accurate hardware designs and design safety margin.

2. SRI is the only known source with the capability to provide a test of elevated temperature permeability with the specimen under a tensile or compressive load. Further, SRI is the only firm with analog test capability which has been used to develop unique data to develop and validate thermal models for RSRMV nozzle ablative liners. This unique data generated by SRI from room temperature to 5000 degrees F is the only data validated to model the RSRMV and 1st stage SLS nozzle ablative material. All of the ablative nozzle data used for thermo-structural analytical models to support demonstration, qualification, flight and flight anomaly investigation has been generated by SRI. The restrained thermal growth test developed by and available exclusively from SRI is also necessary in characterizing and modeling next generation nozzle materials for the RSRMV and 1st stage SLS.

3. SRI is the only organization that has developed a material property database from room temperature to 5000 degrees F on the graphite throat used in the Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Booster Separation Motor (BSM) and the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) Launch Abort System (LAS) Jettison Motor (JM). This database is used in the thermo-structural analysis used for BSM and JM. SRI provided test and failure analysis on the prior BSM throat factor safety investigation and will generate the database for the new graphite material currently being qualified for the BSM built by ATK Thiokol and the JM built by Aerojet. Use of the BSM is expected to continue for the SLS / MPCV system and continued access to SRI expertise is necessary.

4. SRI is the only organization that has developed a material property database for the cryogenic foam previously used on the Shuttle External Tank and currently anticipated to be utilized on the SLS Core Stage. This data provides both understanding of the characteristics governing the foam loss (and resultant shuttle orbiter tile damage) and supports the only thermo-structural analysis model of the cryogenic foam known to exist. This unique expertise and understanding of this critical material system is available in no other organization and is essential in support of MSFC efforts to develop a similar but more sustainable foam thermal protection system for SLS.

The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12.

Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort in writing to no later than 4:30 p.m. CST on April 4, 2013. Such capabilities/qualifications will be evaluated solely for the purpose of determining whether or not to conduct this procurement on a competitive basis. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed effort on a full and open competition basis, based upon responses to this notice, is solely within the discretion of the government.

Oral communications are not acceptable in response to this notice.

All responsible sources may submit an offer which shall be considered by the agency.

NASA Clause 1852.215-84, Ombudsman, is applicable. The Center Ombudsman for this acquisition can be found at .

Point of Contact

Name: Charles A. Holt
Title: Contract Specialist
Phone: 256-544-2088
Fax: 256-544-6560

Name: Janice P. Burrough
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 256-544-0317
Fax: 256-544-5861

SpaceRef staff editor.