Status Report

NASA Opportunity Notice to Participate in Centennial Challenges Program As An Allied Organization

By SpaceRef Editor
December 20, 2013
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – Dec 19, 2013

General Information

    Solicitation Number: NNH14STMD001L

    Posted Date: Dec 19, 2013

    FedBizOpps Posted Date: Dec 19, 2013

    Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No

    Original Response Date: Dec 01, 2014

    Current Response Date: Dec 01, 2014

    Classification Code: A — Research and Development

    NAICS Code: 541712

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Headquarters Acquisition Branch, Code 210.H, Greenbelt, MD 20771



This Opportunity Notice (hereinafter “NOTICE”) is for informational/planning purposes only and the Government will not pay for the information received. This NOTICE is NOT to be construed as a commitment by the government to enter into any agreement or other obligation or to conduct a prize competition.

This NOTICE is issued in accordance with the NASA Prize Authority, 51 U.S.C. S 20144.

I. INTRODUCTION New concepts for NASA prize competitions are sought for the Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Centennial Challenges Program, NASA’s flagship program for technology prize competitions. NASA anticipates the ability in 2015 and beyond, to initiate several new technology prize competitions (hereinafter “Challenges”). Through this NOTICE NASA seeks to identify potential partner organizations (hereinafter “Allied Organizations”) and concepts for Challenge competitions they are interested in conducting (Challenge Concept).

NASA will provide the monetary prize purse that is awarded to competition winners. NASA will not provide any funds or cost reimbursement to an Allied Organization for their work on a Challenge. Allied Organizations may administer a Challenge with their own funding or they may acquire the funding from other parties.

Organizations interested in becoming an Allied Organization should submit a response describing the Challenge Concept that they wish to pursue with NASA. Details on the essential capabilities of Allied Organizations and desired characteristics of Challenge Concepts are provided in Section V and Section VI of this NOTICE respectively. A complete submission as detailed in Section VIII is required for each Challenge Concept.

NASA will only consider submissions that include both 1) a Challenge Concept and 2) institutional capability and interest in being an Allied Organization.

Based upon a review of the capabilities of the proposed Allied Organization and the merit of the proposed Challenge Concept, NASA may consider partnerships with several proposed Allied Organizations to pursue their proposed Challenges. Participation in a Challenge as an Allied Organization will be contingent upon selection by NASA and negotiation of an appropriate Nonreimbursable Space Act Agreement between NASA and the proposer.

Respondents acknowledge that submitting a Challenge Concept in response to this NOTICE does not preclude NASA from using such concept, or similar concepts, in a future Challenge hosted by another Allied Organization.


Under 51 U.S.C. S 20144, NASA is only allowed to partner with private, domestic, U.S. non-profit organizations as Allied Organizations for Challenges of the type described by this Notice. Organizations of any type, and individuals, may collaborate and submit a joint response describing their support of a designated private, domestic, U.S. non-profit organization that would lead the Challenge effort as the Allied Organization.

Neither Allied Organizations, their collaborators, nor employees, associates nor students associated with the proposing institutions will be eligible to win a prize funded by NASA in a Challenge that they manage. Allied Organizations, collaborators, and their officers and employees may not have a financial or other interest in any teams that compete in any Challenge they manage.


A Nonreimbursable Space Act Agreement (SAA) will specify the contributions and responsibilities of NASA and the Allied Organization for further development of a specific Challenge Concept.

The agreement will address intellectual property rights, concurrence on rules, team agreements, media rights, insurance, registration fees and eligibility, term, and related areas as well as other requirements imposed by 51 U.S.C. S 20144 and applicable law. NASA reserves the right to select for SAA negotiations all, some, or none of the responses submitted to this NOTICE, and in the event no responses are selected, NASA reserves the right to post an additional NOTICE or NOTICES with respect to new Challenges. Respondents will be responsible for funding their own activities associated with responding to this NOTICE, as well as further developing and conducting a Challenge. Allied Organizations may collect reasonable registration fees from competitors but the use of registration fees as a primary means to cover Challenge administration costs is discouraged.

For additional information regarding Space Act Agreements, see NASA Policy Directive 1050.1 “Authority to Enter into Space Act Agreements” ( ).


The NASA Centennial Challenges Program was established to conduct prize competitions to stimulate innovation in basic and applied research, technology development, and prototype demonstration that have the potential for application to the performance of the space and aeronautical activities of NASA. Those competing for the NASA monetary prizes can be individuals, independent teams, student groups, research organizations or private companies.

The Program seeks unconventional solutions from non-traditional sources and, therefore may lead to identifying new talent and stimulating the creation of new businesses. Competitors retain ownership of their intellectual property.

To be eligible to win a NASA Centennial Challenge prize, an individual or entity– (1) shall have registered to participate in the competition pursuant to any rules promulgated by NASA; (2) shall have complied with all the rules of the competition and requirements of applicable law; (3) in the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States; and (4) shall not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment.

The Centennial Challenges in the past have typically required several annual competitions to occur before the total prize purses have been claimed. Competitions have been conducted in a first-to-demonstrate format and in a head-to-head contest format. The competition events, especially in the head-to-head contest format, have typically involved public spectators, televised or webcasted coverage and are utilized as high-visibility opportunities for public outreach. Additional information can be found at


Allied Organizations will be responsible for some, or all, of the following during the formulation and execution phases:

    * Challenge planning 

    * Challenge formulation and execution funding 

    * Competitor recruitment and registration 

    * Challenge administration and execution 

    * Challenge marketing and publicity


NASA is seeking ideas for technology demonstration competitions that address major issues leading to new aerospace capabilities. Competitions will involve technology development and prototype demonstrations. This NOTICE is for formulation of new prize competitions with prize purses up to $10M. Solution to the challenge should be achievable within a 10-year time frame and motivate a substantial number of competitors. Large prize and long term challenges may be submitted as phased competitions with lower value and short time frames. Technology advancement is a key requirement; technology advancements in any area that improves NASA’s ability to perform future missions will be an important consideration. However, not all technology advancement efforts fit well under the construct of a prize competition. The following are the characteristics of an ideal Challenge Concept for the Centennial Challenges Program:

1) Demonstrates a new capability that addresses a NASA technical challenge included in the Space Technology Roadmaps [ ] or aligns with the NASA aeronautics research portfolio ( ), 2) Has future application beyond potential NASA missions, including both aerospace and non-aerospace applications. 3) Achieves a first-time accomplishment that establishes the existence of a solution to a well-defined problem, and opens a potential new market. 4) Does not replicate work developed under current or past grant or contract activities, or private sector investments. The challenge should involve the type of activity that is not easily achieved through grant or contract, such as efforts that will require successive design attempts to achieve the desired capabilities. 5) Is open to many possible solutions. 6) Creates an exciting opportunity for potential competitors and attracts a diverse set of non-traditional aerospace players and/or non-traditional competitor partnerships. 7) Is easy to objectively determine the winner with the resulting achievement of high value relative to the prize value. 8) Captures public attention with a competition environment appealing to media coverage and public engagement.

One area of particular interest is technology advancement Challenges that addresses the Asteroid Grand Challenge ( ). Under this NOTICE NASA is not seeking ideas that are primarily for educational or for public engagement purposes.


Submissions will be judged based upon the Challenge Concept and Team Capability and as described below.

A. Concepts will be judged on the degree of alignment of the Challenge Concept to the eight characteristics of an ideal solution as provided in Section VI, and compliance with the $10M prize limit and 10 year duration limit. B. Team Capability Capabilities of the proposed Allied Organization and team partners will be judged on 1) experience of the organization and team partners in similar or analogous activities that demonstrate competence, integrity, commitment to safety, and ability to work cooperatively in partnering arrangements and 2) the capability administer the proposed Challenge and competition events including the ability to: a) formulate and finalize competition rules, judging criteria, and competition plans in consultation with NASA and with appropriate public comment. b) access technical expertise in the area of the Challenge and select qualified and impartial judges. c) access funds and other resources required to successfully execute Challenge requirements. d) secure appropriate competition venues and supporting equipment. e) publicize and promote the goals of the proposed Challenge through creative use of public media including websites.

A selection, if any, will be in NASA’s sole discretion.


Responses to this NOTICE should be prepared in two sections. The Challenge Concept section should be no more than 5 pages in length. The Team Capability section should be no more than 15 pages (not including any letters of intent/interest from potential sponsoring or partner organizations). A page is defined as one (1) sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches using a minimum of 12-point font size for text and 8-point for graphs. Responses may be made available for public review and should not include proprietary information. Submitted information will be shared within NASA and with contractor personnel associated with the NASA Centennial Challenges Program.

The response shall consist of:

Page 1: Cover page including:

– Name of the Centennial Challenge addressed by proposal. – Date of submission. – Name of Lead Organization. – Business mailing address and phone number of organization. – Web site of organization (if applicable). – Name, business mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number of primary officer of the organization having authority to enter into a Space Act Agreement with NASA – Name, business mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number of organization’s point-of-contact for the proposal (if different from primary officer). – Name of Team organization(s) (if a joint proposal). – Business mailing address and phone number of Team organization(s). – Web site of Team organization(s) (if applicable). – Name, business mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number of primary officer of the Team organizations having authority to enter into an Agreement with the Lead Organization

Page 2-6: Section 1 – Challenge Concept: Explain your Challenge Concept by addressing these questions:

A. What’s the Challenge Concept? In two sentences or less provide the high-level objective for what the challenge would seek to demonstrate and outcome to be achieved.

B. Why should NASA sponsor this challenge?

1. What capability would be developed or what NASA Aeronautics or Space Technology Roadmap problem would be solved that would be of benefit to NASA? Why is this important?

2. Who are the NASA and non-NASA stakeholders that would have interest in the outcome of this challenge?

3. What could be the benefit to other government users or the U.S private sector? Is there a potential for commercial market utilization? What is the potential for new markets created by solution of the challenge problem?

4. What, if any, current national/international efforts are going on that are directly related? Is the challenge connected to or supportive of any other existing programs or efforts by NASA, the US government or its partner organizations?

5. Describe the current state-of-the-art capability in the problem area and the improvement in capability that is required or desired in order to achieve a viable new capability. Describe multiple potential technology or approach solutions to the problem. What would be a meaningful technical advancement? Describe why the problem is more suited towards a challenge as opposed to a contract or grant call.

6. Describe the pool of potential competitors that might be attracted to the competition, especially focus on non-traditional aerospace participants (those that typically do not respond to a NASA contract or grants call), and partnerships.

7. Describe how the objective goals of the challenge would be measured. Describe the challenge event itself and how open it would be for objective observation of winners. Also describe the value proposition, or relative value of the final achievement compared to the prize purse offered.

8. Describe the public appeal of the challenge. Describe the expected media interest and media accessibility (visual, audio, etc.) for the actual challenge event.

C. What would the challenge competition look like?

1. Would this be held as a head-to-head competition or a first to demonstrate competition?

2. Would the competition need to be phased (different levels of prizes) or would there be only one phase?

3. What facility capabilities would be needed? Would NASA conduct the challenge competition or would NASA partner with a nonprofit organization?

4. What parameters would need to be measured and how would they be measured?

5. What prize purse is needed to attract a significant number (>10) of participants? How would you determine if this is sufficient?

6. What prize purse should be offered to the winner?

Page 7-21: Section 2 – Team Capabilities Briefly describe your organization(s), including history, primary activities, interests, capabilities, and financial and personnel resources. Include experience of the organization(s) that is similar or analogous to the proposed Challenge development and administration, and that demonstrates competence, integrity, commitment to safety and ability to work cooperatively in partnering arrangements as contemplated by the Notice. Provide an organization chart identifying key personnel to the proposed effort. Provide as supporting documentation (not counted in page count) the relevant experience of key individuals. Identify the person with primary responsibility for development of the Challenge and the anticipated level of effort. Describe your organization’s interest in the Challenge that you are proposing to develop and your reasons for wanting to manage it.

Describe your approach to formulating the Challenge including:

a. development of the draft rules and concept of operations for the Challenge competition. b. plans to encourage the participation of individuals, groups, students, and businesses, especially those outside the traditional aerospace industry and those from minority and under-represented communities so as to attract a diverse field of competitors with wide geographic distribution. Any inherent limitations on the number of potential competitors. c. concepts for judging criteria, and your approach to developing competition plans, the areas of technical expertise you will need for the Challenge, how you will access that expertise, and your approach for identifying and selecting judges. d. use of public media including websites, social networking tools, and media coverage prior to, during, and after the competition reporting competition results to NASA and to the public. e. Formulation phase timeline of key milestone referenced to the start of the Space Act Agreement.

Describe the financial resources that your organization has or proposes to obtain through sponsorships or in-kind contributions to conduct this proposed Challenge.

SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS All responses to this NOTICE, must be submitted in a single PDF file as an attachment to an electronic mail message to no later than 11:59 PM, Eastern Standard Time, December 21, 2013. Paper and FAX submissions will not be reviewed or considered.

GENERAL INFORMATION After the review and selection process NASA will notify proposers of the results. This is generally a few months after submissions are received. After the completion of the evaluation and selection process, as appropriate, NASA will begin negotiations with selected organizations to discuss and negotiate the terms and conditions of a Nonreimbursable SAA. All work, as required, will commence after the parties agree on and execute the SAA. This typically takes 2-3 months after selection.

IV. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The point of contact is Dr. Larry Cooper, Program Executive, Centennial Challenges Program, NASA Headquarters 300 E Street SW, Washington DC 20546-0001. Questions regarding this NOTICE should be directed to Dr. Larry Cooper, Program Executive for Centennial Challenges, Space Technology Mission Directorate; For further information on the NASA Centennial Challenges Program see: .

Point of Contact

    Name: Dr Larry P Cooper

    Title: Program Executive for Centennial Challenges

    Phone: 202-358-1531

    Fax: 202-358-3223


SpaceRef staff editor.