Status Report

NASA Presolicitation Notice: Development of an Early Flight Fission – Test Facilities (EFF-TF) Liquid Metal Purification Loop

By SpaceRef Editor
April 22, 2004
Filed under , ,

General Information

  • Document Type: Presolicitation Notice
  • Solicitation Number: 4200057306
  • Posted Date: Apr 22, 2004
  • Original Response Date: May 07, 2004
  • Current Response Date: May 07, 2004
  • Original Archive Date: Apr 22, 2005
  • Current Archive Date: Apr 22, 2005
  • Classification Code: A — Research & Development
  • Naics Code: 541710 — Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences

Contracting Office Address

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


NASA/MSFC has a requirement for research focused on the design, fabrication, testing, and evaluation of reactor systems and components associated with both passive and pumped liquid metal systems which will be (non-nuclear) tested in the EFF-TF facilities at MSFC.    

This activity shall include: 1) a theoretical analysis for determination of how to accomplish less than 5 ppm impurities in alkaline metal during purification processing and for heat pipe module fill, 2) Generate engineering fabrication drawings for liquid metal purification loop capable of producing Sodium (Na), and Sodium/Potassium (NaK) mixture with less than 5 ppm oxygen content in the liquid metals. This loop must also be designed to be used as a component tester for various rector components associated with pumped liquid metal systems, and 3) Fabrication and fill of both stock quantities and known volume cylinders of less than 5 ppm of Na and NaK using loop identified in item #2 (above). NASA/MSFC intends to purchase the items from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, 901 University Blvd SE, Albuquerque, NM     87106-4339. 

This recommendation is made 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: In order to properly address the aspects necessary to build, test, and flight qualify nuclear systems, components, and support equipment using non-nuclear testing, experience is necessary in both (prototypic) non-nuclear testing and nuclear testing of US space flight systems. Additionally, the experience related to the flight systems must be related to the reactor system itself, including intimate experience with the pumped liquid metal loop. To date, the United States has only flown 1 system in 1965 (SNAP 10A), making the “pool” of personnel who have flight reactor experience (related to pumped liquid metal) very limited.    

Because the work on-going at MSFC is geared towards flight systems, it is a necessity that the components/systems tested in MSFC’s facilities take into account and use the experience that was gained from flight programs in order to decrease time and effort needed for current development (and avoid mistakes based on “lessons learned”) of these systems in a timely manner.    

To date, there have only been 2 facilities that have performed prototypic non-nuclear testing of space fission reactor systems.    

New Mexico institute and MSFC. The facilities at the New Mexico Institute are the only facilities in the United States that has actually tested a space flight reactor unit (topaz reactors). The same personnel who performed the flight qualification testing of the SNAP 10A reactor are also the same personnel who were responsible for testing the flight topaz reactors at New Mexico Institute.       Other than at New Mexico Institute, the necessary experience to perform the scope of work for this task is non-existent. The Government intends to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12. Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort in writing to the identified point of contact not later than 4:30 p.m. local time on May 7, 2004.     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. An Ombudsman has been appointed.    

See NASA Specific Note “B”. Any referenced notes may be viewed at the following URLs linked below.

Original Point of Contact

Vanessa D Lindsey, Contract Specialist, Phone (256) 544-4335, Fax (256) 544-6062, Email – Betty C. Kilpatrick, Contract Specialist, Phone (256) 544-0310, Fax (256) 544-6062, Email

Email your questions to Vanessa D Lindsey at

SpaceRef staff editor.