Status Report

NASA Presolicitation Notice: Kistler K-1 Pre-Flight and Post-flight Data

By SpaceRef Editor
February 3, 2004
Filed under ,

General Information

  • Document Type: Presolicitation Notice
  • Solicitation Number: NAS8-01103
  • Posted Date: Feb 02, 2004
  • Original Response Date: Feb 17, 2004
  • Original Archive Date: Feb 02, 2005
  • Current Archive Date:
  • Classification Code: A — Research & Development

Contracting Office Address

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

NASA has new direction to retire the Space Shuttle following completion of the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) at the end of the decade. Further, as a consequence of the Columbia accident and the planned Shuttle flight rate of only five flights per year, NASA seeks to augment the Shuttle to enable increased capability to transport cargo to and from the ISS beginning after U.S. core complete in 2006. NASA continues to refine its space access requirements to support the ISS. However, during the period 2006-2010 there is more projected demand to return cargo from the ISS than can be supported by the Shuttle. There is no current or planned capability other than the Shuttle to return cargo from the ISS, with the exception of the very limited capability of the Soyuz.

Accordingly, NASA has a requirement for data to demonstrate the ability of commercial launch systems to support ISS with up-and down-mass capability as soon as practical. To meet the schedule directed by the President for this new direction, NASA needs these data by the end of CY 2006. NASA also has an objective to obtain data on technologies needed to support enhanced reliability and vehicle health monitoring of existing launch systems to support the President’s new space exploration directive. In order to fulfill these space transportation objectives, NASA has a requirement to obtain data related to the following: demonstration of technologies that will improve launch system reliability and safety to a level that enables their use to launch astronauts into low Earth orbit and demonstration of the capability of a recoverable launch system to autonomously approach and connect to another platform in space.

In addition, the innovative new modular architectural approaches under consideration by NASA to accomplish exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit will require launch systems with autonomous rendezvous and proximity operations (ARPO) capability to enable the modules to stage and service themselves in low Earth orbit prior to embarking on deep space missions. NASA needs flight data demonstrating ARPO technology. A progressive series of flight demonstrations as soon as practical is necessary to enable NASA to verify the repeatability and operability of these technologies in order to provide ‘lessons learned’ for launch system architectures under development. NASA intends to acquire data pertaining to these technologies and capabilities by exercising existing options and adding work to Contract NAS8-01103. Contract NAS8-01103 was awarded to Kistler Aerospace Corporation in May 2001 as a fixed-price contract under a competitive research announcement.

Kistler is developing the K-1 launch system, which is expected to achieve a first flight within approximately 18 months of authority to proceed with the modified contract. The K-1 launch system will have a payload capability of approximately 7,000 pounds up-mass and 2,000 pounds down-mass to the ISS. Authority to proceed with work under this contract modification will be contingent on a successful conclusion of the contractor’s Chapter 11 proceedings that results in Kistler having sufficient additional private funding to complete the K-1 development. NASA funding will not be provided for development of the K-1 launch system. Payment of NASA funding will be made only upon timely delivery and Government acceptance of the data required under the contract. This contract modification is for a continuation of data acquisition. The K-1 launch system design includes a number of embedded technologies that will directly benefit launch system development, including an integrated vehicle health management system, advanced checkout and control systems, and a fully autonomous guidance, navigation and control system. All data pertaining to thirteen specified technologies embedded in the Kistler launch system and the ARPO technology experiments required to accomplish the objectives stated above will be furnished to NASA with unlimited data rights, enabling NASA to make this data available to other contractors to support future NASA space launch solicitations.

This contract will not be used to acquire launch services. Any procurement of launch services will be the subject of a future competitive solicitation. The current contract contains options to acquire data pertaining to the specified embedded technologies and an ARPO experiment. NASA will exercise these options, and will add four additional ARPO experiments to the contract, thus acquiring data from a total of 5 flights of the K-1 launch system. The series of flights, including a progressively more complex series of ARPO experiments, will provide the data necessary to adequately demonstrate these new technologies. In addition, the series of ARPO experiments should be adequate to demonstrate the capability of a commercial provider to support the ISS with cargo re-supply and return services. Continued NASA payments for data from each sequential flight will be subject to the successful performance of the preceding flight, in accordance with schedule milestones, and may be terminated by NASA in the event contractor performance is not successful or does not meet the scheduled milestones.

NASA/MSFC intends to purchase the data from Kistler Aerospace Corporation, located in Kirkland, WA, under the authority of FAR 6.302-1 (a) (2). The statement of the reason justifying lack of competition is as follows: NASA determined there are no other identifiable sources that could provide the same data by CY 2006 with no NASA funding for development costs. This determination is based upon NASA’s extensive knowledge of the launch vehicle market and is supported by the detailed launch vehicle market survey conducted by the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation and documented in a report titled ‘2003 U.S. Commercial Space Transportation Developments and Concepts: Vehicles, Technologies, and Spaceports’ dated January 2003.

No other commercially developed launch system with ARPO capability is known to exist or be planned for flight in the timeframe required. Because a significant portion of the Kistler launch vehicle has been fabricated and an inventory of flight engines has been acquired, Kistler Aerospace Corporation is the only known identifiable path to achieving these objectives as early as 2006. Therefore, research shows that the data to be delivered by the modification is not available from any other source. 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 February 17, 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. Please provide responses in writing to Jackie Byrnes at or NASA/MSFC, Attn: Jackie Byrnes PS50, Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812.

All responsible sources may submit written responses, which shall be considered by the agency. An Ombudsman has been appointed. See NASA Specific Note “B”.

Original Point of Contact

Cynthia B. Hollingsworth, Contracting Officer, Phone (256) 544-1656, Fax (256) 544-6062, Email – Jackie J. Byrnes, Contract Specialist, Phone (256) 544-3494, Fax (256) 544-6062, Email

Email your questions to Cynthia B. Hollingsworth at

SpaceRef staff editor.