Status Report

NASA Request for Information: Commercial Reduced Gravity Aircraft Services

By SpaceRef Editor
June 13, 2014
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – Jun 13, 2014

General Information

Solicitation Number: NND14REDUCEDGRAVITY

Posted Date: Jun 13, 2014

FedBizOpps Posted Date: Jun 13, 2014

Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No

Original Response Date: Jul 07, 2014

Current Response Date: Jul 07, 2014

Classification Code: V — Transportation, travel, and relocation services

NAICS Code: 481219


Contracting Office Address

NASA/Armstrong Flight Research Center, Code A, P.O. Box 273, Edwards, CA 93523-0273


Commercial Reduced Gravity Aircraft Services Request for Information (RFI)


This notice issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC), Edwards, CA is a Request for Information (RFI) for Commercial Reduced Gravity Aircraft Services. The intent of this notice is to obtain information on commercial capabilities to provide brief periods of microgravity, partial gravity, hyper-gravity conditions and associated capabilities for payload integration, safety, and airworthiness for various government research, technology development, and training missions.

This document is for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to verify reasonableness and feasibility of the requirement, as well as promote competition. Prospective offerors are invited to submit written comments or questions to the POCs listed below.

Microgravity flights provide a unique “reduced gravity” or “zero-g” environment for microgravity research (in areas such as fluid physics, combustion, material sciences, and life sciences), engineering development (for the International Space Station and other space hardware programs) and astronaut flight crew training.

The typical operation involves one or more self-contained experiments that are installed on the platform and activated in flight during the microgravity periods by a human operator. Data is recorded, and experiments are often photographed. Upon completion of the flight, the experiment is removed to be refurbished and prepared for future flights. The experiments are usually observed and/or tended during flights by a human experimenter.

Reduced gravity parabolic trajectories are normally within the design envelope of FAA-certificated jet transport aircraft, however, the repeated parabolic trajectories are duty cycles that manufacturers did not consider in the design of their aircraft and engines.

NASA is divesting internal capabilities for microgravity flights that use NASA owned and operated aircraft. NASA’s current operational concept has NASA acquiring Reduced Gravity Aircraft services through outside sources. Currently, aircraft contracted by NASA to provide aeronautical research are operated in accordance with FAA Advisory Circular 00-1.1A, “Public Aircraft Operations”. Under this AC, NASA is responsible for determining the airworthiness and flight safety of the Contractor’s reduced gravity aircraft operations and maintenance. As a “Public Use” aircraft operation, NASA reviews and approves any deviations to Part 21, 23, 25, 27, 33, 35, 43, 61, 63, 65, 67, 91, and 121 as needed to accomplish NASA research missions in accordance with the intent of the AC 00-1.1A and applicable NASA policies. Consequently, Contractors for NASA Reduced Gravity Aircraft services are currently required to maintain a program that allows sufficient NASA insight to approve FAA regulatory deviations for the NASA mission while the Contractor aircraft is operated as Public Use. Upon the completion of a NASA mission the aircraft may be returned to its original civil status and returned to service under FAA airworthiness regulations. It is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure compliance with all FAA regulations when returning an aircraft to civil use.

NASA would like to change this operational concept and obtain these services on a purely commercial basis, wherein the provider bears full responsibility for airworthiness, flight safety, and mission assurance. NASA wishes to assess the availability of reduced gravity flight services that do not require Public Aircraft Operation (PAO – ref. AC 001.1A) with commensurate NASA airworthiness approvals. Responders are requested to provide information on the possibility and practicality of such an operational concept utilizing certificated aircraft with an FAA approved maintenance and operations plan.

Under a non-PAO concept, NASA will provide limited airworthiness oversight for payload design and payload integration for NASA payloads. NASA will also perform an initial airworthiness review including a physical inspection of the proposed aircraft and detailed review of its maintenance records.

Because it may not be feasible for vendors to provide reduced gravity services on a purely commercial basis, using FAA certificated aircraft, NASA would also like to consider vendors where the aircraft is operated in accordance with FAA AC 001.1A as a Public Use Aircraft with the associated NASA airworthiness and flight safety insight. This is similar or equivalent to the current operational concept previously described.

Prospective vendors may respond to either or both of these operational concepts.

Responders are requested to provide information regarding their aircraft and engine manufacturer’s engineering evaluations that demonstrate the suitability of their aircraft and engines for the reduced gravity mission. The manufacturer’s engineering evaluations shall include recommendations for aircraft and engine modifications, operations, life limitations, structural monitoring, and maintenance.

Responders are requested to provide information regarding their aircraft operations and maintenance per Title 14 CFR Part 121 or equivalent (a Part 121 Certificate is not required), and any additional Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements to meet the reduced gravity mission.

Interested parties having the required specialized capabilities to meet the requirements must submit a capability statement. All maintenance and operational actions required to support the microgravity service mission should be addressed in the capability statement.

The Capability Statement should address the following:

1. Does your organization have the capability to provide the services? If so, please describe your capabilities and performance history for the following. Include other pertinent capabilities. 

* Describe your capabilities to provide various levels of microgravity, including duration, noise level, and accuracy 

* Describe your capabilities for providing for outboard venting of gasses generated by payloads; electrical power; pneumatics 

* Describe the platform environment you can provide for experiments, including the number of independent experiment packages you are capable of accommodating per flight, the maximum volume and mass of experiments, the types and sources of power, environmental conditions and ability to vary environments, and ability to accommodate human flight participants 

* Describe any restrictions on payload contents (e.g. mass. volume, battery types, gasses, temperatures, etc.) 

* Describe your typical flight profile for a micro-g parabola (altitude/airspeed profile, as well as g-level profile)

2. How would you manage a microgravity program including maintenance and operation of the aircraft; customer support; and payload integration? 


Describe the aircraft make and model you would propose using to provide these services 

* Describe your engineering capability for integrating custom payload types 

* Describe your airworthiness and flight safety processes, and how you intend to operate within FAA approval guidelines as an FAA-certificated aircraft. 

* Describe your capabilities for payload integration, including how you assess the airworthiness of payloads and how you isolate payloads from aircraft systems 

* Describe your ground facilities for experimenter preflight preparation and postflight maintenance of their experiments 

* Describe your capabilities to provide special systems, such as lighting, intercom, precision gravity monitoring, etc.

3. What, if any, are the barriers to utilizing your Aircraft to provide reduced gravity flight services as a certificated aircraft? Include how you would eliminate or mitigate potential barriers to utilizing your Aircraft as other than a Public Aircraft.

4. If your aircraft is operated as an FAA certificated aircraft for the NASA mission without NASA airworthiness insight, how do you plan to certify airworthiness and approve modifications to the aircraft type certificate?”

5. What, if anything, would you require from NASA in order to provide microgravity services and other proposed services while operating your aircraft as a certificated aircraft?

6. What other recommendations or concepts of operation do you have on how to provide Reduced Gravity Aircraft services to support the NASA mission?

Responses must include the following:

1. Name and address of firm and the name of the author of the suggestions.

2. Size of business; average annual revenue for the past three years and number of employees.

3. Whether the firm is a large business, Small Business, Small Disadvantaged Business, HUBZone Small Business, Women Owned Small Business, Veteran Owned Small Business, Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, or one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities/Minority Institutions.

4. Number of years in business.

5. Affiliate information: parent company, joint venture partners and potential teaming partners.

In accordance with FAR 15.201(e), responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract. The Government is under no obligation to issue a solicitation or to award any contract on the basis of this RFI.

No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation is released it will be synopsized in FedBizOpps and on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service. It is the potential offeror’s responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of any solicitation or synopsis. This notice does not constitute a Request for Proposal, Invitation for Bid, or Request for Quotation, and is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government to enter into a contract. This document is for information purposes only to allow industry the opportunity to submit ideas and recommendations on the feasibility of utilizing external NASA sources to provide microgravity flight support and/or other services for the NASA mission.

NASA will not affirmatively release any information received in response to this RFI to the public, but may use information received in developing the best approach for a contract strategy. Any information submitted in response to this RFI that is marked as “Confidential Commercial or Financial Information” will be considered as voluntarily submitted in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

As the requirement becomes more defined, we will consider other NAICS codes. Please provide any imput that may be beneficial to consider when selecting the NAICS code.

This presolicitation synopsis is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government, nor will the Government pay for the information submitted in response. Respondents will not be notified of the results.

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

The solicitation and any documents related to this procurement will be available over the Internet. These documents will reside on a World Wide Web (WWW) server, which may be accessed using a WWW browser application. The Internet site, or URL, for the NASA/AFRC Business Opportunities home page is It is the offeror’s responsibility to monitor the Internet cite for the release of the solicitation and amendments (if any). Potential offerors will be responsible for downloading their own copy of the solicitation and amendments, if any.

Reference: NASA Documents

1. NPR 8715.3A, NASA General Safety Program Requirements 2. NPR 7900.3C, NASA Aircraft Operations Management Manual (except chapters 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13; section 1.2; and paragraphs 1.1.2, 1.3.2c, 7.2.5) 3. NPR 8621.1B, NASA Procedural Requirements for Mishap and Close Call Reporting, Investigating, and Recordkeeping

Reference: FAA Documents & Public Law

1. Advisory Circular AC 00-1.1A, “Public Aircraft Operations” 2. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14CFR) 3. Title 49 U.S.C. SS 40102(a)(41) and 40125


Point of Contact

Name: Zachary M Wright

Title: Contract Specialist

Phone: 661-276-5112

Fax: 661-276-2292


Name: Robert Medina

Title: Contracting Officer

Phone: 661-276-3343

Fax: 661-276-2904



SpaceRef staff editor.