Status Report

NASA RFI: Earth Sciences Advanced Missions Platform Research Aircraft

By SpaceRef Editor
June 29, 2005
Filed under , , ,

Synopsis – Jun 30, 2005

General Information
Solicitation Number: NND05ZUU001L
Posted Date: Jun 30, 2005
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Jun 30, 2005
Original Response Date: Aug 16, 2005
Current Response Date: Aug 16, 2005
Classification Code: A — Research and Development

Contracting Office Address

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


NASA/DFRC anticipates a requirement to use a high altitude, long endurance manned aircraft as an Advanced Missions Platform (AMP) to carry earth science sensor payloads to areas world-wide by the fourth quarter of FY 2008. The payloads themselves would be designed to automatically determine optimum flight trajectories based on sensor measurements and pass this information to the aircraft’s flight control system, essentially re-directing the aircraft in response to the earth science data. NASA is interested in information on vehicles with capabilities substantially similar to those listed below that may be able to perform this mission. Once proven aboard this vehicle, these “intelligent payloads” may later be transitioned to other manned aircraft or UAVs. Such other aircraft and the sensor payloads themselves are not the subject of this RFI.

Description of Information Requested: NASA/DFRC is hereby requesting information regarding potential sources and partners for the acquisition, modification, and flight testing of a manned environmental sciences platform which can fly at altitudes above 60,000 feet with large science payloads exceeding 1000 kg total, including single items up to 750 kg plus various distributed components comprising the remainder. The optimum vehicle will be configurable to carry a variety of payloads of various weights and with a variety of power requirements up to 10Kw for periods of up to 16 hours over ranges in excess of 6000 nm. The vehicle should be adaptable to modifications to carry one or more instrument pods externally (with provisions for pod temperature control and/or pressurization) or should be able to provide provisions within the cabin for various sensors to take in-situ air samples and/or view atmospheric phenomena above, as well as observe atmospheric or surface phenomena below. The vehicle will be required to operate in controlled and uncontrolled airspace worldwide through various weather conditions from tropical to arctic. The vehicle will have to operate over population centers as well as over the open ocean at distances up to 1200 nm from shore. The optimum vehicle will already be fitted with a digital flight management system and/or digital autopilot. Regardless of FMS or autopilot type, the system must interface readily with a GFE “outer loop” research flight control computer that will provide automated flight path guidance generated by the environmental sensor payloads being carried. The contractor-provided FMS or autopilot must have internal authority limits that will prevent exceeding any aircraft limitations. The aircraft will be capable of extended loiter near a particular longitude and latitude and of following specific weather phenomena over very large areas such as the Pacific Ocean. Ability to provide accommodations for up to two researchers or relief aircrew as part of the payload would be a plus, but is not a requirement. If space for researchers is not available, provisions for payload control from a crew station will be required. Ability to transit areas of moderate icing en-route to areas of scientific interest would also be advantageous. In the course of acquiring and modifying the aircraft designed to meet these objectives NASA and its industrial partner(s) will review, clarify and possibly modify the proposed requirements. The partnership will jointly: develop the design(s) and on-board research systems to meet the requirements, model design performance under operational conditions, design and execute plans for interfacing the required research systems with aircraft indigenous systems, install them on the vehicle, then plan and execute flight testing of the research systems and environmental sensors. NASA is open to a number of procurement approaches to any eventual acquisition and will consider non-traditional business arrangements. There is no specific requirement for NASA to own or operate the vehicle, so in one approach, the airframe provider might own and operate the vehicle and be assured regular systems engineering and integration work incorporating various environmental sensor packages as well as purchase by NASA of sufficient flight hours to enable a valid long-term business relationship.

SUBMISSIONS: Interested parties able to partner with NASA to outfit an aircraft that can meet the performance objectives above (or other capabilities that are substantially similar) should submit a capability statement of 5 pages or less indicating the ability to perform the effort described herein. Responders are also encouraged to comment on alternative acquisition approaches that do not involve outright purchase of the airframe by NASA. PLEASE DO NOT SEND CLASSIFIED INFORMATION IN RESPONSE TO THIS REQUEST.

No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation is released it will be synopsized in the CBD and on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service. It is the potential offerors’ responsibility to monitor these sites for the release of any solicitation or synopsis.

Additional Key Words to Support Electronic Search: Air Transport Aircraft Lease Stratosphere Remote Sensing


Technical questions should be directed to: Mark Dickerson at

Point of Contact

Name: Brian G. Bowman
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: (661) 276-3329
Fax: (661) 276-2904

SpaceRef staff editor.