Status Report

NASA RFI: Low Cost Solar Array Technologies in Support of High Power Solar Electric Propulsion

By SpaceRef Editor
December 20, 2013
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – Dec 20, 2013

General Information

    Solicitation Number: NNC14ZCH012L

    Posted Date: Dec 20, 2013

    FedBizOpps Posted Date: Dec 20, 2013

    Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No

    Original Response Date: Feb 13, 2014

    Current Response Date: Feb 13, 2014

    Classification Code: A — Research and Development

    NAICS Code: 541712

    Set-Aside Code: 


Contracting Office Address

NASA/Glenn Research Center, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, OH 44135


Section 1: Low Cost Solar Array Technologies in Support of High Power Solar Electric Propulsion Spacecraft: Overview

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is seeking to obtain information on innovative approaches to reduce the costs of space solar arrays through technology improvements. The intent of this Request for Information (RFI) is twofold: first, to obtain feedback from industry regarding NASA’s plans to solicit cost saving technologies as described below, and second, to solicit existing technology samples that would benefit from an early characterization by the Government on a no-cost basis. Areas of interest include (but are not limited to) modularization, automation, reduction in blanket/touch labor manufacturing, improved solar cell yields, reduction in testing costs, and synergy with the terrestrial photovoltaic industry. The approaches sought must be applicable for even moderate power levels (volume production cannot be the only factor to reduce costs). Business plans demonstrating high volume production of space quality solar cells to non-space markets are also sought. NASA intends to pursue overall cost benefits at the solar array level. All cost improvements should represent measureable benefits at this level and provide a pathway for development. Technologies can address recurring and non-recurring costs (manufacturing, test, and/or tooling) for flight units or development units. Low technology readiness level (TRL) technologies are encouraged but the transition from analytical and experimental proof of concept validation (TRL 2-3) to prototype testing in representative space environments (TRL 5-6) must be demonstrated within a three year timeframe.

In a potential future request for proposal, cost benefits demonstrated at the panel level with a description of how those benefits will scale in ranges of 10kWs, 100kWs to 1MW with an anticipated schedule to meet each demand will be required. Information on how that would best be defined is requested as part of this RFI. NASA expects to provide a specific array design to be used by proposers to demonstrate the cost impact of their technology. Demonstration of a low risk of mission failure and high overall performance (i.e. specific power, overall conversion efficiency, low stowed volume, structural dynamics, etc.) must be comparable to current SOA space solar array designs. Technologies must be able to meet AIAA Qualification and Quality Requirements as per S-112A-201X. Eventual technologies must be suitable for space applications. Approaches and proposed technology must be compatible with long duration NASA space missions. For an example, the technology must be operable in 100 – 300V circuits near the plasma exhausted from electric thrusters in a radiation environment driven by 300 day LEO to GEO transfer through the main proton belt (20×1014 1Mev e-/cm2). If concentrators are proposed, proposers must explain how the spacecraft will be impacted (i.e. gimbal, guidance, navigation and control system, costs of the concentrator, structure, flight mode, flight ops, power-EP-comm-nav) in terms of cost as well as in space environment tolerance, thermal design, thermo-mechanical stability, and array planarity.

Examples of technologies sought (but not limited to) include: 

    * Reducing the cost of a cell while not increasing the cost of the layup (e.g. reduced manufacturing costs for high efficiency cells, thin film or other technology with concomitant integration techniques),

    * Increasing the efficiency of a cell while not increasing the cost (e.g. improved manufacturing processes or photovoltaic conversion), or 

    * Optimizing the number of cells (e.g. “supercells” or concentrators), or 

    * Reducing the cost of the full set of CIC’ed cells (e.g. improved methods for interconnects, coverglasses, coatings, etc.), or 

    * Reducing the non-reoccurring costs through component qualification testing, or 

    * Reducing the cost of the cell/blanket integration (e.g. modular panel designs, automated layup, etc.).

Section 2: Low Cost Solar Array Technologies in Support of High Power Solar Electric Propulsion Spacecraft: Response


Feedback from industry is sought on the above wording, particularly regarding what representative spacecraft and mission information from NASA would be of value to help showcase proposed technologies, and how best can NASA solicit business model and cost information from proposers to fairly assess system-level impacts of technologies affecting different aspects of solar array manufacturing and development.

Respondents can submit information and relevant test samples in response to this RFI. Before the solicitation is released, NASA is extending an offer to consider independently characterize technologies that may be suitable for proposal. Technologies would be provided to NASA at no cost to the Government, and NASA would provide test data of mutual interest to NASA and the proposer to provide early feedback about areas of particular interest to NASA. A Space Act Agreement is the expected mechanism to document the test plans and deliverables, and can be initiated immediately.

Request for Information: Responses must be submitted to: Amanda L. George, Contracting Officer NASA Glenn Research Center, MS 60-1 21000 Brookpark Road Cleveland, Ohio 44135

Responses to this RFI shall be submitted in writing and electronic media postmarked no later than 5:00 PM EST on February 13, 2014. Responses are limited to 20 pages total.

The response must be sent as one printed hardcopy and electronically as single Microsoft Word .doc and/or Microsoft EXCEL .xls file for each response on a standard 700 MB CD (Compact Disk). Acceptable file types are Microsoft Office Word 2007 and Microsoft Office Excel 2007. For pictures, the Government prefers encapsulated Postscript (.eps) or embedded (copying and pasting any format of graphic into a document) MS Word 7.0 pictures. The following formats for pictures, drawings, figures, etc., are also acceptable: .cgm, .jpg, .wmf, .mpp, .dxf, or .bmp. Please use 11 point Times New Roman font where paragraphed, as well as single spaced pages printed one-sided.

For the purposes of this RFI, an Engineering Cost Estimate (ECE) is defined as a high-level single estimate without line item breakout or rates that provides an educated financial estimate to be reported in FY14 dollars.

In addition to whatever information the responder chooses to provide, each RFI response shall include a cover sheet with the following information:

1. RFI Solicitation Number and Title

2. Responding Organization (including address, POC and phone number)

3. Respondents CAGE code (if applicable) and business classification (Small, Disadvantaged, HUBZone, etc…)

4. Potential partnerships (industry, international, US government agencies)

5. A brief synopsis of the RFI response in less than 20 words 6. Whether your company would be available for a site visit

This RFI is used solely for information planning purposes and does not constitute a solicitation. In accordance with FAR 15.201(e), responses to this RFI 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. The information provided in responses to this RFI will not be made public in an effort to protect any propriety company information. Nonetheless, respondents should clearly and properly mark any propriety or restricted data contained within its submission so it can be identified and protected. Respondents are solely responsible for all expenses associated with responding to this RFI. Responses to this RFI will not be returned, and respondents will not be notified of the result of the review.

Technical Point of Contact: Name: Jeremiah McNatt Title: Advanced Microelectromechanical (MEMs) Photovoltaic System Technology Development Lead Email:

Point of Contact

    Name: Amanda L. George

    Title: Contract Specialist

    Phone: 216-433-3265

    Fax: 216-433-5114



    Name: Leahmarie Koury

    Title: Contracting Officer, Lead – Exploration Systems

    Phone: 216-433-2137

    Fax: 216-433-2480



SpaceRef staff editor.