Status Report

NASA Solicitation: Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training

By SpaceRef Editor
January 24, 2009
Filed under , ,
NASA Solicitation: Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training

Synopsis – Jan 23, 2009

FAST Attachments – Posted on Jan 23, 2009

General Information

Solicitation Number: N/A
Reference Number: NNH09FAST01
Posted Date: Jan 23, 2009
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Jan 23, 2009
Original Response Date: Mar 20, 2009
Current Response Date: Mar 20, 2009
Classification Code: A — Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712 – Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Headquarters Acquisition Branch, Code 210.H, Greenbelt, MD 20771



The Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) Office provides leveraged technology for Mission Directorates, Programs and Projects through investments and technology partnerships with industry, academia, government agencies and national laboratories. As one of NASA’s Mission Support Offices, IPP supports all four Mission Directorates and has program offices at each of the ten NASA Centers. IPP partnership goals include providing for an increased range of technology solutions, a broadened technology portfolio, improved cost avoidance, accelerated development and maturation of technologies and a larger pool of qualified commercial providers.

The Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology Development and Training (FAST) program has been established within the Innovation Incubator program element of IPP to increase technology infusion by creating more opportunities to advance the maturity of key technologies thereby reducing the risk of adopting those technologies. The FAST program will facilitate technology maturation by providing access to space-environment testing, which is a key step in moving technologies from a lower to higher level of readiness. The FAST program will focus on providing access to micro-gravity or reduced-gravity environments on commercially available parabolic aircraft flights initially, and later suborbital and orbital flights. The FAST program also encourages commercial development and competition by using commercially available space-related services when possible such as the Microgravity Flight Services Contract for parabolic flights and other suborbital and orbital flight services as they emerge.


This announcement solicits interest from US private industry, individuals, academic or research institutions, NASA organizations and other government agencies. The IPP also encourages partnerships between any of those entities. For the FAST program activities the IPP plans to enter into Agreements for research collaborations under the authority of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as amended (“Space Act”). Agreements with external organizations will be in the form of a Non-reimbursable Space Act Agreements (SAA) where each party funds their own participation in the research effort and there is no exchange of funds. In the case of internal NASA organizations, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) will be established to define the effort.


The FAST program will provide opportunities for emerging technologies to be tested in the space environment and is targeted toward technologies that:

* Support NASA’s missions but are not yet mature enough for adoption into NASA’s programs with acceptable risk; and

* Might not otherwise be tested due to lack of funding such as those developed by private companies including SBIR/STTR contractors and other small companies, universities or research institutions and NASA projects in early development.

The current focus is on testing in micro-gravity, reduced-gravity or variable-gravity conditions on parabolic aircraft flights. The FAST program intends to provide future suborbital and orbital flight opportunities for technology testing when those commercial services are offered and if funding is available. Projects selected under this program may be considered for additional parabolic, suborbital or orbital flight opportunities without further competition. Generally, testing on parabolic flights will be required as a precursor to suborbital and orbital flight tests.

Implementation of flight tests for selected proposals under this call is subject to availability of appropriated funds.

NASA will purchase commercial reduced-gravity flight weeks and provide space on these flights for selected projects. There are typically four flights per flight week with each flight including 40 to 60 parabolic trajectories. Each parabola provides approximately 25 seconds of reduced-gravity time. Microgravity and reduced gravity conditions such as lunar gravity (.16 g) or Mars gravity (.38 g) as well as other partial gravity levels can be provided on parabolic aircraft flights. The aircraft will experience increased gravity levels (~ 2g’s) in between parabolas.

NASA flight weeks will generally be conducted out of Ellington Field in Houston, Texas but other locations (such as Cleveland, Ohio) are possible. Proposers should provide margin in their travel budgets to account for an unlikely but possible change in flight location or postponement of a flight week. A flight week typically involves a test readiness review on the first day (Monday) and then one flight per day for four days (Tuesday through Friday). Project teams can request one, two, three or four flight days for their project in their proposal. The aircraft volume will allow for relatively large equipment and could accommodate several test personnel for each project, if required. However, it is recommended that you request the minimum number of flight days, the minimum aircraft volume and the minimum number of on-board participants required to meet your objectives. The FAST program would like to accommodate as many projects as possible and so the extent of requested flight time, volume, personnel or other special needs may be a factor in the selection process.

Technologies selected for reduced-gravity environment testing aboard the parabolic aircraft flights must meet equipment design requirements as determined by the NASA Reduced Gravity Office. You should refer to “JSC Reduced Gravity Program User’s Guide” and “Experiment Design Requirements and Guidelines” which can be found at:

A new space experiment support system developed by NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Space Florida may be available to support proposed investigations. FASTRACK provides a rack structure and standard mid-deck locker accommodations with demonstrated interface compatibility aboard the reduced gravity aircraft. Proposers who wish to consider use of this capability should contact Alexis Hongamen of the KSC IPP Office at 321-867-3107 (email

It should be noted that all proposals will be treated as proprietary information and all reasonable efforts will be made to protect proprietary information in the course of the flight-testing process. However, the aircraft will be carrying multiple projects at the same time and various projects and project personnel will occupy the aircraft cabin and pre-flight preparation areas at the same time. Aircraft operations personnel may participate in loading, securing and unloading project hardware. Video recording and photography of activities may be conducted by NASA, aircraft personnel and other project teams on-board the aircraft and in preparation areas. These photographs and video recordings may be posted on public websites and in other publications. Project teams should take precautions to avoid the inadvertent disclosure of their own proprietary information. For all selected projects, NASA will publicize the name of the company or organization involved with a brief description of the subject technology and may use photographs and video recordings of related flight test activity in public briefings and publications.


Eligibility United States private companies, individuals, academic or research institutions, NASA organizations and other US government agencies or partnerships between any those entities may submit proposals.

Type of Projects Sought The project must be an effort to accomplish reduced-gravity testing of a technology of interest and value to NASA’s missions, programs or projects. Criteria for selection are provided in the next section. A listing of NASA Mission Directorate Technology Focus Areas is provided in Attachment A. Technologies must be within the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) range of 4 to 6 and should be ready for reduced-gravity environment testing at the time of the proposal. A definition of Technology Readiness Levels is provided in Attachment B. There must be a reasonable expectation that the reduced-gravity testing will significantly contribute to advancing the maturity of the technology. This program is not intended to support further laboratory development of technologies.

Funding The FAST program will purchase reduced-gravity flight time and provide this at no cost to the selected projects. All other project costs are the responsibility of the proposing entity including the preparation of the technology test hardware, compliance with flight test and aircraft requirements, preparation for and participation in flight readiness reviews, transportation of hardware and travel for project personnel. Any required flight physicals and physiological training for testing participants are also the responsibility of the proposing entity. If flights are cancelled due to weather or mechanical problems, every effort will be made to reschedule those flights. If additional travel or transportation is required for rescheduled flights, those additional costs are the responsibility of the project team, not the FAST program.

Schedule January 26, 2009 Call for proposals March 20, 2009 Proposal deadline May 1, 2009 Selection Announcement (pending availability of appropriated funds) June 1, 2009 Space Act Agreements and MOA’s completed May-July 2009 Project teams prepare for flight-testing and submit required documentation to the JSC Reduced Gravity Office August 2009 First parabolic aircraft flights occur

Selection The IPP Office at NASA Headquarters will evaluate proposals in coordination with representatives from the Mission Directorates, based on the selection criteria identified within this call. The IPP Office at NASA Headquarters anticipates selecting approximately 20 projects for this flight opportunity. Proposals from private companies and external organizations will be evaluated together with proposals from within NASA and ranked according to the selection criteria. Proposals from partnerships between private and government entities will also be evaluated and ranked together with all other proposals.

Companies, individuals, external organizations or other partnerships with selected proposals will have the opportunity to enter into a Non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA for conducting technology testing in the reduced-gravity environment. Information regarding Space Act Agreements can be found at: . A standard Space Act Agreement template for the FAST program will be posted on the FAST program website. NASA organizations with selected proposals will prepare a Memorandum of Agreement to define the technology testing activity.

Reporting Requirements All selected project teams shall be required to provide reports as described below to the NASA IPP Office. These reports will provide feedback to the FAST program regarding the effectiveness of the program and guidance for future planning. These reports are also intended to maximize the potential for technology infusion through dissemination of information about the status and progress of the subject technology among the relevant NASA programs and projects. NASA will make every reasonable effort to protect proprietary information contained in these reports, if labeled as proprietary. Any proprietary reports must include a non-proprietary summary that can be made available to the public. If selected organizations fail to meet the reporting requirements they will not be eligible for future FAST solicitations.

1. Preliminary Report: A brief summary of the test activity prepared immediately after the flight. Photographs and video recordings are also desired, if available. Length: One page, not including photographs and video. Due: No more than five business days after the final flight day. 2. Final Report: A full description of test activity and results including an assessment of the technology readiness level before and after reduced-gravity testing, any lessons learned or other observations and plans for infusion or further development. Length: At least five pages, no more than 20 pages, not including photographs and video. Due: No more than 60 calendar days after the final flight day. 3. Follow-up Report: A brief update on further progress with the technology including any new technical conclusions based on data from the reduced-gravity testing and any new opportunities for further development or infusion of the technology through contracts or agreements with government or commercial partners. Length: One page. Due: One year after the final flight day.


The following criteria will be used to evaluate the FAST proposals (in order of importance):

1. Relevance and Value to NASA – Technology’s relevance and value to current and future NASA missions, programs or projects. 2. Technology Readiness for Parabolic Flight Testing – Appropriateness of the project technology for this testing activity, the likelihood that the testing will advance its maturity and the significance of the advancement. 3. Resources and Schedule – Realism of the proposed resources available to the project team for preparing and conducting the flight-testing in the available timeframe. 4. Strength of Project Team -Capabilities, related experience and expertise.

The Microgravity Flight Services (MFS) and Reduced Gravity Office (RGO) must also approve technologies selected for the FAST Program before parabolic aircraft flights can occur. The RGO will determine whether the selected technology meets the equipment design requirements for parabolic aircraft flight. The RGO, in consultation with the FAST program, will have final authority over scheduling, manifesting and accommodating selected projects on the aircraft.


Prospective respondents are encouraged to periodically check the FAST program website: The website will be used to post information, updates or modifications to this announcement. The link to submit proposals will be provided at this website prior to the submission deadline.

Please submit a proposal including each numbered item, in order, from the outline below. Proposals shall be limited to ten (10) pages. Items in the outline below have individual page limits. Submitted material exceeding the page limits will not be considered. Incomplete proposals will not be considered. Proposal text shall be single-spaced; using 12-point Times New Roman font, and all pages shall be numbered. Proposals shall include Letters of Commitment described below for each organization involved. These letters are excluded from the page limit and should be placed at the end of the proposal.

Submit proposals and signed letters in a single PDF file to the designated website no earlier than March 16, 2009 and no later than the deadline of 11:59 PM, EST, March 20, 2009.

Proposals must follow this outline:

1) Overview (page 1- limited to one page) a) Project Title b) Name of Organization(s): Name of proposing company or organization. If the project is a partnership, list all partner companies or organizations and for each include the city, state and nine-digit zip code. c) Project Manager: List one primary point-of-contact for the project and one additional point-of-contact for each partner organization. Include complete mailing address, telephone number and email address for each point-of-contact. d) Relevant NASA Mission Directorates: This is the proposers indication of which NASA mission directorate (ARMD, ESMD, SMD or SOMD) would have the highest priority application for the proposed technology. You may identify more than one. Also list any specific programs, projects or future applications that the technology might support. e) Relevant NASA Centers: This is the proposers indication of which NASA Center is associated with the technology or for which the proposed technology would have the greatest relevance. You may identify more than one. f) Infusion Plan: Provide a brief summary of the potential path to be taken for continued development of the technology leading to infusion into a NASA program or project. 2) Description of Technology (page 2 – limited to one page including figures and tables) Describe the background of the technology and its value and relevance to NASA missions, program or projects including the specific benefits expected. Also describe any commercial applications or other characteristics of the technology that may be of interest. 3) Planned Test Objectives and Approach (page 3 – limited to one page including figures and tables): a) Indicate the current technology readiness level (TRL) with supporting evidence. b) Indicate the TRL expected after testing and explain how the proposed testing will advance the TRL. 4) Test Process and Hardware to be Used (page 4 – limited to one page including figures and tables) 5) Test Requirements (page 5 – limited to one page including figures and tables): a) Dimensions of the equipment and operating volume inside aircraft; b) Mass of the equipment; c) Amount and type of power required, if any; d) Required gravity level(s); e) Duration of test and number of flight days needed to adequately validate results; f) Number of test personnel required for flight and a description of the requirement for each participating individual’s presence; and, g) Special testing or accommodation requirements such as venting, cooling, heating, etc., special constraints or support required, including security. 6) Preliminary Hazard Analysis (page 6 – limited to one page including figures and tables) Identify hazards and controls, if applicable. 7) Project Team Resources (pages 7 and 8 – limited to two pages including figures and tables): a) Describe the experience, capabilities and facilities available to the project team. Brief resumes of key personnel should be included. b) Indicate how the team resources will support the conduct of this project. c) Include any relevant experience in reduced-gravity testing. d) Provide an estimate of the overall cost in dollars of the project preparation and testing activity including labor, hardware, software, facilities, shipping and travel. If the proposal is a partnership, provide a breakdown of the cost by partner. This information will be used to establish the level of team commitment and assess the realism of the proposal. Note that the FAST program will not provide funding for any of these expenses. 8) Government Contracts and Agreements (page 9 – limited to one page): If this technology is the subject of any current or previous contracts, grants, cooperative agreements or other agreements (such as Space Act Agreements) between the proposing entity and the US government, including SBIR or STTR contracts or an IPP Seed Fund project, provide the contract or agreement numbers, the name of relevant agency, the name of the COTR (if applicable), and the starting and ending dates of those contracts, grants or agreements. 9) Quad Chart (page 10 – must use template available for download at the FAST program website) 10) Letters of Commitment (one page per letter per organization; letters of commitment are not included in the page count): Provide a letter committing the organization’s resources (as provided in item 7 above) in support of the proposal, signed by an official who is authorized to commit the organization’s resources in support of the proposed project. Proposals from partnerships of more than one entity must include a letter of commitment from each partner organization.


For further information contact the FAST Program Coordinator: Amy B. Hiltabidel, NASA Glenn Research Center, Phone: 216-433-8063, Email:

Points-of-contact for the FAST program in the IPP Offices at each NASA Center are listed below.

Ames Research Center: Lisa Lockyer, Phone: 650-604-1754, Email: Dryden Flight Research Center: Greg Poteat, Phone: 661-276-3872, Email: Glenn Research Center: Kathy Needham, Phone: 216-433-2802, Email: Goddard Space Flight Center: Nona Cheeks, Phone: 301-286-5810, Email: Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Andrew Gray, Phone: 818-354-3821, Email: Johnson Space Center: Kathy Packard, Phone: 281-244-5378, Email: Kennedy Space Center: Alexis Hongamen, Phone: 321-867-3107, Email: Langley Research Center: Brian Beaton, Phone: 757-864-2192, Email: Marshall Space Flight Center: Gwen Jasper, Phone: 256-544-1666, Email: Stennis Space Center: Ramona Travis, Phone: 228-688-3832, Email:

For other issues contact the FAST Program Executive at NASA Headquarters: Andrew Petro, Phone: 202-358-0310, Email:


NASA Innovative Partnerships Program

IPP FAST Program

Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate:

Exploration Systems Mission Directorate:

Science Mission Directorate:

Space Operations Mission Directorate:

Reduced Gravity Program Guides

Additional references that define specific NASA technology needs can be found at the locations below.

NASA Research Opportunities

Small Business Innovation Research Program

Point of Contact

Name: Amy B Hiltabidel
Title: FAST Program Coordinator
Phone: 216-433-8063
Fax: 000-000-0000

SpaceRef staff editor.