Status Report

NASA Solicitation: Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory NBL Space Vehicle Mockup Facility SVMF Operations

By SpaceRef Editor
May 8, 2014
Filed under , ,

Synopsis – May 07, 2014

General Information

    Solicitation Number: NNJ14ZBR004R

    Posted Date: May 07, 2014

    FedBizOpps Posted Date: May 07, 2014

    Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No

    Original Response Date: N/A

    Current Response Date: May 22, 2014

    Classification Code: A — Research and Development

    NAICS Code: 541712


Contracting Office Address

NASA/Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston Texas, 77058-3696, Mail Code: BR


NASA/JSC has a requirement to extend its Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) and Space Vehicle Mockup Facility (SVMF) (NSOC) Contract NNJ10HD35C with Raytheon Technical Services, Inc. for a period of 2 years with two additional one-year options. The current NSOC period of performance ends on September 30, 2015. The NBL and SVMF are mission critical to maintaining safe human spaceflight operations. These unique facilities are available 24/7 for critical training and mission support operations, maintenance and projects to support the dynamic nature of current and future space programs. NSOC provides highly specialized services including enriched oxygen breathing gas production (Nitrox), Life Support systems for submersed space-suited subjects, hyperbaric operation & maintenance, human-rated Robotics systems, Micro-Gravity simulation, and integrated audio, video and computer network systems tied to International Space Station (ISS) simulation to generate Emergency Scenarios. Commercial Crew Program and the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) requirements are still in development and thus have generated significant uncertainty regarding specific requirements for NBL and SVMF operations during the period following the completion of the current NSOC period of performance. This extension of the current NSOC period of performance permits NASA additional time to more accurately assess future NBL and SVMF programmatic support requirements for International Space Station (ISS), Commercial Crew, and MPCV operations. Following this extension, NASA anticipates that NBL and SVMF requirements will be better defined resulting in a more accurate scope of work that is sufficient to facilitate a future contract competition.

The statutory authority permitting other than full and open competition is 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1), as contemplated by the provisions of FAR 6.302-1. This provision states that full and open competition need not be provided for when the services required by the agency are available from only the original source in the case of a follow-on contract for the continued provision of highly specialized services. The provision also states substantial duplication of cost to the Government that is not expected to be recovered through competition and the exception is applicable when it is likely that award to any other source would result in unacceptable delays in fulfilling the Agency’s requirements.

Timing of the current NSOC period of performance completion coincides with a period of significant uncertainty in the support requirements for NBL and SVMF operations. In response to that uncertainty, NSOC contract scope has been substantially reduced and the workforce will be at its weakest point in terms of critical skills staffing. The reduction in highly skilled services has led to a tipping point in the critical skills margin. Re-competition at that point would destabilize the current NSOC workforce. The NBL and SVMF cannot be taken offline or have a reduction in capability without significant impacts to crew training and on-orbit mission support. The NBL & SVMF could risk losing the capability to perform mission critical on-orbit anomaly resolution. In addition, aging ISS hardware is expected to increase the need for timely and flexible response to real time on-orbit hardware failures. ISS sustaining operations requires that the Mission Operations Directorate (MOD) maintain 24/7 capability to troubleshoot or modify critical systems in a dynamic operations environment.

NASA anticipates that within 2-4 years of the end of the current NSOC contract, development and testing requirements for the Commercial Crew and MPCV Programs will be better defined and on-orbit support requirements for the ISS will be better understood. These NASA Programmatic developments will enable a more accurate assessment of the future NBL and SVMF facility support requirements and permit NASA to conduct a contract competition without compromising the availability of these facilities to conduct 24/7 troubleshooting and on-orbit anomaly resolution. Additionally, NASA anticipates that extending the current contract will permit the NSOC support contractor to finalize ongoing efforts to identify external customers to utilize NSOC facilities as emphasized and incentivized by the NSOC contract.

Because of these considerations, the potential benefits from competition do not justify accepting these substantial risks to the ISS program and to NASA’s missions. The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12.

Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort in writing to Irene Oakley-Johnson @ not later than 4:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) on May 22, 2014. 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.

NASA Clause 1852.215-84, Ombudsman, is applicable. The installation Ombudsman is Perri Fox and can be reached at

Point of Contact

    Name:Irene L Oakley-Johnson

    Title:Contract Specialist



    Name:Cynthia W. Maclean

    Title:Contracting Officer





SpaceRef staff editor.