Status Report

NASA Solicitation: Scientist Participant Suborbital Research Program

By SpaceRef Editor
September 25, 2008
Filed under , ,
NASA Solicitation: Scientist Participant Suborbital Research Program

Synopsis – Sep 25, 2008

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNH08ZDA011L
Posted Date: Sep 25, 2008
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Sep 25, 2008
Original Response Date: Dec 05, 2008
Current Response Date: Dec 05, 2008
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


REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI) Scientist Participant Suborbital Research Program All Mission Directorates NASA

General Information:

Solicitation Number: NNH08ZDA011L Release Date: September 23, 2008 Response Date: December 5, 2008 Classification Code: A — Research and Development

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recognizes the advancement of the commercial suborbital spaceflight industry and requests information on potential flight experiments enabled by this capability. NASA is determining whether this new platform represents a unique, efficient, cost-effective way of doing business for the agency and is eager to explore all possibilities represented by the various options soon to be available from a variety of commercial providers. NASA is in the formulation phase of a possible new program to fly government-sponsored payloads and/or researchers on commercial suborbital systems with the intent of advancing NASA’s research goals and objectives across Directorates, including the Space Operation Mission Directorate and the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Responses to this RFI will be used to inform NASA’s program planning.


Suborbital missions have provided an important arena for astronomical, terrestrial, and other areas of space research, including technology demonstration, for over 60 years. They offer the opportunity to make astronomical and Earth observations at wavelengths and special observing geometries not accessible from the ground; they also offer the opportunity to study microgravity and other phenomena related to the fundamental physics of the space and Earth sciences. Additionally, suborbital platforms offer cost effective access to space to test and qualify new instruments and technologies that cut across disciplines. Research activities range, for example, from in-situ sampling of atmospheric regions that neither spacecraft nor aircraft can reach, to making celestial observations that are not possible with currently operating spacecraft, to testing science and spacecraft instruments before committing to orbital or interplanetary flight.

The emergence of human suborbital flight for commercial purposes now offers a natural and timely opportunity to open a new research venue to the broader NASA research community. The potential to fly a researcher with the payload could reduce the hardware and autonomy requirements of many potential payloads. In addition, the potential to fly a small unaccompanied payload regularly and frequently also opens broad avenues of research in Earth System Sciences and other fields.

The Science Mission Directorate at NASA issued a RFI in February 2008 requesting information on human tended suborbital science investigations that address NASA’s science objectives in astrophysics, Earth science, heliophysics, and planetary science. NASA is currently soliciting proposals for funded concept studies of human tended suborbital science investigations in those four science disciplines through the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences 2008 (ROSES-08) NASA Research Announcement (NRA) (NNH08ZDA001N-HTSS) (proposals are due December 5 – see , select “Solicitations”, select “Open Solicitations”, select “NNH08ZDA001N”, select “List of Program Elements”, select “Concept Studies for Human Tended Suborbital Science”).

In this RFI, NASA is soliciting ideas and comments from the science, research, and technology communities on potential suborbital investigations with the option of, but not limited to, a “human in the loop” that support any of NASA’s goals. With input from responses to this RFI, NASA intends to (i) consider acquiring commercial suborbital seats and/or flights for NASA-funded researchers to conduct suborbital investigations and (ii) consider an additional solicitation for proposals for suborbital investigation concept studies that address NASA’s research needs, especially those in science disciplines beyond those included in the current ROSES-08 solicitation. For an overview of NASA’s strategic goals and objectives refer to The 2006 NASA Strategic Plan (2006), available at .

It is NASA’s intent to consider a formal solicitation for suborbital spaceflight services in 2009, which could lead to a pilot program of suborbital flight operations in 2010-2011.

If so requested in your response, all information received from this RFI will be considered confidential and proprietary, however NASA may use responses to aid the drafting of an open solicitation for research investigations.

It is not NASA’s intent to publicly disclose proprietary information obtained during this RFI. To the full extent that it is protected pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act and other laws and regulations, information identified by a respondent as “Proprietary or Confidential” will be kept confidential. It is emphasized that this RFI is for planning and information purposes only and is NOT to be construed as a commitment by the Government to enter into a contractual agreement, nor will the Government pay for information solicited.

No solicitation exists; therefore, do not request a copy of the solicitation. If a solicitation is released, it will be synopsized in FedBizOps and on the NASA Acquisition Internet Service.

Requested Information:

The response to this RFI will be in the form of a PDF document that is uploaded through NASA’s NSPIRES system (see instructions below). The response should not exceed three pages in length.

The response should contain the following information:

* Name of submitter and contact information (institutional affiliation, email address); * NASA strategic goals and Directorate with which the suborbital investigation is best aligned (Space Operations Mission Directorate, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Science Mission Directorate, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate); * Description of the potential investigation and payload/experiment that can be flown on any of the variety of manned suborbital vehicles being developed for commercial personal spaceflight, including any information that might be useful to NASA in considering what commercial suborbital services would best serve the research community and whether to solicit and/or sponsor investigations flown on commercial suborbital vehicles within any of NASA’s programs. This information might include, but not be limited to: a description of the experiment/investigation including research objectives, the development status of the investigation and when it might be ready for flight, the investigation’s heritage, the physical size/mass and power/data/other requirements, any requirements on the suborbital flight environment, the expected cost of preparing the investigation and crew for flight and completing post-flight data analysis, the expected number of flights necessary to complete the investigation, the extent to which a “human in the loop” is required or beneficial, whether the investigation team intends to fly their own qualified team member or to have NASA supply a flight scientist, and any other information that might be helpful to NASA in acquiring commercial suborbital services and planning a suborbital research program.


All responses submitted in response to this RFI must be submitted in electronic form via NSPIRES, the NASA online announcement data management system, located at . For this RFI, a response submission will take the form of a Notice of Intent (NOI) within the NSPIRES online announcement data management system. The RFI response itself will be a PDF-formatted document that is attached (uploaded) to the NSPIRES system.

You must be registered with NSPIRES to submit a RFI response. See registration instructions at (select “Getting an account”). Neither institution registration nor an institution affiliation is required to respond to this RFI.

1. Log in to your account at: . 2. Select “Proposals” from your account page 3. Select “Create NOI” from your proposals page. 4. Click “Continue” on the next page 5. Select “Request for Information: NNH08ZDA011L (Science Participant Suborbital Research Program)” from the bullet list of announcements. Click “Continue”.6. Enter RFI response title (“NOI title” field will be shown). Click “Continue.” 7. Select “do not link at this time” for submitting organization page 8. Click “Save” on next page. 9. It is not necessary to complete any of the “NOI Details”; all requested information should be included in the attached PDF document. Information which is entered into “NOI Details” but not included in the attached PDF document will not be considered. 10. Prepare your RFI response offline and save as a PDF document (note NSPIRES instructions on .pdf formats). The response document must include the respondent’s Name, institution, and e-mail address so the file is self-contained. File names format should be “PI Last Name – First Name – RFI”. The response should not exceed three pages in length. 11. To attach (upload) your PDF document: a. Click “add” under NOI attachments section b. Select “Proposal Document” from the drop down list; c. Browse to attach your PDF file; d. Select “Upload”; e. Click “OK” f. Your RFI document has been uploaded to NSPIRES 12. Click Submit NOI button

Please note: You may delete and replace form fields and uploaded documents anytime before the submission deadline of December 5, 2008.

For further information on the Science Participant Suborbital Research Program, please contact Dr. Yvonne Cagle, Mail Code VP, NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, CA 94035; phone at 281-244-8628; email at

Point of Contact

Name: Dr. Yvonne Cagle
Title: General Engineer, ARC: VP
Phone: 281-244-8628
Fax: 000-000-0000

SpaceRef staff editor.