Status Report

NASA Solicitation: Space Launch System Core Stage Engines

By SpaceRef Editor
September 28, 2011
Filed under , , ,
NASA Solicitation: Space Launch System Core Stage Engines

Synopsis – Sep 28, 2011

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNM06AB13C-SLS
Posted Date: Sep 28, 2011
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Sep 28, 2011
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Oct 13, 2011
Current Response Date: Oct 13, 2011
Classification Code: A — Research and Development
NAICS Code: 336415 – Guided Missile and Space Vehicle Propulsion Unit and Propulsion Unit Parts Manufacturing

Contracting Office Address

NASA/George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Procurement Office, Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812


NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) has a requirement for Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage Engines. The SLS consists of Space Shuttle Program (SSP)-derived and Ares components that use existing United States propulsion systems, including liquid fuel engines, cryogenic stages, and solid rocket motor engines. Specific to the core engine, the system will utilize existing RS-25d (SSME) engines for the core lift capabilities. The RS25-d effort is for the acquisition of storage, adaptation, and reacceptance of existing RS-25d Core Stage Engines required for four or five early missions of the SLS (depending upon final manifest needs), which includes moving and storing the residual inventory of fifteen flight engines, two development engines, and associated ground support equipment.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-267, October 11, 2010) directed the Agency to develop, as rapidly as possible, replacement vehicles capable of providing both human and cargo launch capability to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit. In developing the SLS, the Act directed the Administrator to utilize to the extent practicable existing contracts, investments, workforce, industrial base, and capabilities from the SSP, Orion, and Ares I projects. This includes SSP-derived components and Ares components that draw extensively on SSP heritage propulsion systems, including liquid fuel engines, cryogenic stages, and solid rocket motors. As a result, the Agency will initiate the development of the SLS with SSP and Ares derived assets.

NASA/MSFC intends to negotiate only with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) for the SLS Core Stage Engines. This decision is made pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements, which implements the authority for 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1). Competition is impractical for the following reasons:

1) The Government estimate for the time required for the replacement of the RS-25d Core Stage engines is nine years for development (includes two years to obtain and transfer the necessary property plus six to seven years for development and fabrication) plus one year for stage and vehicle integration. Therefore, the schedule for an initial SLS launch would slip from 2017 to no earlier than 2021. This schedule does meet the 2010 Authorization Act intent or the Government schedule for a first launch in 2017. The choice of the RS-25d and its associated performance is also tightly coupled with the tank diameters and other design characteristics of the SLS Core Stage. A set of approved and tested engines must be delivered for integration into the Core Stage by the summer of 2016 to meet the current SLS manifest. Thus, no other engine besides the RS-25d can fulfill the SLS architecture requirements while meeting the SLS manifest. The unique and critical history, capabilities, and infrastructure make PWR the only contractor with the capability to implement the use of the existing RS-25d engines as the SLS Core Stage Engine. Any other option besides PWR would involve unacceptable schedule delays, as well as significantly increased technical risk.

2) PWR designed, developed, and matured the RS-25d engine as the SSME, a process that began nearly forty years ago, and PWR has been the only responsible source for the design, development, repair, refurbishment, testing and flight operations of the RS-25 for the life of the SSP. PWR possesses the sole capability to investigate, resolve, and implement corrective measures for RS-25d development, production, test, and flight operations and is the only entity with the historical corporate experience and knowledge to meet the SLS program needs. PWR’s direct support of the SSP since the 1970s, which provided in-depth experience with and exposure to the requirements and processes required for crewed launch vehicles in general and the RS-25d in particular makes it uniquely qualified to support the December 2017 launch date and other early missions.

3) The experienced PWR staff has demonstrated capabilities for performing complex assemblies of the RS-25d turbomachinery, valves, combustion devices, and the overall engine. The manifestation of these capabilities is exemplified by PWR’s demonstrated experience of developing new hardware designs for RS-25 components and incorporating these new designs into the engine and an active flight program. It is this critical knowledge and skill that makes PWR solely capable for performing the work envisioned in SLS for the RS-25d engines. For another contractor to obtain and relocate these critical skills, staff capabilities, and historical knowledge base would inherently involve some level of capability loss. This determination is based upon experience with changing SSP contractors or contract performance locations and limited capture rates of incumbent personnel. Such a loss would result in cost and schedule impacts and an increase in performance risks of meeting the December 2017 launch date.

4) PWR’s place of performance continues to be at the contractor’s facilities in Canoga Park, CA; Desoto, CA; and West Palm Beach, FL. All engine testing is performed at the Stennis Space Center (SSC) located near Bay St. Louis, MS. PWR possesses multiple facilities capable of turbopump, valve, and engine assembly. These facilities uniquely incorporate resources such as cryogenics and furnace operations within 100,000-class clean rooms in which complex assemblies are performed. The Government has a substantial investment in large scale liquid rocket engine production equipment and facilities at the multiple PWR sites, as well as investments in specialized infrastructure and equipment at Government owned sites as required to support the development and utilization of the engines. Duplication of this infrastructure, facilities, special test equipment, ground support equipment, transportation and handling equipment, special or unique tooling and/or complex assets under the auspices of a different contractor is cost prohibitive. Transfer of this infrastructure and equipment to another contractor would likely require purchasing all that is not currently Government owned; disassembly, transport, reassembly, calibration and, potentially, additional capital investment at another contractor’s site; and training of new personnel to operate the facilities, infrastructure, and equipment. All of this activity represents cost and schedule impacts relative to engaging PWR for the RS-25d endeavor. If the existing inventory of RS-25d engines were not used for this effort, they would be dispositioned and would not be available for use by SLS. This means they would no longer be available for flight or test for SLS. If these engines are not utilized, NASA would be duplicating this unique capability at a significant taxpayer expense.

The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12.

All responsible sources may submit a capability statement, proposal, or quotation, which shall be considered by the Agency. Organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort in writing to the identified point of contact not later than 4:00 p.m. local time on October 13, 2011. 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 Robin N. Henderson,; telephone: (256)544-1919; address: NASA – George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Mail Code DE01, Building 4200, Room 918A, Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812.

Point of Contact

Name: Kimberly J Adams
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 256-544-1479
Fax: 256-544-2985

Name: Jennifer B. McCaghren
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 256-544-5189
Fax: 256-544-4400

SpaceRef staff editor.