Status Report

NASA Solicitation: TPS For Mars Entry Descent and Landing

By SpaceRef Editor
December 22, 2009
Filed under , , ,

Synopsis – Dec 22, 2009

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNA10323994Q
Posted Date: Dec 22, 2009
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Dec 22, 2009
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Jan 04, 2010
Current Response Date: Jan 04, 2010
Classification Code: A — Research and Development
NAICS Code: 336419 – Other Guided Missile and Space Vehicle Parts and Auxiliary Equipment Manufacturing

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Ames Research Center, JA:M/S 241-1, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000


NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) plans to issue a Request for Quotes (RFQ) for Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) materials for the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) Technology Development Project (TDP).

In October 2009, NASAs Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) established the EDL TDP, to be managed programmatically at Langley Research Center (LaRC) and technically at ARC. The purpose of the project is to further the technologies required to land heavy (~40 metric ton) masses on Mars to facilitate exploration. The EDL TDP contains three technical elements. They are 1) Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) development; 2) Modeling and Tools (MAT) development; and 3) Supersonic Retropropulsion (SRP) development. The primary goals of the EDL TDP TPS element is to design and develop TPS materials capable of withstanding the severe aerothermal loads associated with aerocapture and entry into the Martian atmosphere while significantly decreasing the TPS mass fraction contribution to the entry system. Significant advancements in TPS materials technology is needed in order to enable heavy mass payloads to be successfully landed on the Martian surface for robotic precursor and subsequent human exploration missions.

In July 2009 NASA released a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit information from TPS materials vendors regarding materials and concepts that could meet the initial requirements derived from the Mars Design Reference Mission 5.0 architecture. NASAs evaluation of industry responses to the RFI indicates that there are promising TPS materials, technologies and concepts that could ultimately meet the stringent requirements for Mars aerocapture and entry. This procurement will consist of screening tests of multiple TPS materials from multiple vendors within a detailed trade study framework in order to advance promising concepts to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 or 6 by 2014.

NASA intends to conduct a Progressive Competition in accordance with NASA FAR Subpart 1817.73 Phased Acquisitions. This presolicitation notice constitutes the required synopsis for Phase 1. To be considered for a Phase 1 award, offerors will have to demonstrate capability to perform all phases of this Procurement.

The following information applies to this phased acquisition process:

(1) The Government plans to conduct a phased acquisition involving a competitive down-selection process, as follows:

Phase 1 is for delivery of TPS material coupons as described on the attached Statement of Work Phase 1. NASA will perform a variety of tests on these submitted coupons, and results of the testing will be evaluated as part of the down-select to Phase 2.

Phase 2 is for continued testing, development, extending the TRL, etc. for up to 4 rigid ablator materials and for further screening of viable deployable ablator materials (see attached Statement of Work Phase 1 for more detail on types of ablators) . The down select for Phase 2 is expected to be about Summer 2010.

Phase 3 is for development and further characterization of up to two rigid ablator materials and up to three deployable ablator materials (see attached Statement of Work Phase 1 for more detail on types of ablators). The down-select for Phase 3 is expected to be about mid FY2012.

Phase 4 is for further development and larger scale testing of the best materials determined in Phase 3. The down-select for Phase 4 is expected to be in the beginning of FY2014.

(2) Competitions for identified subsequent phases will build on the results of previous phases.

(3) The award criteria for subsequent phases will include demonstrated completion of specified previous phase requirements.

(4) The Government expects that only the initial phase contractors will be capable of successfully competing for the subsequent phase(s). Proposals for the subsequent phase(s) will be requested from these contractors.

(5) The Government does not intend to issue a new, formal solicitation for subsequent phases. This is a progressive competition in accordance with NFAR 1817.7301-5. Towards the end of each phase, all contractors for that phase will be provided pertinent subsequent phase proposal information (e.g., statements of work, specifications, proposal preparation instructions, and evaluation factors for award) to be considered for the down select to the next phase.

(6) Each subsequent phase of the acquisition will be synopsized in accordance with FAR 5.201 and 5.203.

(7) Notwithstanding the expectation that only the initial phase contractors will be capable of successfully competing for the subsequent phase(s), proposals from all responsible sources submitted by the specified due date will be considered. In order to contend for subsequent phase awards, however, such prospective offerors must demonstrate a design maturity equivalent to that of the prior phase contractors. Failure to fully and completely demonstrate the appropriate level of design maturity may render the proposal unacceptable with no further consideration for contract award.

(8) Each subsequent synopsis during this process will identify the current phase contractors.

NASA/ARC is planning to award multiple non-commercial purchase orders for Phase 1. The Phase 1 procurement will be conducted in accordance with FAR Part 13, Simplified Acquisition Procedures. Later phases will include more complex requirements and are expected to have higher contract values, with longer periods of performances, and are thus expected to be conducted in accordance with FAR Part 15, Contracting by Negotiation.

The tentative TPS for MARS EDL Phase 1 schedule is: Issuance of Synopsis December 22, 2009; Issuance of Solicitation January 6, 2010; Quotes/proposals Due 15 days following issuance of solicitation; Multiple Purchase Orders awarded end January 2010

All contractual and/or technical questions must be submitted in writing (e-mail or fax) by January 4, 2010. Telephone questions will not be accepted. Please address any comments or questions to: Marianne Shelley, NASA Ames Research Center. Email: Fax: 650-604-3020. Any responses to questions submitted will be posted at this website as a modification to this synopsis.

The NAICS Code is 336419 – Other Guided Missile and Space Vehicle Parts and Auxiliary Equipment Manufacturing with Size Standard: 1000 employees.

The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12. See Note 26.

All responsible sources may submit an offer which shall be considered by the agency.

Prospective offerors shall notify this office of their intent to submit an offer. In your notification indicate if your interest is in submitting an offer for the rigid ablator TPS material coupons or deployable TPS material coupons, or for both.

It is the offeror’s responsibility to monitor this Internet site for the release of the solicitation and amendments (if any). Potential offerors will be responsible for downloading their own copy of the solicitation and amendments (if any). The solicitation and any documents related to this procurement will be available over the Internet. These documents will reside on a World-Wide Web (WWW) server, which may be accessed using a WWW browser application. The Internet site, or URL, for the NASA/ARC Business Opportunities page is

An ombudsman has been appointed. See NASA Specific Note “B”.

Information about major upcoming ARC procurement actions is available at

Any referenced notes may be viewed at the following URLs linked below.

Point of Contact

Name: Marianne Shelley
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 650-604-4179
Fax: 650-604-3020

Name: Rachel Khattab
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 650-604-5237
Fax: 650-604-3020

SpaceRef staff editor.