Status Report

NASA Special Notice: Commercial Space Transportation Services in Support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

By SpaceRef Editor
September 15, 2004
Filed under , ,
NASA Special Notice: Commercial Space Transportation Services in Support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

General Information

Document Type: Special Notice

Solicitation Number: NASA-SNOTE-040915-001

Posted Date: Sep 15, 2004

Original Response Date:

Current Response Date:

Original Archive Date: Sep 15, 2005

Current Archive Date: Sep 15, 2005

Classification Code: A — Research & Development

Contracting Office Address

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



Commercial Space Transportation Services in support of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Background and Purpose:

The President has defined a Vision for Space Exploration for the nation and has charged the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to lead a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond. The President’s Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy forwarded its report “A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover” to the President on June 4, 2004. In that report, the Commission made a number of recommendations concerning the future missions and structure of NASA. The report can be viewed electronically at .

Recommendation 3-1 states, “The Commission recommends NASA recognize and implement a far larger presence of private industry in space operations with the specific goal of allowing private industry to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA, and most immediately in accessing low-Earth orbit.”

Since 1988, NASA has relied on acquisition of commercial launch services to meet civil science, weather observing, planetary and communications space launch requirements. This Request for Information (RFI) seeks any and all ideas for possible ways of implementing the Commission’s recommendation as it relates to NASA space transportation requirements. A separate RFI has been issued to address commercial services other than space transportation.

This RFI, issued by NASA’s Office of Space Operations, is to obtain information regarding capabilities and market interest from existing and emerging domestic commercial space transportation providers. NASA will use this information to shape agency acquisition strategy for space transportation services.

To better understand the full range of commercial participants interested in meeting all or a subset of NASA’s emerging space transportation requirements, please provide the following information:

1.Space Transportation Capability

a. Description of capability

b. Planned launch site/infrastructure

c. Current/planned production/annual launch capability

d. Technology maturity level, for new developments  

e. Order-of-magnitude estimate of recurring service price (identify key assumptions, e.g., flight rate)

f. Order-of-magnitude estimate of non-recurring price (identify key assumptions, e.g., government/industry cost sharing, if any)

g. Estimated schedule from a service contract award to Initial Operational Capability (IOC)

2. General Information

a. Company Name, indicate if a small business

b. Products and/or service lines

c. Privately or Commercially traded 

d. Major development activities underway  

e. Subcontractors/teaming partners envisioned (indicate level of non-domestic participation)

f. Point of contact name, phone number, email address

3. Contracting Information

a. Does your company contemplate competing for NASA or commercial space transportation services in the foreseeable future?

b. Does your company currently hold Government contracts? If so, for what products and services?

c. What type of contracting mechanism (e.g., fixed price, cost plus, etc.) is desirable and why?

Candidate NASA Requirements

Responders are invited to provide information regarding space transportation capability for any of the categories of NASA candidate mission requirements noted below:

1. Ground to Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) deploy: Missions orbital requirements range from 28.5 deg, to equatorial, to sun-synchronous, to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)/Geosynchronous Orbit (GSO) deploy. Altitude ranges from optimum direct inject transfer orbit to 407 km circular for possible assembly missions. Typical missions include weather, science, and communication satellite requirements. Provide information on your current payload capability (mass and volume) and any future proposed growth.

2. Ground to interplanetary trajectory insertion (C3>0): Interplanetary missions may include nuclear propulsion or large-scale cryogenic propulsion. Provide information on your current payload capability at varying C3’s (mass and volume) and any future proposed growth.

3. Ground to LEO rendezvous: Missions could include cargo delivery to ISS, disposal of cargo and/or safe return to Earth, or ground-up rendezvous to a fuel depot (28.5 deg inclination, 407 km) and subsequent mating/docking. Transportation could include autonomous rendezvous and docking (AR&D), automated rendezvous and proximity operations (ARPO) for grapple, either manual or telemetry-operations capability. Systems may also include space-based transportation for retrieving LEO cargo. Cargo will be pressurized and/or unpressurized and could include propellant, consumables, biological specimens, system hardware and scientific instruments. Return cargo could include biological specimens, system hardware, and scientific instruments. Provide information on your current payload capability (mass and volume) and any future proposed growth. Provide information on whether your capability would support any en-route services such as power, ability to handle live specimens, low or high-rate telemetry, command through-put, loads attenuation for Shuttle-built payloads, ground processing capability for payloads, etc. Reference SSP 50235 for ISS Visiting Vehicle interface definition at .

4. Ground to staging location: Staging mission locations may include near-Earth locations, libration point, e.g., L1, Lunar orbit or surface. Cargo could include spacecraft/propulsion assembly elements, lunar surface elements, and lunar supplies and logistics. Transportation could include autonomous rendezvous and docking (AR&D). Provide information on your current payload capability (mass and volume) and any future proposed growth.

5. Human transport and return: Missions could include ground-up rendezvous to ISS and LEO staging locations and return. Provide information on your current payload capability (mass and volume) and any future proposed growth. Reference NPG 8705.2 for Human-Rating Requirements and Guidelines for Space Flight Systems at .

6. In-Space Operations (Transportation Service Node): Operations could include long term storable cryogenic facility and other spacecraft propellants, spacecraft commercial on-orbit assembly services, either telemetry-robotic or manual, on-orbit services for spacecraft, such as, power, communication, and thermal. Systems may also include space-based transportation for retrieving LEO and ISS cargo. Provide information on your current payload capability (mass and volume) and any future proposed growth.

Safety, Programmatic, and Technical Risk

Please describe, in as much detail as possible the safety, programmatic, and technical risks you consider to be the drivers from a program execution perspective and any mitigating actions that may be appropriate for the Government to consider in its planning. Also identify planned/proposed flight demonstrations recommended as risk mitigations for new developments. Acquisition Terms and Conditions In addition, responders are invited to provide suggestions on what conditions best enable industry to make a business case for the market segment(s) for which you are interested. The following topics are suggestions:

  • Government and commercial teaming arrangements
  • Innovative contractual arrangements, cost sharing, service packaging, assured flight rate commitment
  • Changes in governmental regulations (i.e. access to space, protection of intellectual property, domestic and international collaboration, etc?)
  • Other candidate commercial enabling conditions for NASA to consider

Response Preparation and Transmittal:

Responses should identify candidate requirement areas that are of most interest to your company and provide NASA general understanding of your proposed approach to meeting them. Questions concerning this RFI may be submitted via email no later than September 29, 2004, 5:00 PM EDT to Karen Poniatowski at

Responses to this Request for Information (RFI) and call for comments and ideas may lead to a decision to compete study contracts or other follow-on work to implement this recommendation. Responses to this RFI should be sent to the address shown below. Responses are due October 15 , 2004. Respondents shall provide an electronic submission via in addition to the hardcopy submission. (The web site for electronic submission is not currently active, but will be activated no later than September 29, 2004.) Responses are limited to 40 pages. An executive summary should be included as part of any response greater than 10 pages response.

Mr. William F. Readdy

Associate Administrator

Office of Space Operations

NASA Headquarters

300 E Street SW

Washington, D.C. 20546

This document is for information and planning purposes. This document is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government, nor will the Government pay for the information submitted in response. Respondents will not be notified of the results.

Point of Contact

L W Bailets, Procurement Analyst, Phone (202) 358-0435, Fax (202) 358-3082, Email
Email your questions to L W Bailets at

SpaceRef staff editor.