Status Report

NASA Teaming Opportunity to Develop and Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking Technology Demonstration Mission

By SpaceRef Editor
March 24, 2011
Filed under , , ,

Synopsis – Mar 23, 2011

General Information

Solicitation Number: SS-DOCKING
Posted Date: Mar 23, 2011
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Mar 23, 2011
Recovery and Reinvestment Act Action: No
Original Response Date: Apr 08, 2011
Current Response Date: Apr 08, 2011
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/Langley Research Center, Mail Stop 144, Industry Assistance Office, Hampton, VA 23681-0001


This partnering synopsis solicits potential partners to participate in developing a proposal addressing the goals and objectives of Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) NNM11ZDA001K, Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) Program. The BAA can be accessed at: .

Participation in this partnering synopsis is open to all categories of U.S. and non-U.S. organizations, including educational institutions, industry, not-for-profit institutions, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as NASA Centers and other U.S. Government Agencies. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Other Minority Universities (OMUs), small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs), veteran-owned small businesses, service disabled veteran-owned small businesses, HUBzone small businesses, and women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) are encouraged to apply. Participation by non-U.S. organizations is welcome but subject to NASA’s policy of no exchange of funds, in which each government supports its own national participants and associated costs.

The Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) has established the Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) Program within the Crosscutting Capability Demonstrations (CCD) Division to mature advanced space technologies that are of benefit to multiple customers through flight readiness and mission infusion. This BAA solicits proposals for the demonstration of space technologies that provide new system-level technological capabilities. OCT TDM is seeking to identify candidate crosscutting, system-level technologies to be demonstrated in the relevant environment such as ground, air, suborbital or orbital regimes. A key requirement in this program is that the technology under consideration must clearly be crosscutting. Crosscutting is defined as a technology with potential to benefit more than one customer, where a customer can be a NASA Mission Directorate, another government agency, academia, or the aerospace industry. Specifically, “system-level technologies” implies an integrated system with mission capability and not component-level demonstrations. OCT is seeking new capability demonstrations that advance the technology readiness of the selected systems, provide tangible, innovative technology products, are cost effective, and capture significant public interest and awareness. The candidate technology must be mature, at least Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 at the time of the proposal submission (see BAA, Appendix A, TRL Definitions), and the proposed demonstration must raise the technology readiness of the new capability, to TRL 7 or higher, such that it may be infused into the critical path for future missions.

In response to the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) NNM11ZDA001K, partners are sought for the development of a proposal that is focused on the design, development, and execution of a technology demonstration mission to improve the technology readiness for reliable and autonomous rendezvous and docking (AR&D).

The ability of space assets to reliably and autonomously rendezvous and dock enables human and science exploration, as well as satellite servicing/rescue, and is an essential capability for the future of human and robotic missions. One of the challenges for autonomous rendezvous and docking is proximity operations. Proximity operations to targets such as spacecraft, space telescopes or Near Earth Objects (NEOs) will require advanced autonomous rendezvous and coupling technologies. Objects like NEOs that lack docking infrastructure, and may also be tumbling, are particularly challenging. This technology demonstration will improve the technology readiness of full autonomy and automation of rendezvous, docking, close proximity operations and formation flying that would provide future missions with a ready-to-fly capability that is reliable, versatile, cost-effective, and could be utilized in either low Earth orbit or deep space.

The goal of the technology demonstration is to help develop and demonstrate a robust AR&D capability suite that can be confidently utilized on human spaceflight and robotic vehicles over a variety of design reference missions. This technology demonstration requires five significant elements in order to be fully successful, including;

(1) Relative Navigation and Mapping Sensors: Design, development, test, and integration of relative navigation and mapping sensors (including associated processing software and electronics) which provide bearing, range, and relative attitude as well as the capability to map the surface of a target in all lighting conditions.

(2) Real-Time, Autonomous GN&C Flight Software: Design, development, test, and integration of automated/ autonomous algorithms into real-time flight software operating systems, using the feedbacks from the relative navigation sensors.

(3) Satellite Bus: Satellite bus design, development, test, and integration as well as the integration of the technology demonstration payload(s) and docking mechanism. Other potential support includes; integrated satellite (bus, payload, and docking mechanism) functional testing, performance and environmental testing, shipment to the launch site, support of launch operations, and on-orbit performance verification.

(4) Mission Operations: On-orbit command and control of the satellite bus and the technology demonstration payload(s); including a mission operation center as well as the operational staffing, training, implementation, and maintenance to provide mission operations throughout the lifetime (TBD) of the technology demonstration.

(5) Launch Vehicle/Launch Services: All services associated with placing the technology demonstration satellite into its proper (TBD) orbit, including but not limited to; integration of the technology demonstration satellite with the launch vehicle, launch operations and range services. Ride share possibilities are of interest.

Potential partners are requested to indicate specifically their interest in partnering with NASA LaRC on the Technology Demonstration BAA, NNM11ZDA001K. LaRC will consider partners with the proven capability to support any one or more of the required mission elements described above. Partnership responses shall be divided into a separate section for each of the five mission elements to which the response is addressing.

In addition to addressing one or more of the five identified mission elements, identification of potential solutions to meet the cost-sharing requirements identified within the BAA (Section 3.0, Item 6.) is of special interest.

If selected through this synopsis, it is expected that the selected partner(s) will work with NASA LaRC scientists and engineers to jointly develop the proposal. If the proposal is selected, NASA LaRC anticipates issuing contracts or other agreements to the selected partner(s) for performance of the proposed tasks.

This partnering opportunity does not guarantee selection for award of any contracts or other agreements, nor is it to be construed as a commitment by NASA to pay for the information solicited. It is expected that the partner(s) selected would provide (at no cost to NASA) conceptual designs, technical data, proposal input, project schedules, and cost estimates.

Partner selections will be made by LaRC based on the listed criteria, in the following order of importance:

(1) Relevant experience, past performance, technical capability, and key personnel availability to design, develop, and execute low-cost, low-risk space technology demonstrations (for one or more of the required mission elements described above). This criterion evaluates the proposer’s relevant recent experience, past performance in similar development activities, technical capability to perform the development, and key personnel available to support the development. Substantive evidence of successful participation in similar developments should be included.

(2) Cost and schedule control. This criterion evaluates the proposer’s ability to fit within the cost constraint of the BAA and to control both cost and schedule. The proposer should provide evidence of successfully controlling cost and schedule for similar development programs and provide evidence of management processes in this area. Given the cost constraint and guidance on cost-sharing for this technology demonstration, the ability of the proposer to provide low-cost, innovative solutions for the mission elements and to facilitate potential cost-sharing approaches are of special interest.

(3) Facilities. This criterion evaluates the proposer’s facilities (development, testing, analysis, and operations) to conduct the development or demonstration of the proposed task. The proposer should discuss facility availability, access, and the ability to meet the proposed objectives.

NASA will not reimburse organizations for the cost of submitting information in response to this synopsis. NASA will not pay for technical assessment or proposal preparation costs incurred by the team members.


LaRC will host a telecon with all interested parties at 1:00-3:00 PM (EDT) on March 29, 2011. In order to participate in this telecon, interested parties shall submit names of two points of contact (with contact information) to LaRC electronically via email by 5:00pm EDT on March 28, 2011 to Brad Gardner (

Responses to this partnering synopsis shall be divided into separate sections for each of the mission elements described above. The response for each element shall be limited to 8 pages in not less than 12-point font. Responses must address the aforementioned evaluation criteria.

All responses shall be submitted to LaRC electronically via email by 5:00pm EDT on April 8, 2011 to Brad Gardner ( and James Corliss ( Technical and programmatic questions should be directed to James Corliss ( and procurement questions should be directed to Brad Gardner (

Point of Contact

Name: Robert B. Gardner
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 757-864-2525
Fax: 757-864-7898

Name: Teresa M Hass
Title: Contracting Officer
Phone: 757-864-8496
Fax: 757-864-8863

SpaceRef staff editor.