Status Report

Request for Information on the Acquisition Strategy for the Orbital Space Plane

By SpaceRef Editor
May 6, 2003
Filed under , ,

General Information

  • Document Type: Special Notice
  • Solicitation Number: NASA-SNOTE-030506-001
  • Posted Date: May 06, 2003
  • Original Response Date:
  • Original Archive Date: May 06, 2004
  • Current Archive Date:

Contracting Office Address

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


Request for Information on the Acquisition Strategy for Design, Development, and Operation of an Orbital Space Plane System This is a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to seek other appropriate government agency and industry/contractor comments and inputs on the acquisition strategy for the design, development, production, and operation activities of an Orbital Space Plane (OSP) System.

This information will be used in development of the OSP Program’s Acquisition Strategy Plan. As mandated in NASA’s Integrated Space Transportation Plan, a crew transport vehicle is the crucial component of an OSP System, reflecting NASA’s need to ferry space station crewmembers and ensure that a capability exists for crew rescue in an emergency situation. It is the Government’s intent to foster competition and facilitate an efficient and effective acquisition process.

Receipt of pertinent information and questions will foster a better understanding of the OSP System requirements and industry’s capabilities for satisfying those requirements. Lessons learned from other government agencies experienced in innovative systems acquisition management will assist NASA in establishing an effective strategy for the design, development, production, operation, and sustainment of an integrated OSP System focused on capabilities, not assets. This early exchange of information can also help identify and resolve concerns or questions regarding the OSP System acquisition strategy, which impacts all future phases of the OSP Program and all interested parties. In this context, interested parties include potential offerors, system end users, government acquisition and support personnel, other government agencies, and other parties involved in the conduct or outcome of the acquisition.

The OSP Program Office, located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, in conjunction with NASA Headquarters and other NASA Centers, is in the process of identifying known and anticipated concerns, issues, and decision points for the OSP System. This review includes all activities, processes, procedures, personnel, hardware, software, vehicles, and infrastructure necessary to satisfy all requirements for implementing an OSP System.

Specifically, this RFI seeks information relating to the items

A) Development of a Performance and Risk-Based Acquisition Management strategy to maximize design, development, production, operation, safety, and sustainment effectiveness while minimizing total life cycle cost.

B) Appropriate management structure for ownership, operation, and sustainment of the OSP System (e.g., Government Owned/Contractor Operated, Contractor Owned/Contractor Operated, or other)

C) Transition between the various phases of the Program (e.g., Design, Development, Test and Evaluation-DDT&E, production, certification, operations, etc.). For example, should there be a single contract for all phases, separate contracts for each phase, or some combination?

D) Technical, economic, and management complexity of operating on a single ELV family or multiple ELV families.

E) Appropriate mix of modeling and simulation versus testing to certify and qualify the OSP System.

F) Best strategy to develop and implement upgrades to the OSP System. For instance, should the Program utilize a spiral development process as sometimes used in the DoD, or is there another process that would be of benefit?

G) Advantages and disadvantages of the Government and the OSP System contractor(s)/ contractor teams agreeing on a common set of information management systems, data management systems, and other types of software products (e.g., project schedule, risk management, CAD, CM/DM, etc.).

H) Recommendations on successful programs that should be contacted for benchmarking and developing a set of “best practices” that can be used to guide development of the OSP System.

I) Suggestions for improving the management structure (of the Government or the contractor(s)), or other areas that would lead to more efficient DDT&E and operations phases of the OSP System.

J) Comments and/or suggestions for improvement on the tentative draft acquisition schedule (attached).

K) Comments and/or suggestions on establishing an Industry Observation Program for potential competitors, e.g., information about the value of facilities tours, meetings, industry reviews, etc.

L) Possible breakout of the proposed Statement of Work (SOW) into subsystems to allow selection of multiple contractors depending on expertise and other evaluation criteria.

M) Utility of a Statement of Objectives (SOO) that captures Level I & II Requirements but shifts the responsibility for preparing detailed SOWs for Program Phases to the Offerors.

N) The Government is considering employment of a “Flexible Progressive Competition” acquisition approach. See NASA FAR Supplement Subpart 1817.73 – Phased Acquisition. Under this acquisition approach the government would define and solicit comprehensive proposals for all program phases through, for example, verification/certification/1st flight of the OSP System (e.g., PDR, CDR, Production, and Flight Verification/Certification).

The Government would retain the flexibility to (1) select a single contractor and award a comprehensive contract through OSP System verification/certification, or (2) select multiple contractors and award contracts through a discrete program phase (e.g., PDR) with options through certification or 1st flight and make subsequent down-selection(s) at later program phases to be determined by the NASA. Proposals for subsequent down-selection(s) would be obtained through a less formal solicitation and may only require updates to the comprehensive proposal received as a result of the initial solicitation. The issues delineated above are not intended to be exhaustive.

Respondents are encouraged to provide any additional comments that will help the Program develop the best OSP System acquisition strategy. The Government may ask respondents additional or follow-up questions. Any information obtained as a result of this RFI is intended to be used by the Government on a non-attribution basis for program planning and acquisition strategy development. Providing data/information that is limited or restricted for use by the Government for that purpose would be of very little value and such restricted/limited data/information is not solicited.

Additional OSP Program information is available at either or This RFI is being used to obtain information for planning purposes only and the Government does not presently intend to award a contract at this time. As stipulated in FAR 15.201(e), responses to this notice are not considered offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract.

This RFI is subject to FAR 52.215-3. All responses need to be provided in MS Word document format, both hard copy and electronic media. Font should be Times New Roman, size 12. Responses should not exceed 2 pages per item with the total response not exceeding 30 pages. Please submit responses no later than May 23, 2003, to NASA/MSFC Procurement Office, Attn: PS51/Walt Melton, Contracting Officer, Marshall Space Flight Center, AL 35812. Additional questions should be provided to Walt Melton via e-mail: .

A copy of any questions should be sent to Mark Stiles via e-mail:

Email your questions to Walter S. Melton III at

SpaceRef staff editor.