NASA Seeks Public-Private Partnerships on Tipping Point Technologies

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is seeking proposals for U.S. industry-developed space technologies through its ‘Tipping Point’ solicitation, a public-private partnership opportunity to stimulate the commercial space sector, while also delivering technologies and capabilities needed for NASA, other government agencies, and commercial space missions.

The solicitation, titled “Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies,” is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), and addresses the need for technologies in strategic thrust areas, a high-level strategic implementation structure that serves to guide future investment plans for the directorate.

“This is our third Tipping Point solicitation, providing another opportunity to expand our existing partnerships with the private sector, strengthen the U.S. aerospace industry, while meeting NASA’s strategic goals,” said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for STMD at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “NASA-Industry partnerships have and will continue to play a critically important role in stimulating further investments in enabling technologies that may not have been developed and demonstrated otherwise.”

A technology is considered at a ‘tipping point’ if an investment in a demonstration of its capabilities will result in a significant advancement of the technology’s maturation, has a high likelihood of infusion into a commercial space application with a significant improvement in the ability to successfully bring the technology to market, and the technology is at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of at least 4 at time of submission of the preliminary proposal.

This Tipping Point Appendix is soliciting space technology proposals in the following STMD Strategic Thrust (ST) areas:

ST1: Expand Utilization of Space – develop technologies that enable new in-space capabilities for future NASA missions, other government agencies, and that have viable commercial applications.

ST2: Enable Efficient and Safe Transportation Into and Through Space – development and demonstration of technologies to enable lower cost, reliable access to space, and to advance in-space transportation capabilities with a focus on improving efficiency and reducing trip times for human and robotic missions.

ST3: Increase Access to Planetary Surfaces – enable landing larger payloads on planetary surfaces more precisely and safely, and improving the performance and reliability of Earth entry systems.

Each proposal to the Tipping Point solicitation must be spearheaded by a commercial firm or business incorporated in and operating in the U.S. Funding will occur through milestone payments as part of firm-fixed-price contracts that requires a minimum 25 percent contribution from the industry partner, with STMD covering up to $10 million per award over up to a 36-month period.

The complete solicitation may be found online at the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES). Mandatory preliminary proposals from eligible offerors are due Jan. 30, and those invited to submit a full proposal will have until May 30 to complete the submission process. Questions and comments about this solicitation should be submitted via email to:

STMD is responsible for developing the crosscutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed to achieve NASA missions. STMD rapidly innovates, develops, demonstrates, and infuses revolutionary, high-payoff technologies through transparent, collaborative partnerships, expanding the boundaries of the aerospace enterprise. Projects resulting from the Tipping Point solicitation will enable public-private partnerships managed by programs within STMD.

For more information about the Tipping Point solicitation, visit:

For more information about the NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit:

  • ThomasLMatula

    “Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies”

    Wow, buzz word overload 🙂

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    Already at TRL 4+ means NASA probably knew the product and names of the companies before it issued the solicitation. We will see when the awards get issued.

  • Jeff2Space

    There really aren’t many new technologies needed to reach the goals described in “ST2: Enable Efficient and Safe Transportation Into and Through Space”. What needs to happen there is to get NASA out of the space transportation business and let US private industry take over. SLS is not at all needed. ULA has been providing “heavy lift” via Delta IV Heavy for a long time and is currently working on Vulcan. Furthermore both SpaceX and Blue Origin are working on their own “heavy lift” launch vehicles. All three of these development efforts are costing a tiny fraction of SLS development costs. Furthermore, these efforts are costing NASA nothing. SLS is the biggest drain on NASA’s manned space budget and is becoming increasingly irrelevant as delays stack up on top of each other.

    Once commercial crew is flying, we’ll see how successful it is and that should determine if Orion is needed. If Orion is needed, fly it on a commercial “heavy” launch vehicle. The cost to “man rate” them is not prohibitive, as evidenced by NASA’s commercial crew program.

  • Michael Halpern

    Well its not like the companies with those pursuits are exactly low profile to the space community. It isn’t just SX and BO, there’s also Made in Space, Bigalow Aerospace, and others that qualify under the “space utilization” aspect.

  • Paul451

    Could be worse: “NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES)”

    How badly did someone want the acronym to spell “Inspire”? But they couldn’t just call the damn program “Inspire”, they had to force the backronym.

  • Michael Halpern

    Of course there’s STARGATE which is even worse, its a tracking station technology. And then there are double acronyms in military, Massive Ordinance Air Blast or Mother Of All Bombs for example.

  • Paul451

    Was MOAB named before the nickname “Mother Of All Bombs” was created or after? If before, then it doesn’t really count because MOAB doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a regular acronym. OTOH, if they back-formulated the name “Massive Ordinance Air Blast” because they wanted they acronym to be the same as “Mother Of All Bombs” then yes.

    It’s the latter that bothers me. Someone wants to call a mission “Messenger”, great, but instead of just calling it Messenger (like Pioneer, Voyager, Viking…), they have to create a phony acronym that spells MESSENGER.

  • Michael Halpern

    From my understanding Mother Of All Bombs was a an already existing term, but i don’t have a problem with it, i mean think about the kinds of people who have to come up with the acronyms..