NASA Considers Public-Private Partnerships on Space Communications

NASA is considering the use of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to expand its space communications network.

“The use of PPPs allow NASA and commercial entities to work as partners (as compared to a typical Government-contractor relationship) to develop and introduce new operational capabilities that NASA user missions might use, by shared investment, standards, and risks,” the agency said in a notice published on the federal acquisitions website.

“These new capabilities may help foster the growth of the commercial satellite communications relay services market (from low Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond) and provide benefits to future NASA missions in alignment with NASA envisioned Next Generation Architecture,” the notice said.

NASA Glenn Research Center is seeking proposals for trade studies and conceptual system designs and descriptions. The objectives include:

  • “Commercial service concepts
    • Determine the architecture and service concepts for optical and RF space services and develop the service management and operations aspects for mission users.
  • “Accommodations of the NASA provided optical payload/terminals
    • Determine the factors to incorporate NASA’s optical technology onto commercial spacecraft and the associated commercial space services.
  • “Public-private partnership for providing and receiving communication services
    • Determine costs, benefits, and terms for the Government and commercial partner with balanced risk. Assess market expectations, non-Government customer aspects, timeline, transition, and cost factors.”