NASA Flight Opportunities Program Seeks Additional Flight Providers

Northwestern University researchers gathered data for their foam experiment during parabolic flight. (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center has released a solicitation for additional providers to its Flight and Payload Integration Services contract for the Flight Opportunities program. This contract allows companies to fly research and development technology payloads on suborbital vehicles that provide exposure to space and space-relevant environments.

Demand for suborbital testing has increased as researchers develop technologies that will enable NASA’s future missions, including to the Moon and Mars. As such, NASA is issuing this solicitation to increase the available flight vehicle options for testing.

The contract requirements specify five flight profiles, for which three are currently being solicited:

  • Reduced gravity with space environment: Technologies will be launched to a maximum altitude where they will experience a short period (several minutes) of microgravity for testing before returning to Earth.
  • Space environment with free-fall descent: Payloads, such as thermal protection or deceleration systems for re-entry technologies, will be released at the highest point of the launch trajectory for a rapid free-fall return to Earth.
  • Controlled descent with controlled vertical landing: This profile enables testing and validation of entry, descent and landing (EDL) techniques for prospective Moon and Mars landers.

Respondents must be a United States entity. Typical platforms will include (but are not limited to) spacecraft, sounding rockets, and EDL testbeds that have a demonstrated capability of meeting one or more of the above flight profiles.

Proposals are due no later than 12 p.m. PDT June 15, 2020.

Interested respondents can view the full solicitation  online. Questions related to this request for proposals (RFP) should be submitted to the contracting officer  referenced in the solicitation.

Flight Opportunities, part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, facilitates rapid demonstration of promising technologies for space exploration, discovery, and the expansion of space commerce through suborbital testing with industry flight providers. The program matures capabilities needed for NASA missions and commercial applications while strategically investing in the growth of the U.S. commercial spaceflight industry.

The Flight Opportunities program is managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the solicitation and evaluation of technologies to be tested and demonstrated on commercial flight vehicles.