Draft RFP released for 'Flight and Payload Integration Services for Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles'

Yesterday we released the draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for 'Flight and Payload integration Services for Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles'. The purpose of releasing the draft RFP is for information and planning purposes and to allow industry the opportunity to verify reasonableness and feasibility of the requirement, as well as promote competition. Prospective offerors are invited to submit written comments or questions to Andrea Basham no later than May 13, 2011. More information can be found in the Presolicitation Synopsis.

Some key target dates for the procurement of Flight and Payload Integration Services as listed in the draft RFP are: 

April 26, 2011: Draft RFP Release Date
May 13, 2011: Questions about draft RFP due

Target dates
May 20, 2011: RFP Release Date
June 20, 2011: Proposal Due Date
Aug 22, 2011: Selection/Award Date
Sep 08, 2011: Award Date

Returning from a successful NSRC-2011

We’ve just returned from the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2011 in Orlando, Florida where we’ve had many fruitful discussions with both researchers interested in flying payloads and flight providers interested in offering their platforms through our program. The conference was well attended (close to 400 registered participants) with many sessions covering a wide range of topics.

Flight Opportunities Program workshop
We gathered useful feedback during our Flight Opportunities Program workshop which we will use to refine our program development. During the workshop we also demo’ed our new website (yep, this one) and released a comparison table of the different platforms based on the May 2010 public RFI responses.

Plenary session on REM Payload Specialists – Flight Training, Roles & Responsibilities.
Plenary session on REM Payload Specialists – Flight Training, Roles & Responsibilities.

Neil Milburn of Armadillo Aerospace asking a question to the panel.
Neil Milburn of Armadillo Aerospace asking a question to the panel.

Douglas “Dougal” Maclise (Flight Opportunities Program Payload Manager) in conversation with the panel.
Douglas “Dougal” Maclise (Flight Opportunities Program Payload Manager) in conversation with the panel.

Flight Opportunities Program exhibit
At our Flight Opportunities Program exhibit table this year we had the two payload racks on display which we developed for the developmental flights coming up with Masten’s Xaero platform and Armadillo’s Super Mod. One of the racks showed our current flight configuration with the Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor ...Read More

Successful fit & function test

Successful fit & function test
Fresh snow on the ground and surrounding hills greeted us when we arrived.

UPDATE: A video of the fit & function test is available here

Written by Dougal Maclise, Flight Opportunities Payload Manager

 The Flight Opportunities – CRuSR team passed an important milestone early January (4-5-6 January) when we completed the fit and function test of the two payloads (ADS-B and SFEM) in the Masten Space Systems vehicle, Xaero.

 Bruce Webbon, the payload manager for the CRuSR developmental test flights, brought the ADS-B and SFEM payloads along with their development teams down to the Mojave Air and Space Port where the Masten facilities are located for testing with the Xaero vehicle prior to the first test flight.

 The big issues to be resolved during these fit and function tests were would everything fit in the payload canister of the Xaero vehicle and would any of the payloads interfere with the operation of the vehicle avionics. The main concern was electro-magnetic interference (EMI) between the ADS-B and the vehicle GPS system.

Karolyn Ronzano programming the Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor (SFEM) payload prior to the test.

 Karolyn Ronzano, from the small satellite group at Ames, leads a team that has developed the SFEM or ...Read More

Reusable Launch Vehicles Licensing Workshop

FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation is organizing a Reusable Launch Vehicle Licensing Workshop
When: January 26, 2011 from 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Where: Mojave Air & Space Port Conference Room
RSVP by Jan 21 to Michelle.Murray [at] faa.gov

Successful first static test firing of Masten's engine XA-0.1-E2 "Brutus"

(via RLV News)

NASA seeks proposals for technology flight demonstrations and information about surborbital flight services

Last week NASA issued both an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for 'Opportunities for Payloads Requiring a Near-zero or Reduced Gravity Environment' and a Request for Information (RFI) for 'Flight and Payload Integration Services'. More information about these two announcements is available in the NASA Press Release:

WASHINGTON -- NASA is seeking proposals from researchers interested in testing new technologies during suborbital flights. The agency also is requesting information from commercial suborbital reusable launch vehicle providers and commercial payload integrators about carrying the technology payloads.

The selected payloads will fly on aircraft that provide parabolic flight trajectories and on suborbital reusable launch vehicles capable of flying to altitudes above 62 miles. The flights will expose the payloads to reduced gravity and near-zero gravity environments.

"During these flights, researchers will be able to test their technologies in a range of microgravity environments and share their data with NASA -- data NASA can use when planning future missions," said Bobby Braun, NASA chief technologist at the agency's headquarters in Washington.

The solicitation is being made by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, which is designed to foster development of a commercial reusable suborbital transportation industry while developing new technologies and improving microgravity research. When available ...Read More

Successful CRuSR Payload Readiness Review (PRR)

On November 23rd we held our first successful Payload Readiness Review (PRR) for payloads flying on the first CRuSR development flights with Masten's Xaero vehicle. The two payloads under review were the Suborbital Flight Environment Monitor (SFEM) developed in-house at NASA Ames Research Center, and the FAA-provided ADS-B transponder (see the payloads section for more information). The purpose of the PRR was to review the payload status and surface any remaining issues from the payload point of view in order to safely pass the flight readiness review scheduled for late December.

Both payloads are mounted together in a payload rack developed at NASA Ames Research Center. The payload rack is designed to acommodate payloads on both Xaero and Super Mod. It abstracts away the different vehicles similar to how food containers are used on airplanes. It is able to hold several payloads and provides for easy mounting and exchange of payloads between flights. More information about the payload rack will be made available in the coming weeks.

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