14 November 2007
NASA Creates Unit to Hasten Dawning of Nukes on Moon
The Peacock Report


The eventual deployment of nuclear reactors on the Moon blasted a baby step closer to reality today, with NASA embarking upon the creation of a new unit tasked with bringing such a nuclear capability to fruition. The Technology Demonstration Unit (TDU) for Fission Surface Power (FSP) on Nov. 14 began searching for potential contractors capable of helping the new entity to initially develop and test a "simulated nuclear heat source," according to a presolicitation notice that The Peacock Report (TPR) located via a routine search of the FedBizOpps database. The TDU is "planned as a 5 or 6-year activity with concept definition and risk reduction that could lead to the start of a potential flight development program in the future," the document says:

FSP systems provide a potential option to support future human exploration missions on the Moon and Mars. FSP is a current technology project under the Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) sponsored by the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.

TPR broke the story early last year that the Bush Administration envisions building nuclear facilities and robotic spacecraft-manufacturing plants on the Moon as a critical step in eventually sending humans to Mars (see TPR, 03/23/2006; New Details of U.S. Moon-Base Project Reveal Nuclear Intentions).

23 March 2006
New Details of U.S. Moon-Base Project Reveal Nuclear Intentions
The Peacock Report

The first steps toward building a manned lunar base and eventually sending astronauts to Mars quietly unfolded in recent days, as NASA issued a call to industry and academia for proposals on how to best proceed with those projects. Although President Bush in January revealed his preliminary intentions to jump-start future U.S. space missions, The Peacock Report (TPR) this week obtained planning documents revealing the possibility of constructing nuclear power plants on the moon, where “both human and robotic agents” would operate technology production facilities.

NASA has begun searching for a contractor to first devise a Lunar Base Report, which would provide specifications and graphic renderings of a conceptual lunar base. The creation of what are known as “In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) production facilities,” which would extract mineral and other resources from the moon and Mars to produce materials, also will be addressed via the report. Additionally, it would evaluate the potential role of private, commercial ventures in outer space.

Without fanfare, NASA on Wednesday called for concept papers that would tackle separate but intertwined initiatives aimed at constructing a lunar base as well as landing video-enabled payloads on the moon. NASA wants to hire a contractor to conduct a “External Study” on the ability of industry to carry out the manned race-back-to-space, which hypothetically would begin with what is called the Lunar Robotic Landing Challenge (LRLC). The LRLC would involve private ventures competing to “launch a payload from the surface of the Earth and land it on the surface of the Moon. The payload must perform certain functions and ultimately transmit images back to Earth for proof of the Challenge accomplishment.”

NASA is calling for proposals from contractors to assess the viability of conducting the LRLC. The selected contractor would, in essence, review the capabilities of other contractors expressing interest in in the Challenge.

“One study is envisioned for award under this procurement action,” a NASA document says. “The study will collect industry perspectives on the LRLC and analyze that information. The results will include an assessment of the state of the industry and recommendations regarding the relevance of and implications on the LRLC. The results of this study will be made available to decision-makers".

Segments of the proposal to carry out the study appear to contradict Bush’s statements on international involvement, as it raise questions about the role of other nations in the space program.

For instance, earlier this year the president said, “We'll invite other nations to share the challenges and opportunities of this new era of discovery. The vision I outline today is a journey, not a race. And I call on other nations to join us on this journey, in the spirit of cooperation and friendship.”

However, the planned LRLC study calls on the contractor to “address the implications of possible decisions in policy issues such as… the inclusion/exclusion of non-U.S. participants.” The study therefore requires the contractor to “identify the pros and cons for possible decisions that may be taken” on issues such as “Participation of non-U.S. entities” and “U.S. vs. foreign launch sites.”

The separate issue of what are technically known as the Mars Scout Space Flight Missions reveals more detail on where the U.S.-global partner delineation may be found. NASA, the documents say, will hold the reins of the “Mars Scout Mission investigations launched by December 31, 2011, that involve complete spaceflight missions.” The “Mars Scout Mission of Opportunity,“ on the other hand, involves “scientific investigations through participation in space missions sponsored by organizations other than the NASA Mars Exploration Program including missions sponsored by non-U.S. organizations.”

The cost cap specifically for the Mars Exploration Program is anticipated to be $475 million, in terms of fiscal year 2006 dollars (also known as “constant year dollars“). That amount is equivalent to approximately $531 million “real year dollars.” The Mission of Opportunity cost cap is anticipated to be $35 million in FY 2006 dollars.

FBO for Vendors

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General Information

Document Type: Presolicitation Notice
Solicitation Number: NNC08ZRP007R
Posted Date: Nov 14, 2007
Original Response Date: Jan 31, 2008
Current Response Date: Jan 31, 2008
Original Archive Date: Nov 14, 2008
Current Archive Date: Nov 14, 2008
Classification Code: A -- Research & Development
Set Aside: N/A
Naics Code: 541712 -- Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Glenn Research Center, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, OH 44135


Technical Description: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Glenn Research Center (GRC) at Lewis Field is planning the development of a Technology Demonstration Unit (TDU) for Fission Surface Power (FSP). The goal of the TDU is to assemble the major components (heat source, power conversion, heat rejection, power management and distribution) of a FSP system with a simulated nuclear heat source and conduct integrated system testing in thermal-vacuum to evaluate overall performance. FSP systems provide a potential option to support future human exploration missions on the Moon and Mars. FSP is a current technology project under the Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) sponsored by the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. The FSP technology project is planned as a 5 or 6-year activity with concept definition and risk reduction that could lead to the start of a potential flight development program in the future. ETDP is managed by Langley Research Center. FSP is managed by GRC with support from Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and several Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories.

NASA GRC will be soliciting a two-phased contract for the design, fabrication and testing of a single, full-scale TDU Power Conversion Unit (PCU). The PCU would accept heat input from a simulated nuclear heat source (at approximately 800 to 900 K), generate electrical power, and reject waste heat to a water cooling system (at approximately 350 to 450K). The gross FSP system electrical power is currently estimated at about 48 kW, provided by four parallel-string power conversion units. This development activity will focus on a PCU electrical output of 12 kW. Candidate power conversion technologies include free-piston Stirling cycle, closed Brayton cycle, and organic Rankine cycle. The final testing would be conducted at a government thermal-vacuum facility. The simulated nuclear heat source and water cooling system would be Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). The two-phased contract consists of Phase I: Design and Analysis, followed by Phase II: Fabrication and Testing. 

Contracting Approach: The Government plans to conduct a phased acquisition involving a competitive down-selection process using the "progressive competition" down selection technique in which new, formal solicitations are not issued for phases subsequent to the initial phase. The subsequent phase proposal is anticipated to be requested by a letter accompanied by the appropriate proposal preparation and evaluation information. The Phase I design and analysis is anticipated to be a Cost Plus Fixed Fee contract with an estimated period of performance of 15 months. Multiple contract awards are planned for Phase I. The Phase II fabrication and testing is anticipated to be a Cost Plus Fixed Fee contract with an estimated performance of 27 months for a total estimated period of performance of 42 months.

Competitions for identified subsequent phase will build on the results of previous Phase I. 

The award criteria for subsequent phases will include demonstrated completion of specified previous Phase I requirements.

The Government expects that only the initial phase contractors will be capable of successfully competing for the subsequent Phase II requirements. Proposals for the subsequent phase will be requested from these contractors.

The Government does not intend to issue a new, formal solicitation for subsequent phase(s) as this acquisition is identified as a "progressive competition" and the mechanism for providing pertinent subsequent phase proposal information (e.g., statements of work, specifications, proposal preparation instructions, and evaluation factors for award) will be provided through a letter Request For Proposal.

Each subsequent phase of the acquisition will be synopsized in accordance with FAR 5.201 and 5.203.

Notwithstanding the expectation that only the initial phase contractors will be capable of successfully competing for the subsequent phase(s), proposals from all responsible sources submitted by the specified due date will be considered. In order to contend for subsequent phase awards, however, such prospective offerors must demonstrate a design maturity equivalent to that of the prior phase contractors. Failure to fully and completely demonstrate the appropriate level of design maturity may render the proposal unacceptable with no further consideration for contract award.

The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12. See Note 26.

The NAICS Code and Size Standard are 541712 and 500 employees, respectively.

All responsible sources may submit an offer which shall be considered by the agency.

The estimated release date of the RFP is on or about December 3, 2007 with an estimated offer due date of on or about January 31, 2008.

An ombudsman has been appointed -- See NASA Specific Note "B". The solicitation and any documents related to this procurement will be available over the Internet.

These documents will reside on a World Wide Web (WWW) server, which may be accessed using a WWW browser application.

The Internet site, or URL, for the NASA/GRC Business Opportunities home page is http://prod.nais.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/eps/bizops.cgi?gr=D&pin=22 

Prospective offerors shall notify this office of their intent to submit an offer.

It is the offeror's responsibility to monitor the Internet site for the release of the solicitation and amendments (if any).

Potential offerors will be responsible for downloading their own copy of the solicitation and amendments (if any).

Any referenced notes may be viewed at the following URLs linked below.

All contractual and technical questions must be submitted in writing (e-mail or fax).     Telephone questions will not be accepted.

Point of Contact

Michael J. Kinkelaar, Contract Specialist, Phone 216-433-2736, Fax 216-433-2480, Email Michael.J.Kinkelaar@nasa.gov 

Email your questions to Michael J. Kinkelaar at Michael.J.Kinkelaar@nasa.gov

Additional Information

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