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Suborbital Solicitations

NASA, for the second consecutive year, is actively seeking proposals for suborbital technology payloads and spacecraft capability enhancements capable of potentially revolutionizing future space missions.

NASA will help test selected technologies before they are used for their intended purpose and environment—being launched into and functioning in the dark, cold reaches of outer space. After the selected payloads or technologies are developed, they will be made available to NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program and paired with a commercial, suborbital, reusable launch service provider. Potential exists for a direct orbital flight opportunity if small spacecraft propulsion technologies are selected.

NASA’s offer is, perhaps understandably, not entirely selfless; that is, NASA officials seek to test technologies that will help the agency advance technology development in exploration, space operations, and other areas relevant to NASA’s missions, including the agency’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program.

“This call will select innovators to develop novel technology payloads that will provide significant improvements over current state-of-the-art systems,” describes Stephen Gaddis, Game Changing Development Program manager at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

This artist’s rendition shows the Neutron-star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER)/Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT) payload that NASA recently selected as its next Explorer Mission of Opportunity. The 56-telescope payload will fly on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Proposals are due by 17 June 2013 and will be accepted from U.S. or non-U.S. organizations, including NASA centers, other government agencies, federally funded research and development centers, educational institutions, and industry and nonprofit organizations.

NASA anticipates making as many as 18 awards this summer, with the majority of awards ranging in value from roughly $50,000 to $250,000 each. The total combined funding for this solicitation is expected to be approximately $2 million, based on availability of funds.

For more, visit NASA’s Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System website at

This mil/aero geek, initially concerned about the future of space travel after the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle program, is excited to see NASA enabling the commercial space growth and innovation.

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