80LARC20C0002ISRUCONOPS – Sources Sought – Concept of Operations (ConOps) for In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Propellant Liquefaction utilizing Lunar Surface Regolith

Sep 23, 2020 | Sources Sought

NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has a requirement for design, trade and architectural studies and experimental operations for a complete Concept of Operations (ConOps) for In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Propellant Liquefaction utilizing Lunar Surface Regolith.  The work will consist of design studies including plant payload as well as a system study of payload operations with viable Commercial Lander Payload Service (CLPS) lander systems and experimental efforts to mature the capabilities of water extraction from frozen regolith simulants in vacuum conditions.  NASA intends to issue a sole-source modification  to contract 80LARC20C0002 with Blue Origin Federation, LLC to incorporate additional requirements in the existing contract which is currently for design, development, fabrication, and testing of a full-scale hydrogen liquefaction system for rocket propellant production on the Moon that will be proven in a thermal vacuum chamber on Earth. The period of performance for the contract is anticipated to remain unchanged at three years.

The added effort ensures technical gaps in ISRU Liquefaction approaches are closed in a truly comprehensive and quantitative manner as both plant manufacturer and available launch provider; to include payload capacities, landing operations and plant payload extraction and initialization.  Additionally, the effort shall include microwave modeling of lunar resource extraction and utilization and supporting experimental efforts in relevant lunar vacuum conditions to validate availability of adequate plant influent supply.  Because of the existing effort to develop a Propellant Liquefaction Plant Prototype under contract 80LARC20C002, there is a unique capability to directly integrate the research and studies necessary for ISRU propellant plant transport and operation into the development of the plant itself.  This includes integration of plant initiation strategies for plant delivery, offload, initial set-up, establishment, commissioning and operation.  Integrating these studies during plant design and development allows for the refinement of system and operational efficiencies and improvements that not possible in any standalone effort.  

In order to support NASA’s return of humans to the Moon, as required by National Space Policy Directive-1, and to be capable of conducting lunar operations that will require availability of both liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, it is necessary to modify this contract to include the supporting design, trade, and architectural studies and experimental operations for landed liquefaction plant services at this time.  Blue Origin Federation has the expertise and unique capabilities to perform this added work.  It would not be feasible for NASA to attempt to obtain this effort through a different source and separate contract as it would adversely impact the technical maturation and comprehensiveness of this capability and its availability to support lunar operations within project milestones which those capabilities will be required.  

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

Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to provide design, trade, and architectural studies and experimental efforts for a complete ConOps, in writing to the identified point of contact not later than 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on October 7, 2020 with the subject “Concept of Operations (ConOps) for In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Propellant Liquefaction Capabilities Statement.” Such capabilities/qualifications will be evaluated solely for the purpose of determining whether or not to conduct this procurement on a competitive basis. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed effort on a full and open competition basis, based upon responses to this notice, is solely within the discretion of the government.

Oral communications are not acceptable in response to this notice.

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

NASA Clause 1852.215-84, Ombudsman, is applicable. The Center Ombudsman for this acquisition can be found at http://prod.nais.nasa.gov/pub/pub_library/Omb.html

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