TPS_MSR-NOI – Sources Sought – Notice of Intent to Sole Source – TPS Production for Mars Sample Return

Aug 19, 2020 | Sources Sought

NASA/ Ames Research Center has a requirement for Thermal Protective System (TPS) products in support of the Mars Sample Return (MSR) Earth Entry Vehicle (EEV) which would provide the following:

  1. Fabricate carbon FiberForm™ billets and resin infuse those substrates to yield Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator – Domestic (PICA-D). These articles will provide the necessary TPS for the backshell of the MSR EEV.
  2. Resin infuse 3D woven 54-inch Heatshield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology (HEEET) engineering preforms in support of design and development of flight hardware designs for a single-piece, 1.4-meter diameter HEEET heat shield for the forebody of the MSR EEV.
  3. Resin infuse 3D woven 80-inch HEEET preforms for a single-piece, 1.4-meter diameter HEEET heat shield for the forebody of the MSR EEV.
  4. Fabricate carbon FiberForm™ billets and resin infuse those substrates to yield PICA-D. These articles will provide the necessary TPS for the aeroshells of the Dragonfly and Mars Sample Return Lander (SRL) missions. 

NASA/ Ames Research Center intends to issue a sole source contract to acquire the items from Fiber Materials, Inc. (FMI) located at 5 Morin Street, Biddeford, ME 04005 pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1) and FAR 6.302-1, Only One Responsible Source and No Other Supplies or Services will Satisfy Requirements.

FMI has a long history of manufacturing PICA-D TPS and other lightweight ablator materials and components for NASA and its prime customers and has experience with HEEET materials. FMI has a unique capacity to fabricate billets and/or near-net-shape single piece articles of carbon FiberForm™ using a proprietary process and resin infuse FMI supplied carbon FiberForm™ to yield a NASA certified PICA-D TPS or to resin infuse NASA supplied 3D carbon weave to yield NASA certified HEEET TPS.

FMI is also unique in that it has relevant process specifications, staff and training in place to manufacture PICA-D and/or HEEET immediately without the need to purchase and/or modify capital equipment or facilities. This in-house capability will allow NASA to meet critical MSR milestones necessary for the MSR EEV project to perform their roles, as directed by NASA Headquarters.

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

Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort electronically via email to Gary Shelley at gary.a.shelley@nasa.gov not later than 5 p.m. PDT on September 2, 2020.  Such capabilities/qualifications will be evaluated solely for the purpose of determining whether or not to conduct this acquisition on a competitive basis.  A determination by the Government not to compete this acquisition on a full and open competition basis, based upon responses to this notice, is solely within the discretion of the Government.

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