The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Launch Enterprise Systems Directorate (LE), Small Launch and Targets Division (LEX), Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP), Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM is interested in obtaining a Statement of Capabilities (SOC) demonstrating industry’s current or future ability to meet potential US government Rapid Space Launch requirements.
The capability that on-orbit assets provide to the United States cannot be understated. The ever-growing reliance on this capability, combined with the increasing contested nature of space, presents a potential critical vulnerability. The US Air Force has been tasked with mitigating this vulnerability. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that resiliency of our space capabilities is a topic of significant importance to our national defense. Many efforts are ongoing to strengthen our space resiliency such as: improved space situational awareness, increased space vehicle defense and survivability, distributed constellations with a greater number of smaller satellites, utilization of on-orbit spares, and responsive space launch. The intention of this RFI is for industry to respond with current and planned rapid space launch capabilities and to provide input into future rapid space launch efforts.
The US Air Force is investigating the possible procurement of a capability to rapidly launch and deploy space payloads critical to national security in an ultra-responsive manner. The objective is 24 hours from “call up” notification to on-orbit capability.
Notional Capability Procurement Approach:
The US Air Force notional plan is to procure this capability through a phased approach.
1. Request for Information (this action) 2. Rapid Space Launch Industry Day Tentatively scheduled for 29-30 July 2019 in El Segundo, CA 3. Studies and Tabletop Exercises contract award(s) 4. Capability Demonstration contract award(s) 5. Operational capability contract award(s)
Capability Demonstration Assumptions:
The intent of any resulting demonstration(s), as outlined in step 4 above, is to prove out the rapid space launch capability on an initially smaller scale. Therefore, some assumptions are being made:
- The demonstration scenario will be based upon a rapid reconstitution requirement in response to an unforeseen event, however robust demonstration solutions enabling operational capabilities beyond rapid reconstitution scenarios may influence the operational capability ultimately pursued.
- The space vehicle payload is ready for flight and prepositioned at the intended launch location.
- For the demonstration, the intended orbit is low earth orbit and the intended payload is a single Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) class space vehicle or smaller with a mass up to 220kg, however demonstrated solutions that can scale to orbits and payloads of national security value are also of great interest.
- Survivability (the ability to withstand or avoid attack) of the rapid space launch capability is not a requirement of the demonstration, but will be a consideration for future operational capabilities.
- National priority would preclude range standard timelines in an actual responsive space launch event, but standard range preparation would still apply for demonstration.
- Demonstration requires the space vehicle to be delivered to the intended orbit successfully with verification of space vehicle operations by the Government after injection.
Description of Work:
In preparation for the Rapid Space Launch Industry Day please submit a Statement of Capability (SOC) addressing how the US Air Force could leverage the domestic space launch industry to procure a future rapid space launch capability. Please specify rapid space launch mass to orbit capabilities and provide both a description of the technical approach with risks identified, as well as a timeline showing each major step required to successfully conduct a demonstration launch in an ultra-rapid manner. Identified risks should describe both probability and consequence. Please include feedback on the listed interest items below, and on the demonstration assumptions outlined above.
Below are some interest items:
- What are the obstacles to providing this capability – technical, procedural, regulatory or otherwise? What recommendations do you have to remove these obstacles?
- Provide an assessment of feasibility of a 24-hour call-up notification to on-orbit capability. If a 24-hour call-up is deemed infeasible or impractical based on constraints listed in #1 above or due to cost, manpower, etc., please provide a recommended or optimal call-up window for response to a national emergency event.
- What development – Launch Vehicle (LV), Concept of Operations (CONOPS) or otherwise – would be required to get to the 24-hour target? What is the projected cost and schedule of such development?
- What logistical footprint, to include but not limited to any range and tracking assets, would be required and where?
- What work or items would need to be accomplished or approved ahead of time? Specifically please identify the delineation of work to be accomplished before and after “call-up” notification, in order to meet the timeline.
- What would the CONOPS look like both prior to and after the “call-up” notification?
- Other consideration or ideas not covered above.
The SOCs may be in presentation format and/or as a written narrative.
An opportunity to present responses in an open forum or in one-on-one sessions with the Government will be available at the Rapid Space Launch Industry Day. More information to follow on FBO.
The information contained herein is based on the best information available at the time of publication, is subject to revision, and is not binding on the Government. NAICS 481212, size standard 1,500 employees applies for this proposed acquisition. The Government encourages responses from small and small disadvantaged businesses. The Government will not recognize any costs associated with submission of information in response to this notice.
SB Coordination: 19-052.
Contracting Office Address:
483 North Aviation Blvd
El Segundo, California 90245-2808
Place of Performance:
Primary Point of Contact.:
Alicia L. Cawley,
Secondary Point of Contact: