NASA Releases Draft RFP for Suborbital Spaceflights

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NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist is giving industry until May 13 to comment on a draft solicitation for flight and payload integration services for suborbital reusable launch vehicles the U.S. space agency intends to hire to fly technology demonstrations and other experiments to the edge of space.

The draft request for proposal (RFP) issued April 26 by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., is aimed at U.S. companies developing suborbital reusable launch vehicles capable of carrying — at minimum — the equivalent of a 1-kilogram cubesat, a standardized miniature spacecraft measuring 10 centimeters on a side.

The solicitation is open to commercial suborbital vehicles that are at least 80 percent reusable by mass and capable of reaching a minimum altitude of 6 kilometers. At this flight level, NASA says, the launch vehicle must be capable of a vertical, controlled landing within 10 meters of the intended landing point. NASA also is interested in buying flights to a 20-kilometer minimum altitude and 100-kilometer minimum altitude. NASA did not specify a precision, vertical landing for these higher flights.