NASA Solicits Proposals for Space Launch System Ideas

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NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., issued March 20 a research solicitation for advanced development proposals to support the Space Launch System (SLS), the human-rated, heavy-lift rocket the agency aims to launch for the first time in 2017. NASA expects to award $48 million in total funding later this year.

The NASA Research Announcement seeks proposals from industry and academia for “innovative advanced development in areas including concept development, trades and analyses, propulsion, structures, materials, manufacturing, avionics and software,” according to a NASA press release.

NASA said it is looking for proposals focused on making the SLS affordable and sustainable as the space shuttle-derived launcher evolves from a 70-metric-ton carrying vehicle to one capable of launching 130 metric tons to low Earth orbit.

“We are looking forward to hearing from both industry and academia on advanced development solutions that will enable the full capability of the evolved Space Launch System,” Mindy Niedermeyer, the proposal evaluation team chairwoman, said in a statement. “It’s an exciting time for NASA. These solutions will create entirely new developments in space technology, taking humans farther into space than ever before.”

The deadline for submitting proposals is May 15. NASA has budgeted $22 million for 2013, $14.5 million for 2014 and $11.5 million for 2015. Of those amounts, NASA expects to spend $1.5 million on academic awards worth no more than $250,000 apiece.