NASA has posted a request for information on power and propulsion concepts that can help the agency meet deep space exploration objectives.
The space agency said Tuesday seeks information on conceptual designs; current industry capabilities and development methods; and potential commercial applications of deep space power and solar electric propulsion technologies.
“Through the RFI, we hope to better understand industry’s current state-of-the-art and potential future capabilities for deep space power and propulsion,” said Michele Gates, NASA director of the Power Propulsion Element.
NASA also released synopsis for a broad agency announcement that seeks proposals for a research effort on the deep space application of advanced SEP, as part of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships program.
Gates said NASA will fund industry-led studies through the BAA “to identify the most urgent areas for focus over the next several years, for the benefit of human spaceflight, as well as commercial applications.”
NASA said the RFI and BAA will not lead to a contract award for the development of a power and propulsion platform since the agency is still in the initial stages of acquisition planning.
The agency plans to develop a flight unit payload that will be launched aboard the second integrated mission of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, which will be a crewed mission.
NASA eyes a lunar-orbiting, crew-tended spaceport that will serve as a “gateway” to deep space and will feature a habitat to extend crew time; provide docking functions; and allow servicing by logistics modules to support research and replenishment for deep space transport platforms.