NASA’s Bold Move: Acquiring Satellites to Revolutionize Earth Observation

In a parallel development, NASA is actively seeking input from U.S. companies regarding the future of low Earth orbit (LEO) destinations for research and technology development. This initiative, known as the Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Development Program, underscores NASA’s commitment to ensuring continued access to space after the planned retirement of the International Space Station (ISS) in 2030.

Through a request for information (RFI), NASA is soliciting feedback from industry experts to refine its requirements for new commercial space destinations. These requirements will help establish NASA’s human-rating standards, ensuring the safety and reliability of LEO operations and transportation. The agency is also eager to receive industry feedback on these draft requirements to ensure they align with the needs of commercial space ventures.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has taken a significant step towards bolstering Earth observation capabilities by issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for the Geostationary Extended Observations Spacecraft Implementation program. This initiative aims to launch multiple satellites for the GeoXO series, a project developed in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These satellites are set to play a crucial role in addressing various environmental challenges.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Invites Bids for Cutting-Edge GeoXO Satellite Program

The RFP outlines NASA Goddard’s intent to award a cost-plus-award-fee hardware contract for the project. The initial contract includes the development and launch of three satellites, with options for four additional spacecraft and the possibility of special engineering studies if required. This comprehensive contract spans an impressive 15-year period, offering 10 years of on-orbit operations and five years of on-orbit storage for each flight model.

The GeoXO satellites will be equipped with state-of-the-art imaging and communication payloads, marking a pivotal advancement in Earth observation technology. The program’s first satellite is slated for launch by April 2032, with a contract award expected in May 2024. Vendors interested in participating in this groundbreaking endeavor have until November 30 to submit their responses to the RFP.

An industry briefing day is scheduled for Tuesday, October 12, with responses to the RFI due by Wednesday, November 17. This initiative aims to foster a vibrant commercial marketplace in LEO, where NASA can leverage private industry services efficiently and cost-effectively.

Phil McAlister, Director of Commercial Spaceflight at NASA Headquarters, emphasized the importance of this step, stating, “This RFI is a significant next step in transitioning low Earth orbit operations to the private sector, allowing NASA to be one of many customers for services. These requirements will be the foundation upon which the companies can design safe systems.”

NASA’s goal is clear: to establish a thriving commercial marketplace in LEO, reducing costs and encouraging innovation while enabling the agency to focus on its Artemis missions to the Moon in preparation for future missions to Mars.

For more information about NASA’s commercial space strategy and details about attending the industry briefing day, please refer to the RFI on SAM.gov. Stay tuned for updates on the industry day and response deadlines as the agency continues to shape the future of space exploration and research.