NASA plans to increase engagement with commercial communication and navigation services providers to support robotic spacecraft and human exploration near-space missions with an upcoming contract, according to a draft request for proposals (RFP).

The Near Space Network (NSN) Services contract will help support communications and navigation services for multiple customer missions across the NSN portfolio; including low earth orbit, medium earth orbit, the geostationary orbit, and lunar orbital regimes. The contract will run for 10 years with an estimated ceiling of $542 million.

“The objective is to foster the commercialization of the near-space region through increased private sector participation in providing communications and navigation services in the Near Space region,” contracting officer Sang Lee said in the draft RFP cover letter.

The contracts awarded to commercial services will be in two categories. Under category one, contracts – expected in May 2023 – will cover direct-to-Earth services to support orbital and sub-orbital science, technology, and human spaceflight missions through line-of-sight communications and tracking.

And under category two, contracts – expected in March 2023 – will cover relay services such as supporting customer missions, spacecraft, and payloads through the transmission of critical mission data between space assets and ground stations.

The NSN Services contracts will be based on the offeror’s ability to meet the specific technical acceptability standards set forth in the RFP, according to the draft RFP. The contract consists of five-year base and option periods. NASA will also hold an NSN Services industry day on July 27, 2022.

NASA will accept questions from those in the private sector on the draft RFP until July 20, 2022, and comments on the solicitation until July 29, 2022.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.