Editor’s note: This blog was updated Dec. 5 with the latest on the agency’s request for proposals for the U.S. deorbit spacecraft.
NASA has updated a request for proposal from U.S. industry for the U.S. Deorbit Vehicle (USDV), a spacecraft meant to safely deorbit the International Space Station as part of its planned retirement.
To maximize value to the government and enhance competition, the acquisition will allow offerors flexibility in proposing Firm Fixed Price or Cost Plus Incentive Fee for the Design, Development, Test and Evaluation phase, as well as for the Production, Assembly, Integration, and Test phase. The agency also has extended the deadline for proposals to Feb. 12, 2024. At this time, the USDV contract award is planned for late May/early June 2024, and the final contract value will be determined at contract award.
Since 1998, five space agencies (the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the State Space Corporation “Roscosmos”) have operated the International Space Station, with each responsible for managing and controlling the hardware it provides. The station was designed to be interdependent and relies on contributions from across the partnership to function. The United States, Japan, Canada, and the participating countries of ESA (European Space Agency) have committed to operating the station through 2030, and Russia through at least 2028.
At the conclusion of the International Space Station program, the station will be deorbited in a controlled manner to avoid populated areas. The safe deorbit of the International Space Station is a shared responsibility of all five space agencies through partner contributions based on mass percent ownership by agency. In the future, the United States plans to transition its operations in low Earth orbit to commercially-owned and -operated platforms to ensure continued access and presence in space for research, technology development, and international collaboration.
In a years-long effort, NASA and its partners studied deorbit requirements and previously developed a preliminary strategy and action plan that evaluated the use of multiple Roscosmos Progress spacecraft to support deorbit operations. These efforts now indicate a new spacecraft solution would provide more robust capabilities for responsible deorbit. To initiate development of this new spacecraft, NASA released the request for proposal.
The USDV is focused on the final deorbit activity. It will be a new spacecraft design or modification to an existing spacecraft that must function on its first flight and have sufficient redundancy and anomaly recovery capability to continue the critical deorbit burn. As with any development effort of this size, the USDV will take years to develop, test, and certify.
For additional information about deorbit plans, visit: International Space Station Transition FAQs.
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