NASA posted an RFI for Hubble Reboost on December 22, with a deadline for response of January 24, 2023. This article summarizes the RFI.
The RFI does not commit NASA to proceeding to an RFP or taking any additional actions. Note that the full RFI document is available on sam.gov.
NASA is seeking interest in demonstrating commercial capabilities to re-boost the orbit of a satellite and is considering utilizing the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) for a demonstration in the next few years. Partner(s) would be expected to participate and undertake this mission on a no-exchange-of-funds basis. Should NASA decide to pursue this demonstration, GSFC would provide technical information and technical consultation with GSFC HST experts to facilitate rendezvous, docking, and reboost. Partner(s) would be expected to provide all other resources (including the launch vehicle, spacecraft, crew if applicable to the approach, and mission operations except for HST operations during the mission) necessary to successfully perform the demonstration.
Partners must be U.S. based entities.
NASA, other federal agencies, and commercial entities have a growing number of aging on-orbit scientific satellites, and therefore an increasing need to service, re-locate, de-orbit, dispose of or otherwise manage them at the completion of their missions. With a growing commercial space industry developing and maturing space technologies and capabilities, NASA seeks to partner with commercial entities to demonstrate capabilities to operate and provide in-space services.
As an example, HST, in low earth orbit, continues to produce outstanding science since its launch in 1990. Its current altitude is approximately 540 kilometers (km). The spacecraft is predicted to reach 500 km in approximately 2025, at which point there is a risk that rendezvous would be more difficult. HST is predicted to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere in the mid 2030’s unless it is reboosted to a higher orbit before that timeframe.
Requested Response Topics
Responses should include a description of the concept of operations (technical approach(es) for conducting a demonstration, length of docked period, number of burns, and amount of boost expected), demonstrated capabilities to support the concept of operations, an assessment of the risk to HST, and the likelihood of success.
The response should contain the following information:
- The technical objectives of the envisioned demonstration.
- A description of the envisioned demonstration, including its boost capability, the current technology readiness level (TRL) of key components, and timeline for completion in 18-24 months.
- A description of the non-monetary contributions/resources expected to be needed from NASA.