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Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts D NIAC Statement of Work The statement of work for the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (Attachment A of Contract NAS5-03110, Amendment of Solicitation/Modification No. 7, issued by NASA for the Universities Space Research Association, dated July 11, 2003) is reprinted below. 1. INTRODUCTION This Statement of Work (SOW) is for a NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC). The purpose of the NIAC is to provide an independent, open forum for the external analysis and definition of space and aeronautics advanced concepts to complement the advanced concepts activities conducted within the NASA Enterprises. It shall focus on revolutionary concepts, specifically systems and architectures that can have a major impact on future missions of the NASA Enterprises. 2. BACKGROUND NASA’s overall program, as outlined in the agency’s Strategic Plan, is comprised of five Strategic Enterprises. Each enterprise covers a major area of the agency’s research and development efforts. The NASA Enterprises are: Aerospace Technology, Biological and Physical Research, Earth Science, Human Exploration and Development of Space, and Space Science (see the NASA Home Page at http://www.nasa.gov/enterprises.html for more information about each NASA Enterprise). The area of domain of the NIAC shall be limited to the National Space Policy and the NASA Strategic Plan. The NIAC shall create an additional channel for advanced concepts to respond to NASA Enterprise challenges for the 10-40 year timeframe and to augment NASA Enterprise Strategic Objectives. It shall generate ideas for how the current long-term NASA Agenda can be done better; it shall expand our vision of future possibilities. Ideally, the successful development of these advanced concepts will result in changes to NASA’s future policies and plans. The NIAC will be functionally independent of NASA, and the concepts it selects for NASA support will be the result of an external review by respected technical experts. NASA intends that the best products of the institute will be fused into NASA’s future programs, keeping in mind our budget realities. During the first century of human aerospace endeavor, cost has been our primary constraint; this constraint will remain for the foreseeable future. The intellectual challenge of how to do exciting missions much more inexpensively in the future must be engaged. 3. GOALS One goal of the NIAC shall be to sustain public interest in revolutionary concepts of alternative aerospace futures. The NIAC shall attract revolutionary ideas from a broad community to catalyze NASA’s imagination and stimulate a dynamic interchange of competing future options. As such, this NIAC shall provide a nationally prestigious and visible support to NASA in developing aerospace advanced concepts for our Nation’s future. Participation shall be limited only by the quality of proposers’ ideas. To the maximum extent possible, these ideas shall be broadcast for public scrutiny via the Internet.
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Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts A second goal is to provide a positive inspiration to the nation’s youth to study technical subjects so that they conceive their exciting role in the future and persevere in making their vision a reality. Another significant goal for the NIAC is a balanced distribution of effort and resources between NASA Enterprises, a record of 5-10% infusion of NIAC-developed advanced concepts into NASA’s long-term plans. 4. DEFINITION OF ADVANCED CONCEPTS The term “advanced concepts” has many meanings. Establishing the meaning and scope of the kind of “advanced concepts” to be solicited by the NIAC is fundamental in meeting the goals of this SOW. The following are a number of tests that the contractor shall apply to a specific concept to determine if it meets the requirements and intent of this SOW. Generally, the NIAC is seeking advanced concepts that could come into fruition in the 10-40 year timeframe. The concepts shall be revolutionary rather than evolutionary. Evolutionary means the next progressive step in development and/or a similar type of research to the research currently being conducted. Revolutionary often includes a new paradigm. It entails a leap ahead in technological advances and is generally a totally new way of doing something. The advanced concept may have been explored before, but in order for another exploration of the advanced concept to be revolutionary, it must be a new approach. This difference is illustrated in the following example: An improved rocket that would enhance human’s ability to explore space would be evolutionary. A totally different and new type of transportation into space would be revolutionary and might include a space tether, a space elevator, or a mini magnetospheric plasma propulsion system, three concepts previously studied under past NIAC funded studies. The concepts shall be consistent with the National Space Policy and the NASA Strategic Plan (see http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codez/new/policy/pddnstc8.htm and http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codez/plans.html). The concepts shall have a “new” aspect. They shall not repeat or duplicate concepts previously studied or currently being studied by NASA unless they have a new approach as stated in 4.A. above. The concepts shall involve major systems and architectures and potentially have a major impact on how future Enterprise missions are accomplished. Systems include the physical embodiment of the overall plan to accomplish a goal and/or a suite of equipment, software and operations methods capable of accomplishing an operational objective. Architectures include an overall plan to accomplish a goal and/or a suite of physical embodiments of the overall plan and their operational methods of meeting an overall mission or program objective. The concepts shall not solely be a specific advanced technology or new design approach such as a new solar cell or a new spectrometer. The concepts must be put into a mission application context. The concepts shall expand the number of approaches or choices rather than increase the depth of analysis of known concepts. An advanced concept shall include both a technical description (the physics, chemistry and technology) as well as the quantification of potential benefits. 5. DESCRIPTION OF THE NIAC The contractor shall manage the NIAC. The contractor shall be responsible for selecting the appropriate staff and the operation of the NIAC. The contractor shall establish the NIAC in a manner precluding any perceived or actual conflicts of interest pertaining to future business
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Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts proposals or to future mission participation. The credibility of the NIAC is an essential element of the proposal selection process. The NIAC shall proactively advocate and stimulate interest and participation in the generation of advanced concepts with both aerospace and non-aerospace communities. The NIAC shall be as independent from NASA as possible, guided as much as possible by external review. The NIAC shall have advanced aerospace concepts as its sole focus. It shall not perform research itself or have research facilities. Elements of the contractor not associated with the NIAC will be eligible to propose to the NIAC; however, the contractor shall be responsible for avoiding any actual or perceived conflicts of interest. The Principal Investigators (PIs) who are selected as a result of the advanced concepts solicitation will be the advanced concept study subcontractors/grantees. The contractor shall be responsible for assuring no actual or perceived conflict of interest in the performance of the external proposal review by them or by the reviewers. The NIAC shall utilize the Internet and advanced communications technology to communicate with the PIs and with the public, thus creating a “virtual institute.”* 6. NASA’S ROLE NASA personnel (including JPL personnel) will neither participate in, nor submit research proposals under, this program. However, NASA personnel will support the contractor to facilitate understanding of NASA’s mission and NASA’s current and past funded advanced concepts. Also, NASA will support the review of proposals when it is the only expert source for the advanced concept development. The actions of the NIAC are to be as independent from NASA as possible. Although NASA will not provide direct oversight of any specific NIAC activity or research subcontract/grant award, NASA must have insight into all the activities of the NIAC to fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities. NASA will assist the contractor to assure that proposals to the NIAC do not represent work previously accomplished (or rejected on a sound technical basis), that proposals are not duplicative of work currently funded elsewhere, and that the scope of the proposals are consistent with the Agency’s overall mission and Enterprise long-range strategic goals. NASA will do this by attending briefings at NASA Headquarters to be given by the contractor prior to their proposed award selections so that NASA can provide the above stated feedback to the contractor concerning these elements of the proposals. If requested by the contractor, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center will provide coordination of possible NASA systems engineering analysis of the advanced concepts studies and will also facilitate any other NASA-unique technical assistance needed by the advanced concepts studies to the extent practical and in the best interest of NASA. 7. CONTRACTOR RESPONSIBILITIES The contractor shall: Provide an additional source of technical leadership and advocacy for the analysis and definition of space and aeronautics advanced concepts. This advocacy requires an understanding of the National Space Policy, the NASA Strategic Plan and the NASA Enterprise Strategies. It also requires an understanding of aerospace technology state of the art and a general understanding of advanced aerospace concepts, to support the above directives. The NIAC shall initiate major outreach activities to stimulate and support participation by aerospace and non-aerospace communities in the definition and analysis of aeronautics and space advanced concepts. It is not necessary or required that such activities result in formulation of a written outreach plan. The primary function of the NIAC is to provide NASA with an additional source of innovative aeronautics and space advanced concepts. This shall include issuing an annual
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Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts solicitation for advanced concepts proposals, conducting an evaluation process of the proposals by an independent external review by respected technical experts, selecting the best candidate proposals based upon standards imposed by the contract, awarding, and administering subcontracts/grants to selected investigators. Note that proposals received by the NIAC from foreign entities constitute a special case. If the NIAC selects such a proposal for award consideration, it must submit the proposal to NASA for a final decision to accept, or not accept, the proposal for award. The NIAC shall also oversee the progress of the concept studies. Research Proposal Process Each year, the contractor shall solicit new proposals for funding. Solicitations shall constitute two separate groupings: Completely new concepts (Phase I Awards) and Continued funding of currently funded new concepts that show the most promise (Phase II Awards). Phase I Awards: Key components are: May be awarded as subcontracts or grants Maximum dollar amount is $75K Period of performance shall be up to 6 months. Phase I shall validate the viability of the concept and define the major feasibility issues. At the end of Phase I, these items shall be documented in a final report that shall be the basis for Phase II selection. It is estimated that about 10-15 Phase I awards will be made annually. Phase II Awards: Phase II proposals shall be solicited from Phase I investigators. Key components are: May be awarded only as subcontracts Maximum dollar amount is $500K Period of performance shall be up to 2 years. Phase II shall study the major feasibility issues associated with the concept cost, performance and development time; identify key technology issues that require more detailed study and development; and generally provide a sound basis for a NASA program manager to consider the concept for a future mission. At the end of Phase II, these items shall be documented in the final Phase II report. It is estimated that 4-6 Phase II awards will be made each year. The purpose of this phased approach is to allow a greater range of concepts to be considered initially during any solicitation cycle with a down selection for Phase II funding, based on an external review of the most promising Phase I concepts. Past successful offerors may propose again for the next solicitation but they must submit a new concept. In addition, with prior written COTR approval, the contractor may allocate additional funds to transition the most successful Phase II awards into mainstream technology or research programs. The purpose of transition is to assist the infusion of the NIAC-developed advanced concept into other mainstream NASA programs for receipt of sustained NASA funding. Post-Phase II funding will require a clear pathway for the concept to receive subsequent funding from NASA directly. The criteria for NIAC providing additional funds for this transition are as follows:
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Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts NIAC must be in receipt of the final Phase II report. The advanced concept study must continue to be relevant to NASA’s needs and in the best interest of NASA. The Phase II study must have demonstrated reasonable probability of success with future development and be of significant interest to NASA Strategic Enterprises. The kinds of advanced concepts requested in the solicitation shall be characterized in terms of the seven tests discussed in the Scope of Advanced Concepts section. The solicitation will also include a set of challenges annually developed by the contractor based upon the contractor’s analysis of input the contractor has solicited from the NASA Enterprise Associate Administrators. Although these challenges shall serve to focus the attention of the proposers, ideas outside the venues of the challenges shall also be accepted. Concept studies are to be selected for technical merit, innovation and economic benefit. NASA, including JPL, is not eligible to participate and submit research proposals, and all proposals awarded shall support United States leadership in space activities and related technology transfer. Based upon input solicited by the contractor from NASA’s Enterprises, establish a set of challenges that could potentially have a revolutionary impact on how the NASA Enterprises perform future programs. Present potential selected advanced concepts studies to the NASA Enterprise Associate Administrators and the NASA Chief Technologist to assure that the studies have not previously been accomplished (or rejected on a sound technical basis), are not duplicative of work currently funded elsewhere, and are consistent with NASA’s charter and strategy. Provide NASA with status reviews of the progress on funded investigations. Accept and organize evaluations of unsolicited proposals that may be submitted to the NIAC. Provide options for the potential fusion of NIAC-developed advanced concepts into NASA future missions. Prepare an annual report to the NASA Chief Technologist, which shall include but is not limited to, the state of the NIAC and the status of the funded investigations. Organize and lead an Annual Conference on Advanced Concepts. This would include selecting an annual theme for the conference, overseeing the conference logistics, developing the agenda and serving as conference master of ceremonies. At this meeting, current NIAC Phase II study subcontractors shall brief their research and results. Attendance at this meeting shall be open to the public. Additionally, a second annual meeting shall be held for the NIAC Phase I study subcontractors/grantees to brief their research and results. The attendance at this second annual meeting shall also be open to the public. Manage subcontractor/grantee costs consistent with established NASA financial management principles. The NIAC shall use an Internet based electronic management system for the administration of the program. * Any web development shall be in compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act: Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards, 36 CFR Section 1194.22 as follows: § 1194.22 Web-based intranet and Internet information and applications. A text equivalent for every non-text element shall be provided (e.g., via “alt,” “longdesc,” or in element content).
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Fostering Visions for the Future: A Review of the NASA Institute of Advanced Concepts Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation. Web pages shall be designed so that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup. Documents shall be organized so they are readable without requiring an associated style sheet. Redundant text links shall be provided for each active region of a server-side image map. Client-side image maps shall be provided instead of server-side image maps except where the regions cannot be defined with an available geometric shape. Row and column headers shall be identified for data tables. Markup shall be used to associate data cells and header cells for data tables that have two or more logical levels of row or column headers. Frames shall be titled with text that facilitates frame identification and navigation. Pages shall be designed to avoid causing the screen to flicker with a frequency greater than 2 Hz and lower than 55 Hz. A text-only page, with equivalent information or functionality, shall be provided to make a web site comply with the provisions of this part, when compliance cannot be accomplished in any other way. The content of the text-only page shall be updated whenever the primary page changes. When pages utilize scripting languages to display content, or to create interface elements, the information provided by the script shall be identified with functional text that can be read by assistive technology. When a web page requires that an applet, plug-in or other application be present on the client system to interpret page content, the page must provide a link to a plug-in or applet that complies with §1194.21(a) through (l). When electronic forms are designed to be completed on-line, the form shall allow people using assistive technology to access the information, field elements, and functionality required for completion and submission of the form, including all directions and cues. A method shall be provided that permits users to skip repetitive navigation links. When a timed response is required, the user shall be alerted and given sufficient time to indicate more time is required.