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Request for information (RFI) seeking ideas for future Canadian contributions to Cislunar Space Mission Exploration Initiatives

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Purpose of the RFI
  4. Understanding the Cislunar Mission
  5. Nature of RFI
  6. Response Eligibility
  7. RFI Response
  8. Treatment of Response
  9. Response Cost
  10. Submission of Responses
  11. Enquiries
  12. Acronyms

1. Introduction

Canada's Innovation and Skills Plan is focused on three priority areas to spur innovation: People, Technologies, and Companies. Working with its citizens, academic institutions and industry, the Government of Canada (GoC) will encourage innovation by studying the development potential of new, emerging, cutting-edge space exploration technologies, products and services that could provide a critical contribution to international space exploration initiatives in the lunar orbit and on the surface of the Moon (cislunar space) and eventually reaching Mars.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), on behalf of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), is soliciting information under this Request for Information (RFI) to determine whether or not there are interested and available Canadian sources capable of providing the technologies, systems or products and services required for robotics and human space exploration identified in this solicitation.

This document and the responses received are for information and planning purposes only. This RFI provides industry, academia and entrepreneurs the opportunity to submit conceptual ideas regarding potential Canadian contributions to future robotics and human space exploration initiatives in the cislunar vicinity including the Deep Space Gateway (DSG) and lunar surface exploration.

2. Background

While the International Space Station (ISS) will soon celebrate its 17th anniversary orbiting the Earth, the partners (National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), European Space Agency (ESA), Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) and CSA) are currently planning for the next steps in human space exploration and to extend human presence beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The operational concept being considered as a 'next step' will include as a minimum, a deep-space crew and cargo transportation system and a crew-capable spacecraft located on orbit in the vicinity of the moon (i.e., 'cislunar'). This spacecraft will act as a 'Gateway' for future human exploration initiatives both to/from the lunar surface and towards Mars. It may also serve as a platform for collecting resources returned from robotic sample return missions and Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) resource prospecting missions.

Although not yet officially approved as an internationally coordinated effort, steps are being taken to utilize the ISS as a platform to test the technologies necessary for long duration deep space travel and to foster commercial opportunities in LEO in preparation for government attention towards new and progressive exploration goals and objectives. The steps towards an eventual human mission to the surface of Mars will be incremental and will likely include many nations. As a partner in the ISS program, Canada is well positioned to contribute to the next steps of human space exploration in a manner that is critical, visible, affordable and beneficial to its citizens.

3. Purpose of the RFI

The purpose of this RFI is to solicit information from Canadian organizations and citizens of Canada that could help PSPC and CSA to formulate a solicitation Request for Proposal (RFP) for Concept Studies in support of Canada's future contributions and/or provision of critical services to international robotic and human exploration initiatives in cislunar space and beyond.

4. Understanding the Cislunar Mission

The vicinity of the Moon offers a true deep space environment. It would allow us to gain experience for human missions that push farther into the Solar System but with the ability to return to Earth if needed in days rather than weeks or months. An orbiting facility in this region would enable the assembly of a transport vehicle for human missions to Mars and provide access to the lunar surface for robotic and human science and exploration missions.

Human spaceflight missions in the vicinity of the Moon will span multiple phases as part of an international framework to build a flexible, reusable and sustainable infrastructure that has the potential to last multiple decades and support missions of increasing complexity. The first phase of exploration near the Moon would begin with a crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit. It would use current technologies and allow partners to gain experience with extended operations farther from Earth and serve as a gateway to deep space and the lunar surface. This DSG would have a power module, a small habitat or living quarters to extend crew time, docking capability for resupply vehicles, an airlock, an external robotic system and logistics modules to enable research. The gateway will be developed, serviced, and utilized in collaboration with commercial and international partners.

The second phase of missions will likely comprise the assembly of a deep space transport vehicle. This spacecraft would be a reusable vehicle that uses electric and chemical propulsion and would be specifically designed for crewed missions to destinations such as Mars. This transport vehicle would take crew out to their destination, return them back to the gateway, where it can be serviced and sent out again.

As leader of this initiative, NASA is looking to partners for potential contributions of spaceflight hardware and the delivery of supplemental resources. The gateway and transport could potentially support multiple missions as a hub of activity in deep space near the Moon, representing multiple countries and agencies with partners from both government and private industry. NASA and other space agencies are seeking new ideas of both a technical and programmatic nature as we develop, mature and implement this plan together.

CSA therefore intends to issue several study contracts for heritage technologies that could lead to potential contributions to the international cislunar mission architecture and infrastructure. These include robotic, relative navigation, rover, and telecommunication technologies. This RFI is intended to consider expanding the scope of strengths and capabilities that could brand Canada as a world leader in other innovative technologies, products and services suitable for robotic and human space exploration.

For more information regarding the next steps for human and robotic exploration beyond LEO, please refer to the documents referenced in Table 4-1.

4.1 Master Reference Documents

The documents identified in Table 4-1 provide additional information or guidelines that either may clarify the contents or are pertinent to the history of this document.

Table 4-1: Reference Documents
MRD No. Document Title Rev. No. Date
MRD-1. The Global Space Exploration Roadmap 2
MRD-2. NASA's Journey to Mars, Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration,  
MRD-3. NASA moving ahead with plans for cislunar human outpost, Jeff Foust,  
MRD-4. Deep Space Gateway to Open Opportunities for Distant Destinations  
MRD-5. Progress in Defining the Deep Space Gateway and Transport Plan, William H. Gerstenmaier,  
MRD-6. Global Exploration Roadmap Derived Concept for Human Exploration of the Moon, Ryan Whitley et al,  
MRD-7. Cislunar Space: The Next 30 Years, Paul D. Spudis, airspacemag.com,  

5. Nature of RFI

Canada is recognized as a global leader in the fields of space robotics, optics, satellite communications, and synthetic aperture radar. However, these are only a few of the capabilities required to enable human space exploration beyond LEO.

The CSA is therefore seeking innovative concepts for future Canadian contributions to the space exploration endeavour.

This is not a bid solicitation. This RFI will not result in the award of any contract; therefore, potential suppliers of any goods or services described in this RFI should not earmark stock or facilities, nor allocate resources, as a result of any information contained in this RFI. Nor will this RFI result in the creation of any source list; therefore, whether or not any potential supplier responds to this RFI, will not preclude that supplier from participating in any future procurement. Also, the procurement of any of the goods and services described in this RFI will not necessarily follow this RFI. This RFI is simply intended to solicit innovative ideas from industry, academia, and Canadian citizens with the possibility of becoming a significant and critical contribution to the cislunar mission.

This RFI is not a pre-selection process. There will be no short listing of firms for purposes of undertaking any future work, as a result of this RFI. Similarly, participation in this process is not a condition or prerequisite for participation in a related/resultant RFP, should one be generated.

This RFI is neither a Call for Tenders, nor a RFP, and no agreement or contract will be entered into with any contractor, based on responses to this RFI. The issuance of this RFI is not to be considered in any way as a commitment by Canada, or as authority for the respondent to undertake any work which could be charged to Canada, nor is this RFI to be considered a commitment to issue eventual RFPs, enter into a private-public partnership or award eventual contracts in relation to this project.

Canada shall not be bound by anything stated in this RFI. Canada reserves the right to change all or any parts of this RFI as deemed necessary.

5.1 Technologies and Systems of Interest

This RFI is seeking ideas for advanced and essential technologies or services that would facilitate and enable robotic and human exploration beyond LEO. The list of technology fields and operational necessities below are examples only and are not intended to constrain or limit the responses to this RFI.

  • Avionics and Communications Systems
  • Entry, Decent, and Landing Systems
  • Environmental Control & Life Support Systems
  • Ground Systems and Operations
  • Human Factors and Habitability
  • Human Health and Performance
  • In-Space Propulsion Technologies
  • Launch Systems
  • Lunar & Mars Surface Exploration Systems
  • Materials, Structures and Mechanical Systems
  • Micro & Nanotechnology
  • Modeling, Simulation, Information Technology and Processing
  • Navigation, Rendezvous, Proximity Operations and Docking Systems
  • Plant Growth/Food Production
  • Robotics and Autonomous Systems
  • Science Sensors, Systems and Instrumentation
  • Space Power and Energy Systems
  • Thermal Control & Management Systems
  • Other (Please Specify)

6. Response Eligibility

Respondents are invited to submit a reply to this RFI by completing the following embedded/linked response form. The response eligibility criteria are as follows:

6.1 Eligible Respondent

Respondents must be Canadian citizens, or representative(s) of for-profit and non-profit Canadian organizations established and operating in Canada.

6.2 Eligible Cislunar Mission Contribution Ideas

Eligible Cislunar Mission Contribution Ideas (CMCI) will include those that:

  • Are for robotic and/or human cislunar/DSG and lunar surface exploration;
  • Address a problem, concern, or issue in robotic or human space exploration;
  • Advance current technology or improve upon an existing capability;
  • Are of benefit to the citizens of Canada;
  • Are of benefit to the International Partners of the Cislunar Space Mission, or
  • Enable a future product and service business opportunity for a Canadian organization.

Concepts that are considered irrational, impractical or ignore the basic laws of physics are ineligible.

6.3 Estimated Cislunar Mission Concept Study Duration and Cost

The response to this RFI may become a subject of a follow-on concept study RFP and if so, will require contract deliverables in accordance with an associated Statement of Work (SOW). The Cislunar Mission Concept Idea being suggested must therefore be suitable for a concept study that can be completed within a few months from award and must not exceed the C$100,000 cost limit. Future concept study contract deliverables are listed in Table 6-1 .

Table 6-1: Key Contract Deliverables
CDRL No. Deliverable Due Date Version DID No.
1. Meeting Agendas Meeting – 1 week Final 0001
2. Meeting Presentations Meeting – 1 week Final 0002
3. Meeting Minutes Meeting + 1 week Final 0003
4. Monthly Progress Reports Monthly Final 0004
5. CMCS Report Draft at each milestone
End of contract – 2 weeks
Draft
Final
0005
6. Investigation Lifecycle Cost End of contract – 2 weeks Draft
Final
0006
7. Copies of presentations, publications given at workshops or conferences Workshop or conference - 1 week Draft Contractor Format

The content of the CMCS Report will require the following information as a minimum:

  • Introduction
  • Background of the proposed contribution
  • Description of the technology, product or service being evaluated
  • Technical assessment of proposed contribution to robotic or human space exploration
  • Concepts for packaging/providing the technology, product or service for space
  • Intellectual property, trade secret, confidentiality description
  • Cost and schedule analysis for development
  • Benefits to Canada (IP Spin-offs, Business case analysis)
  • Benefits to the International Partners of the Cislunar Space Mission
  • Conclusions
  • Recommendations and rationale for future investments
  • Appendices: Technical details, Business Plans, References

7. RFI Response

To facilitate the review of the responses to this RFI, respondents are asked to complete the following linked CMCI Response Form. This link will take you to a form that can be accessed and saved for your use.

8. Treatment of Response

8.1 Review of Responses

Responses will be reviewed against the following criteria:

  • 8.1.1 Represents an eligible respondent as defined in Section 6.1;
  • 8.1.2 Meets eligible criteria as defined in Section 6.2;
  • 8.1.3 Meets an eligible estimated Cislunar Mission Concept Study duration and cost constraint as defined in Section 6.3.

8.2 Review Team

A review team composed of representatives of the CSA will review the responses on behalf of the GoC. The GoC reserves the right to hire any independent consultant, or use any Government resources that it deems necessary to review any response. Not all members of the review team will necessarily review all responses.

8.3 Intellectual Property

Respondents are advised that any information submitted to the GoC in response to this RFI may be used by Canada in the development of a subsequent competitive RFP.

8.4 Review Activity

The GoC may, in its discretion, contact any respondents to follow up with additional questions or for clarification of any aspect of a response. Canada does not plan to respond to individual responses. However, Canada may invite any respondents to provide a short presentation related to their response to the CSA. Details of this presentation will be provided to those respondents selected to present their response.

8.5 Canadian Content

Respondents to this RFI must be either Canadian citizens or representatives of a Canadian organization such as a Canadian companyFootnote 1, a Canadian not-for-profit organization, a Canadian research center, a Canadian entrepreneurFootnote 1 or be affiliated with a Canadian university.

9. Response Cost

Canada will not reimburse any respondent for expenses incurred in responding to this RFI.

10. Submission of Responses

10.1 Responses

Respondents are requested to complete the CMCI Response Form and email the form to planification.exploration-exploration.planning@asc-csa.gc.ca. Should an electronic submission not be possible, a paper copy can be mailed to the address on the form.

Responses are to be submitted in one of the two Official Languages of Canada (English or French).

10.2 Closing Date

The closing date to submit a response is: .

10.3 Responsibility of Responses

Each respondent is solely responsible for ensuring its response is delivered on time to the correct email address.

10.4 Title of Response

Each respondent should entitle the email response 'Subject' as CMCI RFI Response – Reference # 9F050-170097/A.

10.5 Identification of Responses

If different than the email address used to submit the response, each respondent should ensure that its name and correct/preferred email address appear in the email response message.

11. Enquiries

Because this is not a bid solicitation, Canada will not necessarily respond to enquiries in writing or by circulating answers to all potentials suppliers. However, respondents with questions regarding this RFI may direct their enquiries to:

Caroline Niquette
Contracting Authority
Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) Acquisitions Branch, Quebec Region
Place Bonaventure
800 de la Gauchetière Street West
Suite 1100
Montreal, Quebec H5A 1L6
Telephone: 514-496-3730
Fax: 514-496-3822
E-mail: caroline.niquette@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca

12. Acronyms

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