SSC releases National Security Space Launch Phase 3 draft RFP #2

On July 14, Space Systems Command (SSC) released a second round of National Security Space Launch Phase 3 draft Requests for Proposals that incorporate industry comments from the first draft RFPs and an updated dual-lane acquisition approach. SSC is seeking additional industry feedback prior to releasing the final RFPs later this year.

More than 20 companies attended an Industry Day held this past February and SSC received more than 1,900 comments to the first draft Request for Proposals released on 16 February 2023. The most substantive change since the U.S. Space Force released the first draft Request for Proposals is that the U.S. Space Force will add a third provider to the Lane 2 construct.

“We must continue to outpace our adversaries and maintain the technological advantage we get as a nation by making our space architecture more resilient so it can be counted on during times of crisis and conflict,” stated the Honorable Frank Calvelli, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration. “This is the essence behind the NSSL Phase 3 acquisition strategy.”

“Our dual-lane approach to utilize diverse commercially available launch systems sparked great interest from many providers, including those just entering the market and growing their launch capability to meet NSSL needs,” said Col. Douglas Pentecost, Deputy Program Executive Officer, Assured Access to Space. “Based on industry feedback and the need to increase resiliency in the face of the pacing challenge from countries like China, we refined our strategy to fortify assured access to space by ensuring that the Government has three launch providers capable of meeting all NSSL requirements by the end of Phase 3. We are confident that this approach will secure launch capacity, enable supply chain stability, increase our resiliency through alternate launch sites and streamlined integration timelines, and enhance affordability for the most stressing National Security Space missions.”

Lane 1 is a multiple Firm Fixed Price Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract open to all qualified bidders. Lane 1 includes the opportunity for annual on-ramping for emerging providers and launch systems as they become available. Lane 1 covers procurements with a five-year base ordering period from FY25 to FY29 plus a five-year option. Lane 1 is tailored for more risk-tolerant space vehicles launching to commercially addressable orbits. Task orders for launch services will be competed on an annual basis among all IDIQ awardees, with missions ordered either individually or in blocks. Lane 1 providers must propose fully burdened launch service prices, including all applicable launch service support. Lane 1 also incorporates tiered mission assurance as required by each mission’s risk tolerance.

The government will select three awardees for Lane 2. The competitively awarded FFP Indefinite Delivery Requirements contracts will be awarded to the best value, next best value, and third best value launch service providers who meet all NSSL orbits and unique mission capabilities. The contracts will have a five-year ordering period from FY25 to FY29. Lane 2 will include missions that require full mission assurance with SSC-certified launch vehicles. Lane 2 payloads require launches to more stressing orbits, necessitating higher performance launch systems, and complex security and integration requirements. Lane 2 also includes annual Launch Service Support to cover NSS-unique costs. “While Lane 1 allows launch providers to support a subset of NSSL requirements and provides resiliency through diversity of launch providers and launch sites, Lane 2 ensures the Government has three launch providers capable of meeting all NSSL requirements by the end of Phase 3,” stated Col. Chad Melone, Chief Launch Procurement and Integration Division.

“This approach fortifies the Nation’s assured access to space in the face of the pacing challenge and a growing and innovative commercial launch market, while incentivizing competition for our most demanding National Security Space systems,” he added.

Release of the Final RFPs is expected in 4QFY23 with award for the Lane 1 base IDIQ planned for 3QFY24 and Lane 2 IDR contracts targeted for 4QFY24.

Source: SSC

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