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									ESA UNCLASSIFIED – For Official Use




                                                               European Space Research
                                                                 and Technology Centre
                                                                            Keplerlaan 1
                                                                    2201 AZ Noordwijk
                                                                        The Netherlands
                                                                   Tel. (31) 71 5656565
                                                                   Fax (31) 71 5656040
                                                                            www.esa.int




                          Commercial
                          Sub-orbital
                         Human Flight
              Request for Information (RFI)
               on Commercial Sub-orbital
                Human Flight Platforms

Prepared by           HSF-ETS
Reference             SOF-ESA-RFI-001
Issue                 1
Revision              0
Date of Issue         29th November 2010
Status                Final
Document Type
Distribution          D/HSF, HSF-E, HSF-ET, HSF-ETS, HSF-ETA



ESA UNCLASSIFIED – For Official Use
ESA UNCLASSIFIED – For Official Use




 Title Commercial Sub-orbital Human Flight – Request for Information (RFI) on Commercial Sub-orbital Human
Flight Platforms
 Issue 1                                            Revision 0
 Author            G. Crippa (HSF-ETS) Ph. Berthe   Date 6th December 2010
(HSF-ETA)
 Approved by                                        Date
 M. Bottacini (HSF-ETS)
 M. Caporicci (HSF-ET)
 B. Gardini (HSF-E)
 S. Di Pippo (D/HSF)




 Reason for change                                  Issue          Revision                 Date




 Issue 1                                            Revision 0
 Reason for change                                  Date           Pages                    Paragraph(s)




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Table of contents:

1    Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 4
2    Scope .............................................................................................................................................. 5
3    Reference Documents ..................................................................................................................... 6
4    Definitions ...................................................................................................................................... 6
4.1 Agency ................................................................................................................................................................................ 6
4.2 Proposer ............................................................................................................................................................................. 6
4.3 Customer ............................................................................................................................................................................ 6
4.4 Payload ............................................................................................................................................................................... 6
4.5 Active Payload .................................................................................................................................................................... 7
4.6 Passive Payload .................................................................................................................................................................. 7
4.7 Flight Service Operator ...................................................................................................................................................... 7
4.8 Crew .................................................................................................................................................................................... 7
4.9 Flight Support Team .......................................................................................................................................................... 7
4.10 Integrator............................................................................................................................................................................ 7
4.11 Spaceport ............................................................................................................................................................................ 7
4.12 Flight Segment ...................................................................................................................................................................8
4.13 Ground Segment ................................................................................................................................................................8
5    Design Information......................................................................................................................... 8
5.1 Mission Profile Description ...............................................................................................................................................8
5.2 Vehicle Description ............................................................................................................................................................8
5.2.1 Physical and Mechanical Description .............................................................................................................................8
5.2.2 Electrical Interface Description ...................................................................................................................................... 9
5.2.3 Data Interface Description .............................................................................................................................................. 9
5.2.4 Environmental Description ........................................................................................................................................... 10
5.3 Safety ................................................................................................................................................................................ 10
5.4 Certification .......................................................................................................................................................................11
5.5 Ground Operations Description .......................................................................................................................................11
5.6 Ground Infrastructures available to the Customer ..........................................................................................................11
6    Requirements ................................................................................................................................12
7    Programmatics ..............................................................................................................................12
8    Cost Estimation .............................................................................................................................13
9    Company Information....................................................................................................................13
10 Deliverables ...................................................................................................................................13
10.1 Answer to RFI................................................................................................................................................................... 13
11 Logistics ........................................................................................................................................14
12 List of Acronyms ............................................................................................................................ 15
Appendix A - Submission Template ..................................................................................................................................... 16




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1            INTRODUCTION
During the last few years the interest from a number of small and large companies for
space flight has been increasing and opening up access to space also to “non-institutional”
bodies has become one major objective for them.
This attention has revealed itself in different ways, either through the use of existing
vehicles (e.g. Soyuz) and space infrastructures (i.e. ISS) for “tourist” flights, or through the
development of new spacecrafts to be managed by commercial operators, both to supply
“institutional” needs (e.g. cargo transportation to the ISS) and to create business
opportunities addressing new entities potentially interested to get involved in space
activities (e.g. space tourism, private free-flyers for technology demonstration).
In this new scenario, certain relevance is held by the sub-orbital human flights.
A sub-orbital space flight is a flight during which the vehicle reaches space (i.e. an altitude
of at least 100 km above the surface of the Earth1), but not the corresponding orbital
velocity and, therefore, its trajectory does not complete an entire orbital revolution.
During this track, the spacecraft might experience up to 4 minutes of microgravity
environment, offering scientists and researchers a further test bed for their experiments in
“zero-g” conditions.
An overview of all the existing microgravity platforms is presented in Table 1.
Commercial suborbital vehicles for human flight may represent a useful complement to the
existing systems.




1   Known as Kármán line.




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Micro-g Platform       Microgravity          Micro-g           Volume            Human                Experiment’s
                        Level [g]            Duration        Available for   Experiment’s On-         Repeatability
                                                             Experiments          board
                                                                 [m3]         Controllability
  Drop Towers            10-3 to 10-6          5 to 9 s           <1               No           Yes, on the same day
    Parabolic            10-2   to   10-3     20 to 25 s         > 10              Yes          Yes, on the same flight.
     Flights                                                                                    Flights can be performed on
                                                                                                daily basis.
    Sounding             10-4 to 10-5        5 to 13 min          <1               No           No. Years required to
     Rockets                                                                                    launch the same experiment
                                                                                                for a further run.
    Free Flyers             10-5                weeks             >1               No           No. Years required to
                                                                                                launch the same experiment
                                                                                                for a further run.
       ISS               10-2 to 10-5       weeks to years        >1               Yes          Yes, on the same flight,
                                                                                                 only if the experiment does
                                                                                                 not need refurbishment.
                                                                                                No. Years required to
                                                                                                 launch     the     same
                                                                                                 experiment for a further
                                                                                                 run.
    Sub-orbital             TBD               3 to 4 min         > 10              Yes          Yes. Flights could be
     Vehicles                                                                                   performed on weekly basis.

                          Table 1 – Major performances of microgravity platforms.

Other space research disciplines might also benefit from the availability of a human sub-
orbital platform, like the Earth Science (e.g. validation of Earth Observation instruments
during the development phase, direct sampling of the upper atmosphere) and the Space
Science and Technology (e.g. study of the near space phenomena, in-flight technology
demonstration).

2            SCOPE
This document represents a “Request for Information” (RFI) addressed to the European
entities involved in the development or commercialization of human sub-orbital vehicles. It
aims at identifying the current status of development of their vehicle and its possible use in
the frame of the space scientific programme of the ESA Human Spaceflight Directorate.


To that end it identifies the minimum set of information required by the Agency necessary
to understand the real capabilities and opportunities in this domain and to draft a plan of
implementation.


The ideas will be checked and evaluated by a team of experts nominated by the Directorate
of Human Spaceflight (D/HSF) of ESA.



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Further utilization of such vehicles as one of the potential research platforms within the
human spaceflight scientific programme of ESA might be considered2 in due time.

3             REFERENCE DOCUMENTS


#                            Ref.                    Issue /   Rev.                    Title
                                                      Date
1      http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/HSF_Rese             -       -     European User Guide to Low Gravity
       arch/SEMG2W4KXMF_0.html                                        platforms
2      http://eea.spaceflight.esa.int/                  -       -     Human Spaceflight and Exploration –
                                                                      Erasmus Experiment Archive
3      National Academy Press, 12615                  1992      -     Toward     a   Microgravity   Research
                                                                      Strategy
                                      Table 2 – List of reference documents

4             DEFINITIONS

4.1           Agency
With Agency this document is referring to the European Space Agency (ESA).

4.2           Proposer
The Proposer is the European entity (e.g. Industry) that intends to reply to this RFI with
design information and the information required by the Agency below in this document.

4.3           Customer
The Customer is the entity that intends to fly either a payload, as defined in paragraph 4.4
below, or crew, as defined in paragraph 4.8 below, or both on the sub-orbital flight.

4.4           Payload
The Payload is the experiment and/or the instrument that the Customer intends to deliver
to fly on the sub-orbital vehicle.




2   But not granted “a priori”.




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This might be operated either by the crew during the flight or automatically via a pre-
programmed scheduler.

4.5         Active Payload
Active Payload is the payload that requires connection to the on-board systems (e.g.
electric power, thermal control, telemetry).

4.6         Passive Payload
Passive Payload is the payload that does not require connection to the on-board systems.

4.7         Flight Service Operator
The Flight Service Operator is the Company that provide the sub-orbital flight service.

4.8         Crew
Crew is the group of people that will fly on the sub-orbital flight, excluding the Flight
Support Team, as defined in chapter 4.9 below.

4.9         Flight Support Team
The Flight Support Team is the group of people provided on board by the Flight Service
Operator in order to guarantee the proper performance of the flight operations during the
entire flight mission. This will include the vehicle’s pilot(s) and all the people needed to
monitor the activities in the cabin and/or to ensure safety in case of contingency.

4.10        Integrator
The Integrator is the responsible to receive the payload from the Customer and to integrate
it on the vehicle for the flight.
It will be also responsible for the de-integration of the payload from the spacecraft after
landing and the handover back to the Customer.

4.11        Spaceport
The Spaceport is the site designed to allow the take-off and the landing operations. One
single spaceport or two different infrastructures might be foreseen for the two operations
mentioned above for the same mission.




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4.12          Flight Segment
The Flight Segment is the complete flight system.
Depending on the final proposed configuration, this may includes the launcher, the
transportation airplane, and the spacecraft.

4.13          Ground Segment
The Ground Segment is the entire set of ground infrastructures needed to support the sub-
orbital flight.
This may include spaceports, integration facilities, and training centres.



5             DESIGN INFORMATION
The following major information on the proposed design solution shall be given in the
answer to this RFI.
The Proposer is free to provide any additional input it believes might be of interest for the
Agency for the consequent evaluation.

5.1           Mission Profile Description
The Proposer shall give an exhaustive description of its vehicle’s mission profile, from the
integration of the payload on board to the landing at the dedicated spaceport.
The microgravity level and the relevant duration shall be indicated for each major mission
phase identified by the Proposer.

5.2           Vehicle Description
The Proposer shall give a comprehensive description of its system elements3 designed to
complete a sub-orbital flight.
In particular it shall provide the pieces of information listed below:

5.2.1         Physical and Mechanical Description
The following physical and mechanical information of the proposed system shall be
presented4:



3   An overall description of the system and its elements for the various mission phases should be provided.




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     Overall volume available to the Customer during the flight5;
     Maximum number of crew, as defined in paragraph 4.8, for a single flight;
     Degree of freedom given to the crew during the flight6;
     Maximum mass transportable7 by a single flight;
     Mechanical interface and loads8 for the payload to be integrated on the sub-orbital
      vehicle.
The data requested above shall be provided for both the pressurized and the unpressurized
compartment9.

5.2.2 Electrical Interface Description
The following electrical interface information of the proposed system shall be provided 10:
     Maximum average power available to the Customer for a single payload;
     Peak power available to the Customer for a single payload;
     Maximum average power available to the entire batch of transported payloads;
     Peak power available to the entire batch of transported payloads;
     Voltage at the connection point;
     Total number and type of the connection points.

5.2.3 Data Interface Description
The following information on the data interface11 shall be given12:




4 In case such information would not be available at this stage of the development, the Proposer is required to specify that
in his reply to this RFI.
5 Details on the volumes available to the crew during the flight and volumes available to automatic payload not accessible

to the crew during the flight (e.g. unpressurized compartments) shall be given. If foreseen, locations available to external
sensors and/or payloads should be described.
6 E.g. can the crew move in free-flying conditions during the zero-g segment of the flight? Are they required to remain

seated during the entire flight?
7 Including both payload and crew.

8 These shall be provided for the entire mission, from take-off to landing.

9 In case the proposed system would not foresee an unpressurized compartment, the Proposer is required to indicate it in

its reply to this RFI.
10 In case such information would not be available at this stage of the development, the Proposer is required to indicate it

in its reply to this RFI.
11 In case no data interface will be provided to the Customer, the Proposer is required to indicate it in its reply to this RFI.




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      Data storage capability on non-volatile memory on-board;
      Downlink13 data rate;
      Uplink14 data rate;
      Data bus(es) characteristics;
      Audio data interface characteristics;
      Video data interface characteristics.

5.2.4 Environmental Description
The following information on the environment the payload would foresee during its entire
mission shall be given15:
      Pressure;
      Temperature;
      Humidity;
      Radiation;
      Contamination/cleanliness;
      Acoustic;
      Microgravity envelope (minimum and maximum levels).

5.3         Safety
The following information on safety shall be given16:
      Safety standards applied in the design of the flight and ground segments
      Design for minimum risk policy17;
      Failure tolerance policy;


12 In case such information would not be available at this stage of the development, the Proposer is required to specify
that in its reply to this RFI.
13 To the defined ground station.

14 From the defined ground station.

15 In case such information would not be available at this stage of the development, the Proposer is required to indicate it

in its reply to this RFI.
16 In case such information would not be available at this stage of the development, the Proposer is required to indicate it

in its reply to this RFI.
17 The control of vehicle hazards by safety factors and margins requirements (e.g. structures, flammability, EMC, etc.) is

called “Design for Minimum Risk”




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        Safety risk target for ground population
        Safety risk target for crew and flight support team
        Safety risk target for ground personnel
        Strategy implemented for crew and flight support team protection in case of
         emergency;

5.4           Certification
The Proposer shall explain which authority or organization, European, national,
international and/or from the country from which it intends to operate the vehicle is
expected to deliver the vehicle safety certification, if relevant and which certification rules
and process apply, as defined by this authority or organization.
The Proposer shall also provide information on the safety certification rules that would be
applicable for the customer payloads it would carry on board the vehicle.
The Proposer shall also provide the certification rules for customer crew.

5.5           Ground Operations Description
The Proposer shall give an exhaustive description of the ground operations defined for its
design solution for the handling, the integration, and retrieval of the payload, from the
handover of the payload from the Customer to the Integrator before the take-off, to the
return of the payload from the Integrator to the Customer after landing.

5.6           Ground Infrastructures available to the Customer
The Proposer shall give an exhaustive description of the ground infrastructure and means
it will make available to the Customer for the mission.
In particular a thorough presentation of the operating bases (take-off and landing), the
training instruments18, the ground support equipment, and the payload integration
facilities available at the operating bases shall be given19.




18   E.g. equipment, facilities, tools, courses.
19   In case such means would not be foreseen, the Proposer is required to indicate it in its reply to this RFI.




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6           REQUIREMENTS
The Proposer shall provide the set of requirements the payload shall be compliant with and
the Customer shall verify before being accepted for the flight.
In case a specific verification method is requested, this shall be clearly indicated and
described.
In particular the following set of requirements shall be addressed20:


      System Requirements
              o Physical and Mechanical Requirements
                            Geometrical envelope
                            Mechanical loads
              o Electrical and EMC Requirements
              o Data Interface Requirements
              o Environmental Requirements
                            Temperature
                            Heat rejection
                            Acoustic
                            Contamination/cleanliness
      Safety Requirements
              o Flight Safety Requirements
              o Ground Safety Requirements



7           PROGRAMMATICS
The Proposer shall provide exhaustive information on the development status and maturity
level of both the flight and the ground segments.




20 In case such set of requirements (or part of that) would not be available at this stage of the development, the Proposer
is required to indicate it in its reply to this RFI.




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8           COST ESTIMATION
In its answer to this RFI, the Proposer is requested to provide rough cost estimation for the
proposed sub-orbital flight service.
This shall take into account both the possibility of a booking of the entire spacecraft for a
complete mission bought by the Customer and the option of a partial utilization via a mass
(or volume) quota on an already reserved to another Customer (e.g. tourist mission).
This second possibility shall provide a “cost/kg” (or “cost/m3) figure.
The Proposer is also asked to provide cost figures for both active and passive payloads
transportation.
A price per crew member per flight shall be also presented.



9           COMPANY INFORMATION
The Proposer shall provide an overall description of its Company/Consortium set-up.
In particular information on the engineering background, the technical infrastructures (e.g.
facilities, equipment), and the Company’s organization chart shall be illustrated.



10          DELIVERABLES
In case of interest, the Proposer is requested to submit the following documentation:

10.1        Answer to RFI
The Answer to this RFI is constituted by a single document with the information requested
in chapters 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 above and it shall be delivered, as explained in chapter 11 below,
by




                              12:00 (CET) of February 15 2011.


The use of the “Submission Template” given in Appendix A is encouraged for the
presentation of the Answer to this RFI.



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As described above, the Agency is also interested to gain information about the available or
planned ground facilities, which will be used by each system operator. Since it is well
known that some Organizations are independently developing or planning to develop
ground facilities (commonly dubbed “spaceports”), which will be offered to one or more
vehicle developers, it is possible and welcomed that such Organizations answer the current
RFI autonomously. In this case they shall use the same format for their answer but they
shall compile only the information relevant to the ground facilities or other system
elements of their concern.



11          LOGISTICS
For questions related to this RFI, please refer to the following Point of Contact (PoC):


Philippe Berthe
ESA Directorate of Human Spaceflight
Transportation and Re-entry System Division
ESTEC – HSF-ET
Keplerlaan 1
2200AG Noordwijk, ZH
The Netherlands


Tel.: +31 71 565 5694
Fax: +31 71 565 5754
e-mail: philippe.berthe@esa.int



Submission of both the letter of interest and the final answer to this RFI shall be sent either
in “.pdf” or “.doc” format to the following address:


                                        daniela.pandolfi@esa.int




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In case of files bigger than 5 MB, the Proposer is invited to submit its documentation via a
CD-ROM addressed to the PoC given above, preceded by an information e-mail addressed
to:


                                         daniela.pandolfi@esa.int




12          LIST OF ACRONYMS
D/HSF                        Directorate of Human Spaceflight
EMC                          Electro Magnetic Compatibility
ESA                          European Space Agency
ISS                          International Space Station
PoC                          Point of Contact
RFI                          Request for Information




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                               APPENDIX A - SUBMISSION TEMPLATE
The following template should be used to provide the Answer to this RFI.

        1              Spacecraft Name                        Name of the spacecraft being proposed
        2              Mission Profile Description            Information requested in chapter 5.1.
        3              Vehicle Description
          3.1          Vehicle Overview Drawings              Drawings (with dimensions) of the external
                                                              layout
         3.2           Physical and Mechanical Description    Information requested in chapter 5.2.1, with
                                                              the relevant drawings (with dimensions)
                                                              needed for a better understanding of the
                                                              described vehicle.
         3.3           Electrical Interface Description       Information requested in chapter 5.2.2.
         3.4           Data Interface Description             Information requested in chapter 5.2.3.
         3.5           Environmental Description              Information requested in chapter 5.2.4.
        4              Safety                                 Information requested in chapter 5.3.
        5              Certification                          Information requested in chapter 5.4.
        6              Ground Operations Description          Information requested in chapter 5.5.
        7              Ground Infrastructure                  Information requested in chapter5.6.
        8              Requirements                           Requirements applicable to the payload
                                                              intended to fly on the sub-orbital vehicle
                                                              shall be described in this chapter.
         8.1           System Requirements
          8.1.1        Physical and Mechanical Requirements   Requirements on the geometrical envelope
                                                              and the mechanical loads shall be described
                                                              in this chapter.
           8.1.2       Electrical and EMC Requirements        Electrical and EMC requirements applicable
                                                              to the payload intended to fly on the sub-
                                                              orbital vehicle shall be described in this
                                                              chapter.
           8.1.3       Data Interface Requirements            Data Interface requirements applicable to
                                                              the payload intended to fly on the sub-
                                                              orbital vehicle shall be described in this
                                                              chapter.
           8.1.4       Environmental Requirements             Requirements on the temperature, the heat
                                                              rejection, the acoustics, the contamination,
                                                              and the cleanliness shall be described in this
                                                              chapter.
         8.2           Safety Requirements
          8.2.1        Flight Requirements                    Flight Safety requirements applicable to the
                                                              payload intended to fly on the sub-orbital
                                                              vehicle shall be described in this chapter.
           8.2.2       Ground Requirements                    Ground Safety requirements applicable to
                                                              the payload intended to be handled on
                                                              ground during the integration on the sub-
                                                              orbital vehicle and retrieved at the
                                                              completion of the flight shall be described in




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                                             this chapter.
        9              Programmatics         Information requested in chapter 7.
        10             Cost Estimation       Information requested in chapter 8.
        11             Company Information   Information requested in chapter 9.
        12             Proposer Details      Information of the person that submit the
                                             Final Answer to this RFI.
           12.a           Name               Name of the Point of Contact (PoC) of the
                                             Company responsible for the design and the
                                             development of the proposed sub-orbital
                                             vehicle.
           12.b           Function           Role inside of the Company of the PoC given
                                             in 12.a above.
           12.c           Company            Company responsible for the design and the
                                             development of the proposed sub-orbital
                                             vehicle.
           12.d           Address            Address of the PoC given in 12.a above.
           12.e           Telephone          Telephone number of the PoC given in 12.a
                                             above.
           12.f           Fax                Fax number of the PoC given in 12.a above.
           12.g           e-mail             e-mail address of the PoC given in 12.a
                                             above.




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