NASA has released a draft request for proposal (RFP) seeking bids for providers of suborbital flights. The RFP, released on 26 May, will award an indefinite-quantity, indefinite-delivery contract to multiple selectees.
The payloads to be carried are unspecified beyond that they will be dedicated to, "enabling future missions and benefiting America's commercial aerospace industries".
A spokesperson at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center noted that this draft RFP is virtually identical to one issued in 2010 that provided suborbital launches to selected payloads. The awards from that RFP, totalling a half million dollars, went to Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace, both of which are slated to fly in late 2011.
Though that contract was nominally awarded for payload integration and flight, general consensus is that the awards are aimed more at supporting suborbital launch providers in their development efforts.