Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Complex $300K Canadian Space Agency RFP Which Allowed Only Two Weeks for Response Has Been Extended

          By Chuck Black

An unusual request for proposal (RFP), issued on February 3rd, 2014 by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for a complex joint study in conjunction with the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) focused around the "innovation and commercial potential" of a variety of satellite technologies, was initially to remain open for only two weeks before "up to two proposals" would have been awarded contracts worth up to $300,000 CDN, to further study the problem.

The Israeli Shavit 2 rocket launching the Ofek-7 satellite into orbit on  June 11th, 2007. Initially used in 1988 to carry the first Ofek satellite, the Shavit has a demonstrated ability to launch upwards of 300kgs into low Earth orbit. Ofek Earth imaging satellites and the Shavit rockets are both operated by the Israeli Ministry of Defence. Israel is considered the smallest county to possess an indigenous launch capability. Photo c/o Times of Israel.

But after a series of inquiries from the Commercial Space blog, the period for response to the RFP has been extended out for another two weeks, until March 2nd, 2015.

The RFP is currently available for viewing on the Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) website under the title of "Concept Study for a Canada-Israel Space Mission (CISM) (9F064-20140724)."

As outlined in the RFP, the CSA, working in conjunction with the ISA, will select up to two proposals to begin work in early March for a period of five months. The contracted work will focus on the innovation and commercialization potential of novel techniques for maritime object localization and broadband telecommunications payloads with advanced on-board processing capabilities.

All of which sounds kinda complex, given that there was initially only two weeks to assess, define and then reply to the RFP. With this new deadline, four weeks in total will be allowed to respond to the RFP.

An initial list of technologies has also been identified as being of interest under the program. These include long-wave infrared cameras, digital communications, satellite formation flying technologies, software defined radio (SDR) capabilities and on-board propulsion systems.

Argo J-5 rovers manufactured by Ontario Drive & Gear (ODG) being demonstrated at the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies MarsDome facility on February 20th, 2014. A single $600,000 CDN contract for the ExCore small planetary rover platform (9F052-140062/A), was published on July 30th, 2014 and closed off on September 22nd, A second, $300,000 contract for a lunar polar rover night survival strategy (LPRNSS) concept study (9F052-140125/A) was published on August 15th, 2014 and closed off on October 2nd. A third, $3.25Mln CDN contract for a lunar rover drive-train prototype (LRPDP) platform (9F052-140053/A) was published on July 11th, 2014 and remained open until September 12th. As outlined in the December 1st, 2014 post, "New CSA Rover Contracts Worth Over $3.28Mln CDN Uncovered," the final contracts were eventually awarded to ODG and MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA). Photo c/o author.

Of course, the typical RFP process is geared to allow a longer response time in order to insure appropriate publicity and the full participation of a wide range of potential respondents. For example, unlike the current RFP, and as outlined in the August 18, 2014 post, "Canadian Space Agency Gears up to Fund More Rovers," three other recent CSA RFP's were each open for approximately six weeks before bidding closed off.

As outlined on the Government of Canada webpage on Canada-Israeli relations, Canada and Israel have "strong, multidimensional bilateral relations, marked by close political, economic, social and cultural ties." This relationship is also supported through various bilateral agreements including the March 2005 Canadian Space Agency - Israeli Space Agency MOU for Space Cooperation agreement, which was updated in September 2014 and served as the basis for the current RFP.

Why was this specific RFP initially allowing only two weeks for interested parties to craft a response?

When CSA representative Julie Anselmo finally connected with the Commercial Space blog over the phone on Friday, February 6th, 2015, she indicated only that the original closing date for the RFP was "an error" which would be corrected formally early the following week.

Editors Note: This article was originally published on February 4th, 2015 and updated on February 6th, 2015 after a short conversation between editor/ writer Chuck Black and Anselmo. It was further updated when the formal closing date of the RFP was changed on February 9th. 

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