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Science Office for Mission Assessments: Explorer (EX) Acquisition: Q&A

 

Explorer (EX): Questions and Answers

SCIENCE MISSION DIRECTORATE (SMD) ACQUISITION COMMUNICATION POLICY:
Proposers are advised that only the Announcement of Opportunity, these Q&A, and any formal communications documented by the Explorer Program Acquisition Scientist are maintained and considered as binding during the Evaluation, Categorization and Selection processes applicable to this Announcement. Verbal, or other, unofficial communications with NASA, or other, personnel are non-binding and should not be considered as advice, guidelines, requirements, commitments or agreements for the purposes of this AO. By far, one of the most important SMD activities is the solicitation and selection of research investigations for NASA funding. Proposers and proposing colleagues should ensure that critical decisions are not based on erroneous, pre-selection hearsay information by asking for clarification through these Q&A and requesting that the Program Scientist document any proposal-specific communications with NASA officials.
 
Below are the answers to questions received to date. Similar questions may have been combined and answered as one question. If you have additional questions or feel your question was not answered, please submit an additional question.
 
For Explorer missions of opportunity, which will be solicited through the SALMON AO, the FAQs posted at http://salmon.larc.nasa.gov/SALMONQAs.html remain current and applicable.
 
Questions may be submitted until 5:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on February 2, 2011, 14 days before the proposal due date.

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Question153 :   The ROSES USPI solicitation states that the "planning date for start of investigation" is 9 months after 16 Feb 2011, i.e., 16 Nov 2011. My question concerns how hard this date should be taken, given the "planning" modifier. Would a proposal submission be jeopardized if a start date of 1 July 2011 was indicated in the proposal (i.e., for a foreign mission already launched and in operation) or if a start date of 1 Jan 2013 was indicated in the proposal (i.e., for a foreign mission to be launched in 2012)?
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Question152 :   What is an appropriate numbering scheme for Explorer mission of opportunity proposals? The SALMON AO and PEA H7 don’t specifically state what this should be. Is it stated anywhere? If not, would including the cover, proposal summary, fact sheet, table of contents and then start the header numbering with section 1 for the Scientific/Technical Investigation be appropriate? Many other proposals in the past seem to start with section 3 etc. or section C etc. and this has contributed to our confusion on this issue.
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Question151 :   On page 19 of the SALMON it says "Although the cost of the SC must be included within the PI Mission Cost cap, the cost of the SC must be identified separately from the proposed investigation." If the cost of the SC is to be included in the PI-managed Mission Cost, then why is it shown below the "PI managed cost" line in Table B-5 in the PEA (page H7-25) along with contributions?
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Question150 :   Our science team members would like to be listed as project scientists or something similar; however, there is not a option in NSPIRES to do this. We are currently listing them as Co-Is. Are there other options in NSPIRES for science team member classifications other than the options listed?
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Question149 :   The B-3 table in the AO require "totals" by phases. Requirement B-49 requires the total by phases to be in Real Year dollars. Recent mission AO's have had the requirement of RY and FY totals by phase on the B-3. Is it acceptable to include Real year and FY 11 totals by Phases on the B-3 table?
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Question148 :   The SALMON AO section 4.6.7 indicates that no institutional letters of commitment are required for the Phase 1 proposal from organizations that are contributing Co-I services only, be they U.S. or non-U.S. organizations. This seems to contradict 4.8.3, insofar as non-U.S. organizations are concerned. Please clarify.
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Question147 :   For the Orbital Debris requirement in the AO (Req. 29 and B-63), and as per NPR 8715.6, NASA Procedural Requirements for Limiting Orbital Debris, does "debris" also include any stages of the launch vehicle? In particular, if it does include an analysis of, say, the upper stage of the launch vehicle, what parameters should be used for area and mass and materials, etc as inputs to the debris analysis when the LV options encompass a range of LV specifications?
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Question146 :   With regards to the above SALMON AO paragraphs (4.6.2 and 7.4.3), if proposing a partner mission of opportunity there appears to be some ambiguity of what is the limiting factor for the 25% costs cap prior to confirmation. Do we include the costs in Phases E and F in the basis for computing the 25% limit or not?
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Question145 :   The following statements are contained in the SALMON AO. Can you clarify if this refers to phasing as proposed for NASA funding or the host mission phasing? That is, in 4.6.2, does "prior to the initiation of the mission's detailed design (Phase C)" refer to our phase C or Phase C of the host mission?
 
4.6.2 Single Principal Investigator
(4th Paragraph)
For Partner Missions of Opportunity, it is important for proposers to this AO to understand that the PI assumes all risk for any delays in the implementation of the parent mission and shall, therefore, propose appropriate reserves for such schedule contingencies. Following the completion of any Concept Study, but prior to final selection by the parent mission's sponsoring organization, NASA funding for additional work will be limited to $100K/year (in real year dollars). In any case, NASA funding for all studies prior to the initiation of the missionšs detailed design (Phase C) will be limited to 25 percent of the total NASA commitment for the proposed investigation.
 
7.4.3 Confirmation of Investigations
At the end of Phase B, NASA will conduct an independent review of the investigation's readiness to proceed before being authorized to spend more than 25 percent of the total NASA commitment for Phases A/B/C/D. Results of this Confirmation Review is a decision to proceed or not. This decision will be based upon review of all aspects of the Phase B results, and evidence of satisfactory technical, cost, and schedule performance including demonstration of the required minimum unencumbered cost reserve. In addition, for any PMO, a commitment from the organization sponsoring the full mission to enter into an appropriate agreement with NASA is required by Confirmation Review. Failure to provide such an agreement may lead to a decision by NASA to terminate additional funding beyond Phase B. Once a mission is confirmed, no rephasing of Phase E costs to Phase C/D will be permitted.
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Question144 :   On p. 23 of the Explorer AO, there is a reference to FAR 52.219-9 and a ceiling of $500,000. The information I received from our procurement office is that the ceiling has been moved from $550,000 (currently in FAR 52.219-9) to $650,000 (FAR 19.702). What number should be used in proposals submitted in response to this AO?
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Question143 :   The answer to question #45 is confusing. When I go to NM 7120-81 and click on the "access it here" link it points me to 7120.5D. They seem to be the same document. Have things have changed since July?
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Question142 :   Please clarify what is needed to satisfy SALMON AO Section XII, Appendix 6 "Draft Outline of Assignment of Technical Responsibilities between U.S. and International Partners"? It is not clear what is needed.
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Question141 :   Since Phase A is capped at $1M (RY) for an Explorer mission, it seems there is no reason to carry any reserve on Phase A since this reserve will be pulled out of the $1M (RY) already assigned. Is this a reasonable approach? Otherwise, we would need to pull out $250K (25%) from Phase A to hold in cost reserve and this would put further restrictions on an already highly restricted Phase A budget.
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Question140 :   In the ELV Launch Services Program Information Summary it appears that the costs of the isolation system (1) can be included in an cost-to-complete row (as with ASRG-related costs for the Discovery solicitation) and (2) those costs can be regarded as unencumbered cost reserve dollars, thus reducing our baseline costs and increasing the reported percentage of our Phases A-D reserves. Is this correct or is there another interpretation?
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Question139 :   Do I understand correctly from Section 4.6.9 of the SALMON AO that a letter of commitment from the foreign entity which has agreed to host our instrument on their spacecraft is not required with our proposal submission on 16 February, 2011, but that it would be needed only if the proposal is accepted to go to Step 2? Meanwhile, I assume that any foreign Co-I's involved would sign in via NSPIRES in the same way as a US team member does. Is this correct?
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Question138 :   Is the duration of Phase A to run from Phase A selection to downselect -- a period from Sept 2011 to Feb 2013?
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Question137 :   Is a test flight required prior to a Long Duration Balloon (LDB) flight?
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Question136 :   Are high telemetry data rates from Antarctica still available for Balloon missions?
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Question135 :   Concerning ultra-long duration super-pressure balloons, can we propose a standard balloon flight and then discuss the benefits of the increased return for ULD super-pressure balloon? Are there mid-latitude long duration possibilities for a zero pressure balloon (e.g. South America to Australia)?
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Question134 :   In reference to Section 4.7.1 of the SALMON AO on Full Cost Accounting, there may be an omission in the PEA, in that the full mission AO requests that CM&O be included, and the SALMON requests that it NOT be included. The two should probably be the same?
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Question133 :   The Explorer MO PEA only allows $250K for Phase A, where the Full Mission Explorer AO allows for $1M. This seems to place the MO’s at a disadvantage for downselection. We would like to request that the same cap be applied to both types of proposals.
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Question132 :   How does the Technical, Management, and Cost reviewers evaluate the Class C nature of the full Explorer missions?
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Question131:   If there are several TMC cost evaluators, how does NASA ensure consistency across all proposals?
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Question130 :   How will hardware component risk that is being methodically reduced as part of phase A be reviewed?
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Question129 :   At time the proposal is submitted, what is the extent of international documentation required?
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Question128 :   As a follow-up to question #12 on EVM use by universities proposing to this Explorer AO; if the option of seeking a waiver is proposed, will that choice be judged as a risk? Will it prejudice in any way against selection of those proposing their intention to pursue the EVM waiver for their universityšs cost management?
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Question127 :   This question refers to the SALMON Appendix B page requirements. The rules for how pages are counted have changed from the previous SMEX solicitation. How can we ensure enough schedule detail for a mission of opportunity since there smaller page limits as compared to the Explorer full mission AO, but similar requirements and they are evaluated by same the TMC panel?
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Question126 :   Requirement B-6 in the Explorer 2011 AO states: "A CD-ROM containing up to three searchable PDF files of the proposal, limited to the main proposal, all tables, and all applicable appendices (see Section J of this appendix), as well as EXCEL files of the tables (see Requirement B-50 [cost] and B-67 [MEL]), shall be attached to the original and to each copy." In the first sentence, what is meant by "all tables"? Does this mean all tables in the proposal, or just the two tables referred to in Requirement B-50 (cost table B3), and Requirement B-67 (the MEL)?
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Question125 :   In the recent Amendment 8 release for the Stand Alone Mission of Opportunity Notice NNH080ZDA009O for Explorer 2011 Missions of Opportunity, the following is included for E/PO Plans: The quality of an optional core E/PO plan is not a consideration in the selection of Step 1 proposals for Phase A concept studies. Therefore, E/PO plans are not needed at this time. Proposals shall not designate an E/PO lead and proposals shall not include a plan for an E/PO program. However, on the second page of the amendment in Table B.1 Restrictions and Guidance on Page Count, it states that there are 2 pages allotted to an optional E/PO acknowledgment and SC with a reference to Appendix B(XI) of the SALMON. This is the same appendix that was referred to when we were writing the plan for the E/PO and SC activities. So, what are we supposed to write in these two pages? What does ‘E/PO Acknowledgement and SC’ mean? We are confused at these seemingly contradictory statements and were wondering if you could provide some additional guidance.
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Question124 :   In the recent Amendment 8 release for the Stand Alone Mission of Opportunity Notice NNH080ZDA009O for Explorer 2011 Missions of Opportunity, the new Table B.1 replaces ‘Cover Page and Proposal Summary’ (which is an electronic submission) has now been replaced with four items. The second is ‘Proposal Summary Information’ which I am tempted to interpret as the electronic cover page. However, the third and fourth items are the ‘Export controlled material statement’ and the ‘Optional Restriction on Use statement’. Question 20 in SECTION IX – Program Specific Data of the electronic cover page already provides an ‘Export controlled material statement’. I am not sure what you have in mind for the ‘Optional Restriction on Use statement’ but SECTION VIII - Other Project Information of the electronic cover page already allows us to indicate that proprietary/privileged information included in our proposal. Does the absence of “Electronic Submission” in the ‘Page Limits’ column of the new Table B.1 mean that we are not to submit an electronic cover page? If not, why are we offered one page to supply information that is already supplied in the electronic cover page?
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Question123 :   Is it correct to conclude that in the Technical, Management, and Cost (TMC) review an appropriate risk classification for a SALMON small complete mission to be accommodated on the ISS is Class D with selective upgrades required for man-rating and ISS (as determined through the interface meetings with the Explorer ISS POC)? NPR8705.4 is somewhat confusing since the SMEX and UNEX - which are the most comparable missions are both listed as Class D and attached ISS attached payloads are listed as Class B. A Class B Quality Assurrance program does not seem reasonable for an Explorer mission of opportunity that has a cost cap of <$60M. It would be appreciated if you can provide further guidance.
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Question122 :   In the Explorer 2011 AO, Section 4.1.2, NASA Program Management, paragraph 3 refers to "institutions that have NASA-Approved safety and mission assurance (S&MA) programs". (a) How does an institution get approved, other than meeting the requirements of a Mission Assurance Plan (MAP)? (b) Will the selection negotiation include the establishment of an agreed-to S&MA plan between NASA and the project? (c) Is there a NASA approval process in addition to this?
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Question121 :   Section 5.2 of the SALMON PEA H7 says Partner MOs may be proposed for participation in a PI-led NASA mission from a program other than Explorer and must satisfy the following requirements: (i) The PI of the host mission provides a Letter of Commitment endorsing the partnership and (ii) the feasibility assessment of the host mission, i.e., the TMC evaluation in Step 1 and Step 2, includes the accommodations for the partner MO instrument. If a description of the partner MO instrument was not included in the Step 1 proposal of the host mission, can a description of the feasibility of the accommodation be included in the Explorer MO proposal so that it can be evaluated by the TMC in Step 1 and Step 2 of the Explorer MO?
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Question120 :   After reading the second paragraph of Section 4.1.2 of the Explorer AO, I am confused about the management structure that it suggests and request clarification, specifically regarding the chain of fiscal responsibility. A NASA Center will have the project management responsibility in our proposal. However, the PI will be at an university. For such a management structure, would funds go from the Explorer project office to the NASA Center from which all components of the program funds will be disbursed? Or would funds (except that which would go to the NASA Center) go to the PI's institution? Please explain.
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Question119 :   In the Investigation Implementation, Management and Schedule section of Table B.1 in SALMON Amendment 8 it says that "foldouts do not count against the page limit". The SALMON AO itself says "Fold out pages are permitted; each 'n-page' foldout counts as 'n' pages." So is there now no limit on the number of foldouts that we can have?
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Question118 :   Section 4.5.1 of the Explorer 2011 AO states, "Selected investigations will have to spend project funds only to provide required data and information to the IV&V facility". Do you have a recommendation for how much this might be? IV&V can focus narrowly on one part of a mission, or they can take a much broader view requiring significantly more support. Given the uncertainty of IV&V, how would you like us to account for this?
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Question117 :   In Appendix B of the Salmon AO, Section VII. F: Science/Technology Implementation: Instrumentation, there are the (indented) requirements:
  1. Mission Concept
  2. Data Analysis and Archiving
  3. Science Technology Team
To me, it makes no sense that Mission Concept would be a sub-section of Instrumentation. It would make much more sense if this were under section VIII. It is also not obvious that Data Analysis and archiving should be a sub-section of Instrumentation, nor is it obvious that team would go here. Is it possible that this indented section of text with the three requirements was placed here by mistake? Can you verify that this is correct as is, and that they must be subsections of Instrumentation?
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Question116 :   How do proposers determine cost information for Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility (CSBF) services?
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Question115 :   The proposal AO calls for information (and page counts) on a per instrument basis. Can you provide guidance on what defines an “instrument?” What is the difference between a single instrument with multiple channels and multiple instruments?
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Question114 :   Is NASA working under full cost accounting or Unified Labor Accounting (ULA)?
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Question113 :   The SALMON AO specifies that proposers must refer to RSDO catalog 2 for small reusable systems, but that catalog has been superseded by RSDO catalog 3. Which is the correct reference?
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Question112 :   The AO states that in order to limit orbital debris, Earth-orbiting spacecraft must be de-orbited within 25 years of end-of-mission (or 30 years after launch). What are the requirements for drag analysis? Is it sufficient to use the average atmospheric density (including solar cycle variation)?
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Question111 :   The following items appear to have been replaced in the FINAL Explorer 2011 AO but it’s not clear how the content changed:
Appendix B, page B-21, Requirement B-59, Exploded Diagram;
Appendix B, page B-26 and B-27, Table B1 and B2, Example Science Traceability Matrix and Example Mission Traceability Matrix;
Appendix B, page B-28, Table B3; and
Appendix B, page B-30; Table B5, MEL.
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Question110 :   At the Explorer Program Workshop & Potential Bidders Conference July 13, 2010, it was stated that if a Mission of Opportunity (MO) proposal includes E/PO, the requirements are the same as for full missions (i.e., a PI statement of commitment & budget only, with no evaluation until the Concept Study). In the new evaluation criteria provided in the PEA H7 (Section 7.2) E/PO evaluation is not mentioned; however, the SALMON AO does still require a 2-page E/PO write-up, and the final PEA does not remove that requirement and make the E/PO requirements similar to those for full missions. Is that your intent? Will such E/PO plans be evaluated?
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Question109 :   May a SALMON Partner Mission of Opportunity propose an instrument for a non-NASA balloon flight?
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Question108 :   The Launch Services Documents released at the time of the Draft AO stated that different launch ranges would have differences in price and that the use of a larger fairing would carrying an additional cost. The Launch Services Document released at the time of the final AO does not provide cost guidance on these items. Can we assume there is no additional cost to use alternate launch sites and/or larger payload fairings? If there are in fact additional costs that fall under the PI-managed costs, please provide cost guidance for these items.
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Question107 :   We have received a performance quote from NASA Launch Services Program for a particular orbit insertion requirement. The quote appears to be based on a launch vehicle that has lower performance than other launch vehicles that should be available given published capabilities elsewhere (e.g., in Users Guides). Under what circumstances is an alternative launch vehicle allowed and would it require special launch service costs be carried in the PI-Managed Mission Cost?
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Question106 :   Which launch vehicles are encompassed within Launch Service Class Option A and Option B?
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Question105 :   For non-standard supplemental propulsion, is the proposer allowed to acquire a solid rocket motor (SRM) directly through ATK, or are they required to acquire it through NLS?
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Question104 :   We request clarification of the intent of the note at the bottom of page B-2 of the Explorer 2011 AO referencing page limits that states, “the extra pages may be distributed between Sections D-G as desired.” For example, because 2 extra pages are allowed for each instrument, may a proposer use one extra page for each instrument and use the remaining page, in whatever way as may be deemed advantageous?
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Question103 :   I am interested in submitting an Explorer 2011 USPI proposal for a contribution to a mission that spans instrument development through launch and the prime science phase. The mission design includes a cruise phase between launch and the start of the prime science phase. The total length of such an investigation will exceed the 5-year limit specified in Section 2.2.3 of the Explorer2011 USPI PE. Is such an investigation appropriate for the Explorer USPI?
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Question102 :   How much time is required for the ISS Payload Office to evaluate the feasibility of an ISS concept and generate the Letter of Feasibility? Is there a specific format or specific set of information needed to serve this evaluation? Do you envision an iterative process where the feasibility evaluation evolves with successive input of information?
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Question101 :   Please confirm that new Requirement B11A can be satisfied by including names of individuals who participated in a substantial way in the development of the investigation concept or the proposal itself in the Non-Team Member section of NSPIRES.
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Question100 :   I have been unable to find NPD 2820.1 "NASA Software Policy" on NODIS as directed on the EX Program Library page. Where can I find that document?
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Question99 :   For those proposals with an alternate Program Manager (PM), will the Technical, Management, and Cost (TMC) evaluation panel have any choice but to base their risk assessments on the weaker of the two PM candidates? If this is the case, why ask proposers for a PM and an alternate PM?
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Question98 :   For the Explorer 2011 AO, Appendix B, Section I.1, Small Business Subcontracting Plan. Does Requirement B-52 apply if the expected Phase A contract is less than $500K (also ref. AO Sec 5.5.1)?
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Question97 :   Reference Table B-3 in the Explorer 2011 AO. By definition, the Total Mission Cost includes the Student Collaboration Incentive (Section 4.3.2). Therefore, Student Collaboration costs must be included on the first line under contributions. Hence, it should not be "blacked out". Also, Phase F is missing from Table B-3.
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Question96 :   Appendix A, Sec VI of the Explorer 2011 AO requires the submission of "cost or pricing" data if the expected value of the combined Phase A plus Bridge Phase costs exceed $650K. Does this means a detailed budget for Phase A and Bridge (rather than two numbers in Table B-3) is required for Step 1 Explorer 2011 proposals? If so where would this budget information be placed in the Step 1 proposal?
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Question95 :   In Section 5.5.1 the sentence beginning with “If offerers…”. This seems an oddly worded sentence to me. I think it says that you need to submit a subcontracting plan if you anticipate subcontracts in Phase A, and that you don’t if you are not subcontracting work in Phase A? As to the sentence itself, I’m not sure I know how to reasonably demonstrate that there are not subcontracting opportunities.
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Question94 :   Do the SALMON AO and Explorer 2011 Science Missions of Opportunity PEA allow a proposal for a small complete mission that includes the launch vehicle or other access to space?
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Question93 :   Is there a specific funding amount for Category III proposals?
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Question92 :   Do balloon payloads require the same TRL levels as space missions?
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Question91 :   The 15 evaluation factors in Section 7.2 of the Explorer 2011 AO are unequally spread over the three evaluation criteria? Does this imply any weighting?
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Question90 :   The draft AO mentioned a charge for use of minor radiological calibration sources. The final AO has no mention of any charges. Is this the intent?
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Question89 :   During the evaluation process, major weaknesses concerning the mission implementation are sent to proposers for clarification. Will major weaknesses concerning science merit and science implementation merit be sent as well?
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Question88 :   If a mission is selected for Category III technology development, can the mission then be directly promoted for implementation once the technology development is completed?
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Question87 :   As the 2010 Astrophysics Decadal survey is not part of the selection criteria, will the proposal be penalized for any discussion of how a proposed mission aligns with the survey in the proposal?
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Question86 :   Science Enhancement Options (SEO) are optional. Is there any benefit to proposing a SEO? Since it is not a benefit for selection, can it be only a detriment?
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Question85 :   Can we see previous successful proposals to see what format and approaches work well?
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Question84 :   The published launch services information summary document does not contain any limitations or requirements on payload axial center of mass location. Is this requirement being treated in a similar manner as other launch environments (such as Acoustics, Vibration etc. . .) where they are not specified? If these requirements are not being specified in the document, is it up to each Explorer team to make an independent assessment of what the requirements may be based on research into various launch vehicle user guides? Or, should the Explorer teams ignore requirements that are not specified in the launch services information summary document, and not be penalized by TMC reviewers for not addressing these requirements?
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Question83 :   I can find nowhere in the SALMON or the PEA where it says to whom the various required letters of commitment must be addressed. Is it correct to assume that they should all be addressed to the PI?
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Question82:   I am very concerned that the wording of the Explorer AO seems to imply that any mission of opportunity must compete with a second full Explorer mission. This appears to me to be a very large hurdle placed before proposers of MOOs. Is there a funding value for a MOO below which it would not be competing with the second Explorer mission?
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Question81:   I am participating in an ESA Cosmic Vision (CV) proposal. Do I need to submit an Explorer MO or USPI proposal to NASA for support of the US collaborators during the ESA study phase, assuming that ESA selects the proposal that I am participating in for study?
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Question80 :   SALMON AO states that 55 paper copies plus signed original and CDROMs are required. Which is it -- 55 or 65 paper copies?
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Question79 :   What cost information / data types are most useful for TMC reviewers for evaluation purposes? Please provide a comprehensive list of the types desired, in addition to the MEL (e.g., current best estimates (CBEs), Price-H, grass roots, etc).
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Question78 :   In SALMON section 4.3, it states "Proposals shall include a commitment by the PI and the proposing institution for the cost, schedule, and scientific performance of the investigation." Also in section 4.6.8 it states "Letters of commitment are also required from all major or critical participants in the proposal...". Do you expect us to attach to our proposal a letter from the PI and his institution committing to these points? I would have thought that the proposal cover page would suffice to show the commitment of the PI and his institution.
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Question77 :   For Co-Is who offer to contribute their participation in the proposed mission, there are several places in the SALMON AO where letters of commitment for contributions are discussed. In each place contributions of co-investigator services are excluded. Aren't letters from Co-I's institutions and / or sponsoring organizations committing to pay for the Co-I's participation required?
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Question76 :   The SALMON AO is very clear in requiring definition of the "Baseline Investigation", but it does not request definition of a "Minimum Investigation" as did the prior Explorer MO in 2008. It does, however have the following wording under the PI responsibilities section (4.6.2): "The PI is accountable to NASA for the scientific/technical success of the investigation and must be prepared to recommend termination of the investigation when, in his or her judgment, the successful achievement of established minimum science/technical objectives, as defined in the proposal as the Minimum Investigation, is not likely to be achievable within the committed cost and schedule." The reference here to "Minimum Investigation" seems to be an editing error, since there is no other reference to Minimum Investigation in the SALMON document. Are we correct to assume that you only want us to define the Baseline Mission and descopes to that? Or do you also want definition of a Minimum or Threshold mission? The recent "standard AO" for the Discovery Program requests definition of a Threshold Mission.
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Question75 :   Section 1.5.4 of "NASA's Mission Operations and Communications Services", October 2010, has a requirement for CCSDS File Delivery Protocol (CFDP). The section heading "1.5.4 CCSDS File Delivery Protocol (DSN, NEN, SN) "leads the reader to believe that CFDP is required for any service using DSN, NEN, or SN. However, in the requirements paragraph that follows the heading, it appears that CFDP is only required for DSN links/services; NEN and SN and not mentioned Please clarify if CFDP is a requirement just for DSN links, or does it apply to all Explorer RF communications links?
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Question74 :   This question is about foreign contributions to proposals responding to the upcoming (and future) Explorer AO. It is commonly assumed for a foreign participation that includes the delivery of mission essential hardware, that the equivalent cost of such a contribution needs to be carried in the budget as a cost to NASA so as to cover the risk of the foreign partner not delivering that item. However, other programs that include international partnerships do not include the cost of the foreign participation in their baseline mission budgets (e.g., IXO, MMS, JWST, ...). In those cases there are MOUs that spell out the obligations of the partners. This is so even with the knowledge that NASA does not make treaty obligations on behalf of the US and these MOUs have little standing as far as actually obligating things. In the case of Explorers, can a similar process to be used instead of the requirements in the AO? This would allow Universities to build international partnerships in the same way that NASA does for these other programs. Any risks associated with foreign contributions would be assumed to be covered by the 30% contingency required. Is this possible for the Explorer Program?
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Question73 :   We note that one of the mission categories solicited by the H7 PEA draft is Small Complete Missions (SCM). We read the SCM language as allowing purchase of a small launch vehicle or a ride on a commercial launch to any relevant orbit for the small mission, provided that the launch services are included within the cost cap of the program. Is this correct?
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Question72 :   Page 3 of the 2010 Draft Explorer states: "The goal of NASAšs Explorer Program is to provide frequent flight opportunities for high quality, high value, focused heliophysics and astrophysics science investigations that can be accomplished under a not-to-exceed cost cap and that can be developed relatively quickly, generally in 36 months or less, and executed on-orbit in less than 3 years." To what degree (if any) is meeting a 36 month schedule (from the start of Phase B to Launch) considered in the down selection of Explorer candidates? Since the NLT December 31, 2018 (stated on page 5 of the Draft AO) appears to be the driving requirement in the AO, it appears that any mission would be able to propose a launch date prior to December 31, 2018 and propose a schedule duration that is commensurate with the mission's complexity. If a proposing team's schedule is able to meet the NLT December 31, 2018 launch date, would a proposed development period (from the start of Phase B to Launch) longer than 36 months be penalized?
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Question71 :   The draft Explorer Mission of Opportunity PEA says, "Proposal content must conform to the guidelines set forth in Section 6.2 and Appendix B of this SALMON AO". Is a draft of this appendix available?
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Question70 :   Is an Orbital Debris assessment required for Partner Missions of Opportunity? If so, is the analysis for just the NASA supplied instrument? How can NASA require foreign space agencies to follow NASA guidelines for orbital debris?
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Question69 :   The draft AO refers to use of Ka-band, is Ku-band on TDRS available too?
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Question68 :   We are proposing a mission in which there will need to be communication with a few satellites. We are wondering if we could utilize mission funds to build new remote communication terminals that could be linked in with existing ground operations centers. If this is not possible, is it possible to upgrade NASA ground-based communication facilities utilizing mission funds?
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Question67 :   For non-deep-space mission orbits, are other frequencies than Ka-band allowed for data downlink?
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Question66 :   Ground Systems: There is a listed restriction on pg 22 of the Exploreršs Draft AO that states, "NASA funds may not be used for the construction of new facilities for non-NASA communication services". Please confirm that it is acceptable to use NASA funds to UPGRADE an existing non-NASA facility that currently supports NASA low inclination orbit missions where no NASA ground systems exist. Could an UPGRADE include a new antenna at an existing NASA-utilized, non-NASA ground station? Or would it be limited to upgrading components only such as electronics boxes, etc.? Could a possible upgrade also include expanding to a new frequency and? Please clarify on where the line is between a new facility and an upgraded facility.
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Question65 :   Regarding Explorer Missions of Opportunity to the International Space Station, should proposers be negotiating with NASA SOMD now for accommodations and access to space? How will the cost of launch be handled?
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Question64 :   The draft AO states that reserves are to be a minimum of 25% for Phases A-D. For a small complete mission of opportunity, is it necessary to carry reserves on the hosted rides? Or can the launch services be excluded from the reserve calculation or calculated at a lower percentage?
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Question63 :   Has the "Step-One Proposal Evaluation Plan" been developed and approved yet?
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Question62 :   Will the final Explorer AO provide guidance on which science objectives of the Heliophysics and Astrophysics Divisions might have higher priority for this next Explorer and SALMON opportunity?
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Question61:   My organization intends to submit a proposal in response to the Explorer AO with me as the PI. My organization has a fully compliant EVM system to report status to NASA. We intend to procure an instrument valued in excess of $50M from a subcontractor that does not have a formally validated EVM system.
(a) In reference to draft AO paragraph 4.5.2, does the phrase “---the contractor EVM system—“ refer to the organization submitting the proposal or to the instrument subcontractor or both?
(b) If it also refers to the instrument subcontractor, by what date must their EVM system be formally validated by the cognizant Federal management agency or
(c) Can the instrument subcontractor instead report their EVM data to the PI organization in a compatible format to be folded into a single top level, validated EVM report to NASA?"
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Question60 (WQ):   Is a mission of opportunity Balloon mission required to be a “class C” mission?
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Question59 (WQ):   For a mission of opportunity, can more than one balloon flight, e.g., several balloon flights, make up the baseline science mission?
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Question58 (WQ):   How will the cost evaluation be performed for a mission of opportunity balloon mission?
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Question57 (WQ):   What can be done with a balloon payload after the end of the mission? What happens to the recovered hardware? Can it be re-used to prepare a future ROSES proposal?
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Question56 (WQ):   Are mid-latitude long duration balloon flights allowed, and if so, what type and size of LDBs are allowed for mid-latitude launches?
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Question55 (WQ):   How much funding will NASA provide for mission of opportunity Phase A Concept Studies?
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Question54 (WQ):   Please clarify the Participating Investigator type of Mission of Opportunity. I’m confused about applying to ROSES rather than applying to SALMON. I’m also confused about timing, since the ROSES submission does not appear to match the proposed submission dates of this draft.
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Question53 (WQ):   Does NASA really need 65 paper copies and CD-ROMS? This seems to run counter to the government’s stated intent of paperwork reduction and is a burden on many proposers.
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Question52 (WQ):   Regarding the set aside for Category III Technology Development, which criteria in 7.2 will apply to evaluation of technology development? Are there any estimates of resources ($) that may be available? Will the E/PO requirement be levied against technology development?
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Question51 (WQ):   In Section 4.2.1 there is a discussion about contracted evaluation services, which will be obtained through the EASSS contract. When will the fully limited company or companies be listed?
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Question50 (WQ):   Regarding NASA’s role in the hosted payload program on commercial satellites, it would benefit NASA and the science community, if NASA would arrange hosted payload slots on commercial satellites and solicit instruments for these slots under an appropriate solicitation, such as SALMON. This would provide scientists and NASA with high-resource, reliable, long-duration platforms and facilitate the utilization of commercial satellites for science. It would also insure that the commercial host has returning science customers. What are the discussions (if any) within NASA regarding this? What are the challenges/issues?
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Question49 (WQ):   For Explorer Missions of Opportunity, will it be possible to propose to add a stand-alone instrument for astrophysics or heliophysics to a spacecraft being prepared by another of the SMD science divisions?
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Question48 (WQ):   Does NASA require foreign Co-Is employed at a U.S. university to be funded by foreign entities?
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Question47 (WQ):   Are there requirements regarding previous experience of the Principal Investigator (with balloons, rockets, previous Explorers, etc.) as was the case previously?
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Question46 (WQ):   Is there any preference or any penalty associated with the speed at which data are placed in public archives?
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Question45 (WQ):   The current PEA draft refers to the SALMON AO, which requires NPR 7120.5D. However, the NPR 7120.5D download page at the NODIS library (http://nodis3.gsfc.nasa.gov/displayDir.cfm?Internal_ID=N_PR_7120_005D_) insists that NM 7120-81 should be used instead. Which set of procedures is the correct one to use?
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Question44 (WQ):   Regarding the Science Merit Evaluation Criteria, what is an example of “ancillary benefits to the US science program” (maybe for previous efforts)?
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Question43 (WQ):   In preparing an Explorer mission proposal, we have a bid for a piece of hardware that is substantially lower than what NASA cost models may predict it should be. We are concerned that this lower cost number will be perceived as a source of risk for our proposal when in fact the numbers come from actual costs incurred by the vendor for a current effort. What additional steps can be taken to mitigate any perceived risks associated with our cost estimates?
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Question42 (WQ):   What is the cost for the non-standard option of a larger, 92” fairing for the Class A launch vehicle?
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Question41 (WQ):   Is the Falcon-9 definitely NOT considered an Explorer option?
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Question40 (WQ):   Should the proposers consider the Falcon 1e as a viable LV for this AO?
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Question39 (WQ):   Do the Launch Vehicle performance envelopes support high-energy, TLI missions (C3 = ~ -2.0 to -0.5)?
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Question38 (WQ):   Would a Taurus 3113 (adds a Star 37) be considered a “standard” option? If not, what is the cost?
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Question37 (WQ):   Understand that cost cap does not include launch cost. If mission can be launched as a secondary, payload at reduced cost to NASA will the PIs cost cap be raised?
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Question36 (WQ):   How do proposers obtain a letter of commitment, as required by the Draft Announcement of Opportunity, for launch of their experiments to the ISS?
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Question35 (WQ):   Can we propose to fly ISS experiments that are externally mounted, i.e., on the Japanese or US pallets?
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Question34 (WQ):   Concerning the Draft Explorer 2010 Science Missions of Opportunity (NNH10ZDA009J), opportunities "on long duration balloons (LDBs)" are mentioned explicitly. Does this mean that opportunities on super pressure balloons and ultra-long duration balloon flights are excluded from this AO?
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Question33 (WQ):   Will Mission of Opportunity proposals be electronically submitted, as they were for the recent SALMON PEA for ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter instruments?
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Question32 (WQ):   Small complete missions must figure out find/provide their own launch vehicle. For this MO can the launch vehicle for the full Explorer AO be used (or can we propose the use) as the launch vehicle for one of these small complete missions? In other words: Can we propose to be a “payload” on the full Explorer Mission?
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Question31 (WQ):   Is it your intent to let the Final SALMON AO and PEA simultaneously? In the case of conflict between the SALMON AO and the Explorer PEA, which takes precedence?
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Question30 (WQ):   When will the SALMON AO be updated?
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Question29 (WQ):   Many of the submitted elements for the Explorer proposals are required to be Excel files. Are all versions of Excel acceptable to the government or is a particular version required?
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Question28 (WQ):   Is there a definition of a “flight element”? Is a telescope a flight element? Is it an instrument?
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Question27 (WQ):   Since they will be reviewed by the same set of panels, why do the page limits for the Explorer and the Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity differ significantly for the two most critical sections (i.e., the Science/Technical Investigation [25+ versus 20] and the Mission Implementation/Management/Cost Estimating [33+ versus 20])?
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Question26 (WQ):   The Foreword states that NASA intends EX investigations be implemented as Category 3 missions with Class C payloads. However, Section 4.1.4 states that the missions have been determined to be Category 2 with Class C payloads. So are these Explorer missions considered Class 3 or Class 2?
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Question25 (WQ):   What is the earliest launch date?
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Question24 (WQ):   Will the Explorer Workshop attendees list be published? Will the comments received be posted as well?
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Question23 (WQ):   Are previous successful proposals available in the public domain and if so, where?
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Question22 (WQ):   If proposed projects costs are low relative to the $200M cap, would the agency consider selecting two Explorer full missions AND a low-cost Mission of Opportunity?
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Question21 (WQ):   Will very low-cost (~$5M) Missions of Opportunity be considered?
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Question20 (WQ):   How many proposals does NASA expect to select to proceed into Phase A Concept Studies for both the mission and the MO selections?
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Question19 (WQ):   Based on the wording in the AO and the discussion at the Explorer Workshop, it appears NASA will not decide how many full flight missions will be awarded (one, two, or zero) until after the evaluation of the Phase A studies. Is that a correct observation or does NASA expect to make an announcement pertaining to the number of missions to be selected prior to that?
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Question18 (WQ):   The opening Notice to the draft AO says that the AO will be released “no later than late summer or early fall”. The schedule shown on page 5 says “Fall 2010”. Which is correct?
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Question17:   For an Explorer concept that requires ground-based telescope follow-up observations of science targets in order to complete the mission's science goals, would the team be given priority for a significant allocation of observing time on the Keck telescope? Would the team be expected to pay for use of Keck from their Phase E budget? If so, at what rate?
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Question16:   How does the PI-cost commitment in the Phase A Concept Study Report related to the 70% confidence cost commitment that NASA makes at Confirmation (KDP-C)?
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Question15:   What will be the available fairing sizes for the Taurus LV for the 2010 Explorer AO? Is there an additional charge to the PI for either of the Taurus fairings? If so how much is the additional charge? The launch site for the Falcon 1e is Kwajalein. Is there any additional cost to the PI for Falcon 1e launch operations from Kwajalein? If so how much? What will be the additional charge to the PI for Taurus launches from Kwajalein? Will the Falcon 1e be a certified LV available for the 2010 Explorer AO? Which launch vehicles for the 2010 Explorer AO will provide orbital inclinations of less than or equal to 9 degrees?
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Question14:   What are the qualifications required for PI?
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Question13:   What is the "launch by" date for Partner Missions of Opportunity?
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Question12:   Not many universities have a government validated EVM system. If a university-led mission team includes a subcontractor with a validated EVM system, can the university use that system to report cost and schedule metrics for the entire project?
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Question11:   Has it been decided if this round of Explorer will be a Class C or Class D mission?
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Question10:   Why have the Explorer Missions of Opportunity (MO) been put into SALMON instead of keeping them in the Explorer AO as has been done in the past? Is there some meaning to this change?
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Question9:  Please clarify the status of the Explorer EX AO given the release of the President's 2011 budget request. Have NASA's plans changed regarding the intention of releasing the AO?
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Question8:   Will the minimum PI space flight experience standards be implemented for the 2010 EX AO as they were for the 2007 Small Explorer AO?
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Question7:   Will there be a Student Collaboration element in the 2010 EX AO and if so, are there any planned changes in the guidelines for that option?
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Question6:   Are there any updates, particularly in cost cap or draft AO schedule from the community announcement issued recently?
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Question5:   The launch vehicle is not explicitly stated, but it appears that something with characteristics similar to the Taurus 3110 is potentially available. Taurus also offers a Taurus 3113, which includes a fourth stage kick motor, as a 'non-standard service'. The Explorer pre-AO states that NASA anticipates being able to cover supplemental costs for 'non-standard services'. Would this include something akin to the Taurus 3113 launch option, or would the additional cost of a fourth stage kick motor come out of the PI budget?
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Question4:   In previous opportunities, I have seen examples where a spacecraft platform was offered, or perhaps was simply available due to previous use/design. The specifications of such a platform or platforms would be very helpful in thinking about how to approach future explorer AOs. How can I find information about available spacecraft platforms?
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Question3:   Will the Explorer AO also include suborbital (particularly balloon) missions within its purview?
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Question2:   Will NASA consider prospective missions that require two launches to be responsive to this Opportunity? If so, does the PI cost cap change?
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Question1:   I have in mind proposing an MO for US participation in an international mission. This MO was proposed previously and selected for a Phase A study and was deemed by the NASA review process as being ready proceed to Phase B. Since we have already done a Phase A, would it be possible to proceed directly to Phase B in the summer of 2011 provided our new MO proposal is selected? The international mission is almost ready to start Phase B now. If we can only start Phase B late in 2012 it may be too late to participate.
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