14 October 2020
NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has released a Community Announcement concerning its intention to solicit investigations for the Astrophysics Explorers Program.
SMD plans to solicit proposals for the Astrophysics Medium Explorers (MIDEX) Announcement of Opportunity (AO), as well as for Astrophysics Explorers Missions of Opportunity (MO) through the Third Stand Alone Missions of Opportunity Notice (SALMON-3). NASA expects to solicit MO science investigations that are defined in the SALMON-3 AO as Small Complete Mission MOs, including investigations requiring flight on the International Space Station (ISS). Partner MOs and New Missions using Existing Spacecraft MOs will not be solicited.
A draft MIDEX AO and draft SALMON-3 Program Element Appendix (PEA) are expected to be ready for release for comment in the fall of 2020 through the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES).
The currently approved Astrophysics Explorers Program planning budget is sufficient to select and execute one MIDEX mission and one or two MO missions, depending on cost. The selection process typically will have two steps.
In Step 1, it is anticipated that two or three MIDEX mission proposals and one to three MO mission proposals will be selected for nine-month concept studies. Each MIDEX concept study could be funded up to $3M in real year dollars, and each MO concept study could be funded up to $750K in real year dollars.
In Step 2, NASA will conduct a review of the concept study reports. NASA expects to select one MIDEX mission and one or two MO missions to proceed into subsequent mission phases. However, at the end of Step 1 NASA may choose to select without further competition an MO proposal that is sufficiently compelling without high technical risk for development. NASA desires to launch the MOs before December 2027 and the MIDEX mission before December 2028.
Further information will be posted on the Explorers Program Acquisition website as it becomes available. Please address questions or comments by email to the Astrophysics Explorers Program Scientist, Dr. Linda S. Sparke, at email@example.com, with subject line "Astrophysics MIDEX AO." Emails received by 15 December 2020 will be acknowledged, and responses to inquiries will be posted at the Questions and Answers (Q&A) location on the Explorers Program Acquisition website. The anonymity of persons or institutions submitting questions will be preserved.
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