Eligibility and Compliance
Can a principal investigator be a non-U.S. person or have a non-U.S. partner?
CASIS can only accept proposals and award projects to U.S. persons at U.S. entities. The proposing principal investigator (PI) may have non-U.S. persons on the team as subcontractors or participants, but the PI and co-PI must be U.S. persons. The offeror has sole responsibility to ensure compliance with the U.S. export laws, and it is recommended that proposing organizations consult with an export prior to submitting a proposal.
Is SAM registration required to submit either a concept or full proposal?
Yes. For a proposal to be selected for award, offerors must be registered in Sam.gov. Registration is required in order to do business with the government.
Which SAM Codes are required to apply to this research announcement? Can I still apply if I have a UEI?
SAM.gov has stopped using the DUNS number in place of using a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). The UEI is a 12-character alphanumeric ID assigned to an entity by SAM.gov and must be reported on the offeror’s CASIS application form. The SAM.gov website provides instructions on how to view ones UEI. The DUNS Number should not be reported on the offeror’s application form. The SAM Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code is not affected by this transition to UEI. Offerors that already have a CAGE code should include it on their application form along with the UEI.
What would be the minimum employee requirements for a startup company?
There are no restrictions or requirements on the number of employees that would prevent an organization from submitting a proposal.
Can a U.S.-based medical student apply as a principal investigator and submit a proposal?
Proposing principal investigators must be U.S. persons, but CASIS does not quantify in terms of a certain education level. We do want to make sure the PI has the resources, qualifications, and experience, if selected, to execute and follow through on the proposed work. Projects selected for this NLRA should lead to commercialization or be on a pathway toward commercialization.
If a principal investigator currently has a CASIS grant, could that PI also apply to this NLRA?
It was stated that the investigations might come from either the physical or life sciences. Does this statement preclude technology investigations that use the method and perspectives of social sciences instead?
Projects are not limited to just life sciences or physical sciences. In general, experiments should validate technological advancements and rapidly advance development of products through access to low Earth orbit (LEO). We are looking for technology that can only be advanced on the ISS or in the LEO environment. Any methods or perspectives should be applied toward raising the technology readiness for in-space production. Please note that ISS crew members are available to aid in experiments and run demonstrations, but the interaction of the crew as test subjects would not be within the scope of this NLRA.
I am interested in submitting a concept summary to test a new technology on the ISS but need assistance in producing a space-worthy design. Would an Implementation Partner be able to assist?
Implementation Partners typically provide their own hardware and facilities to support investigations, and there are numerous capabilities on ISS that support technology demonstrations. If there is a facility or capability that is missing to support the proposed research, Implementation Partners can provide their expertise in helping to take commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and modify it or assist in the development of new hardware to support the investigation. A good course of action is to submit the concept summary, which is two to three pages long, and CASIS could assist in identifying Implementation Partners. It would be the offeror’s decision on which Implementation Partner they would like to work with, but we do have a portal that we can provide access to for offerors invited to submit a full proposal. Offerors can also visit the CASIS website for a list of Implementation Partners, and questions can always be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a product is already or nearly in commercial production, can it still be considered for the NLRA process?
Yes, we are interested in seeing concepts from offerors who are looking to make new strides or modifications, make their technology more efficient and effective, or to break into a new market such as the space market.
How long can the experiment test on the ISS? Would it be an up/down mission at approximately one month or could it potentially be a longer study, up to six months?
ISS experiments can range anywhere from hours to days to months to years. However, CASIS would require a strong rationale for the need for those longer-duration experiment runs. We will evaluate the proposed project to determine if we have the space available for the length of time required. Through the CASIS feasibility assessment process, we have had experiments in the past that have been on the ISS for six months or longer.
What are the specific safety requirements for experiments conducted within the ISS?
There are numerous safety requirements to operate an experiment on the ISS. Many of these were created to keep the crew and the vehicle safe from any anomalies. For example, lithium-ion batteries can be flown, but they must go through a testing program to ensure that they will be safe for use on ISS. Every project goes through an independent safety review. Implementation Partners are available to help offerors through that process and assist with any other hazardous materials that may be involved in an experiment. The CASIS Payload Operations team is always available to answer questions at email@example.com.
Will CASIS accept proposals for projects involving human biological tissue samples?
Yes, but it would depend on where the tissue samples come from and if consent has been provided. CASIS must ensure all regulatory requirements are met.
Would a working prototype be required as a proof of concept before a proposal could be submitted for the project to work on the ISS?
From an operational perspective, offerors do not necessarily need a functioning prototype until the payload development or payload integration phase, but they would want to have a working prototype that they could perform ground tests on prior to sending the experiment to the ISS. From the scientific perspective, showing preliminary results may be required when proposals go through the review process.
Would a proposed project requiring testing in space, outside the ISS, be acceptable?
Yes, that would be acceptable, and ISS facilities exist for such purposes.
With regards to commercialization, can you specify the difference between the NLRA commercialization goal and LEO commercialization goal from the ISS Program Office?
The NLRA commercial goals would be focused on improving a product, use of the ISS for the purposes of demonstration, or use of the ISS to raise the technology readiness level (TRL). If the outcome of a project is to market or produce a product or data that would then be sold and generate revenue, that would be under the LEO commercialization efforts through the ISS Program Office.
Would it be acceptable to propose to reuse our hardware that has previously been on the ISS and was funded through a NASA grant?
Yes, it would be acceptable to use hardware that was previously sent to the ISS that was funded by NASA. In the proposal, we ask that offerors document which hardware it is and who the current owner of the hardware is if it is not the offeror. If the offeror is not the owner, CASIS would need to contact the current owner to ensure the hardware is available at the time of the proposed experiment.
Can you describe the evaluation process?
CASIS has a scoring rubric and evaluation guide used by internal CASIS staff and external subject matter experts in the evaluation of proposals. Offerors have access to the scoring rubric and evaluation guide on the NLRA webpage and are encouraged to review this information before submitting a proposal to ensure all criteria are addressed.
Should we have an Implementation Partner in place at the Concept Summary phase?
CASIS encourages contact between offerors and Implementation Partners at the Step 1: Concept Summary phase in order to obtain information that may be useful for budget and schedule estimates.
Can an applicant submit more than one proposal?
Yes, but the concepts should be distinctly different from each other.
Approximately how long is the time between submitting a Step 1: Concept Summary and receiving an invitation to submit a Step 2: Full Proposal?
Depending on the volume of concept summaries submitted, the time to invitation to submit a full proposal is typically two to four weeks from the time of the offeror’s concept summary submission.
If a terrestrial Earth TRL is at 9 and if the product could be converted to a space adaptable product, what would be the minimum TRL?
The desirable TRL for flight experiments would be for the in-orbit demonstration to raise the technology readiness level from 4 or higher to 6 or higher. Please reference the scope and goals of the NLRA for more information.
Is there any special consideration for very-early-stage companies with exciting technologies that might not score high on TRL levels?
The NLRA provides guidance on TRL levels, but it is just guidance and should not prevent offerors from submitting a concept. However, in the proposal, we do want offerors to be clear on the projected TRL level at project completion and to discuss the prior work that has been done to support the technology. It is also important to include the market analysis for the technology and how it is going to benefit humanity.
What happens if I am not invited to submit Step 2?
If an offeror is not invited to submit a Step 2: Full Proposal, CASIS will provide feedback on ways their Concept Summary can be improved for resubmission to a future cycle of an NLRA.
Is there a recommended or required project start date?
Our goal is to announce awards for this NLRA in August 2023 and execute contracts in September 2023. The projected start date for awarded projects would likely be in September/October 2023.
How will intellectual property be managed for projects awarded through this NLRA?
Each awarded entity owns their intellectual property, whether the partner is NASA or any other government agency. CASIS does have a number of flow down terms and conditions, and those are always included with the Step 1 documents available for download for each NLRA.
On various supporting documents (PI, CO-PI, & Cover Page), the template requires a proposal number to be inputted in the empty cell section. There is no mention of a proposal number in the Step 2 email invitation received from the ISS National Lab. What is or where can I find the designated proposal number? Or is this a number that is assigned to our proposal upon submission?
The proposal number blank field on the cover page template is provided for offerors to use in the event they have an internal tracking number they want to assign to their proposal. It can be left blank if they have no such number for their proposal.
Will the ISS National Lab accept the NSF Biographical Template?
Offerors can use any format they choose for biographical sketches, including the NSF format.
What is the budget range for proposals?
Funding through this NLRA is allocated to support Implementation Partner mission integration and operations costs and also to cover the offeror’s internal project costs. There is no cap on the amount of funding that can be requested; however, funding is limited. The level of funding requested will be a factor in project selections, so projects with no cost or low cost will receive priority over high-cost proposals.
Is the award distribution equal between projects?
No, the award distribution is not equal between projects because different projects require different amounts of funding to accomplish project goals.
Is there any quota to award grants to small businesses?
No, there is no small business award quota.
Since this NLRA only supports Implementation Partner costs, where is funding supposed to come from for direct costs for an academic lab?
Direct costs from academic labs could come in the form of university or external funds used by the principal investigator to cover salaries and materials. Funding could come through solicitations with other governmental agencies, such as the U.S. National Science Foundation or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These examples require offeror proposals submitted to such programs to be accepted before applying to CASIS.