The NOAA Commercial Space Policy and the NESDIS Commercial Space Activities Assessment Process are two steps of NOAA’s multi-step approach to engaging the commercial sector to ensure best use of commercial sector capabilities. NOAA has developed these documents as timeless guidance to provide a foundation for a long-term endeavor. Both documents formally establish core principles that will guide NOAA’s engagement with the commercial sector. In January, NOAA released the Commercial Space Policy to establish the broad principles for the use of commercial space-based approaches to meet NOAA’s observational requirements. Now, to supplement the principles established in the policy, NESDIS has released the draft NESDIS Commercial Space Activities Assessment Process.
The NESDIS Process lays out the phases of the process that NESDIS will follow leading to any potential commercial data acquisition. First, NESDIS will release one or more Requests for Information (RFIs) to gather a sense of commercial capabilities and convey our interest in a new dataset. Based on assessment of the RFI responses, NESDIS will then release one or more Requests for Proposals (RFP) to acquire and evaluate commercial data, which will include the data specifications we require. Based on RFP responses, NOAA may purchase data from one or more vendors for analysis and evaluation through a demonstration project.
Because specifications are unique to each individual dataset, RFPs are an appropriate vehicle for sharing data specifications rather than through the policy or the process. The RFPs will focus on individual systems and allow for an in-depth, detailed description of requirements.
Following the demonstration project and the pending results, NESDIS may issue one or more RFPs to purchase on-orbit observations from commercial sources for operational use by NOAA.
These steps are formally outlined in the draft NESDIS Commercial Space Activities Assessment Process, which can be found at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NESDIS-2015-0132.
Both the NOAA Commercial Space Policy and the NESDIS Commercial Space Activities Assessment Process firmly establish the principles that will guide NOAA’s engagement with the commercial sector and the practices for how NOAA will assess, pursue, and determine the viability of using commercial data. We are actively implementing the activities identified in the two documents toward this end. In the near future, we plan to share more specific information on individual datasets and steps involved in our process. NOAA will use multiple platforms to share important information, including RFIs, RFPs, the Office of Space Commerce website, and ongoing engagement events to promote dialogue and transparency.