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March 7, 1997

Steve Nesbitt
Johnson Space Center
(281) 483-5111

Release: J97-5

NASA Seeks Private Industry Bids on Space Operations

NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) Tuesday will issue a call for proposals from private industry to begin consolidating the agency’s human and robotic space operations capabilities.

"It’s a big, new job for JSC, and is critical to the future of the agency," said John O’Neill, director of the Space Operations Management Office (SOMO). "Our approach will revolutionize the way NASA does operations. Saving money in routine operations will enable NASA to apply more of its resources to research and, ultimately, exploration."

An initial contract is to be awarded in May to develop an "Integrated Operations Architecture," a preliminary step leading to award in 1998 of a single contract known as CSOC, the Consolidated Space Operations Contract. That contract is expected to be a multi-year agreement for sustaining engineering, operations and maintenance of networks, control center facilities, and other critical systems.

In some cases, the contractor will provide control and monitoring of spacecraft and related functions. The CSOC contract to be awarded later is estimated at $500-$600 million a year for 10 years.

"The contractor under CSOC will have more end-to-end responsibility for service products, and will work to our requirements," O’Neill said.

SOMO was created after an agencywide review under O’Neill’s direction, looking for efficiencies in similar operations around NASA. The review identified common activities at a number of centers, indicating potential cost savings through consolidation.

The study was a response to NASA’s Zero-Base Review that recommended the agency focus its civil service resources on science, research and development, and move end-to-end operations service responsibility and accountability to industry.

SOMO’s function will be much like that of a private sector operations organization, working toward providing high quality operations at a reduced cost, moving civil service resources out of operations and into research and development, and commercializing whenever possible. Also, as new programs are designed across the agency, SOMO will act as a consultant to advise on the most efficient and cost-effective methods of operation, O’Neill said.

"We’re not part of an enterprise or traditional agency process," he said. "We’re a service management organization, the first of its kind in the agency."

The new JSC office will coordinate operations services include tracking, telemetry, control, data handling, flight operations support and communications. It will provide the environment and services required by the flight program, whether human-piloted or not. Work that is more standardized will be included in the CSOC, while core competency work will stay with the centers.

The initial contractor phase will have private industry examining operations and finalizing a catalog of all services to be included. A first draft of the mission services catalog can be found at the SOMO website at:

Additional information about SOMO and CSOC, and a procurement schedule is available at:


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