The space agency said Saturday the request for proposals seeks dedicated support for smaller payloads under the Launch Services Program, which plans to launch 132 pounds of CubeSats with 66 pounds of cargo by mid-April of 2018.
NASA noted that it currently uses ride-share arrangements to carry small satellites and science missions to space alongside other payloads.
“This will start to open up viable commercial opportunities, ” said Mark Wiese, chief of the flight projects office of the Launch Services Program.
The agency added that the future contract or contracts will enable it to share costs with other users, including universities and organizations that seek to launch science experiments and contribute to space exploration.
“As we drive costs down, that frees up more money for science, ” Wiese said.
Responses to the RFP are due July 13.