Responses Due By

2021-09-23 23:59:59 US/Eastern Time

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Work With Us - Commercial Companies - Submit Solution

Advanced Nuclear Propulsion and Power

Project Description

Problem Statement

The Department of Defense (DoD) is seeking commercial solutions for lightweight, portable, and long-duration power sources that can support propulsion and on-station power for sensing and communication on small- and medium-sized spacecraft. Current electric and solar-based propulsion systems are neither suitable for future mission sets that will extend beyond Earth orbit, nor are they compatible with the volume constraints imposed by the shrinking size of next generation spacecraft. Advanced propulsion technology that enables high delta-V and electrical power to payloads, while maintaining fuel efficiency, is required to enable new DoD mission sets in space. 

Future missions will demand more electrical power to expand the capabilities of spacecraft--allowing for orbital changes, methods to control or facilitate de-orbit or transfer of materials between orbits, etc. While the U.S. government is supporting the development of fission-based propulsion and power (e.g. nuclear thermal propulsion technology and compact fission reactors), DIU’s DoD partners are interested in adopting mature commercial technologies that can provide power and propulsion in the near term. Other Transaction (OT) awards resulting from this solicitation will support laboratory-based prototype testing of nuclear power and propulsion systems. 

Desired Product Capabilities

Competitive proposals will address as many of the following capabilities as possible and must show credible manufacturing, regulatory, and licensing paths toward prototype development within three to five years and a follow-on path to flight based testing. DIU will consider solutions that cover a subset or the entirety of the below specifications. 

  • Propulsion:
    • high specific impulse (>2,000 sec)
    • high delta-V capability (>10km/s)
  • Power:
    • high specific energy and specific power 
    • laboratory demonstration of scalability to >kWe 
    • system lifetime above minimum power threshold > 3 years
  • Scalability:
    • systems can be scaled down in size to < 2,000kg propulsion and power system dry mass
  • Additional capabilities and qualities of interest:
    • provide heat to spacecraft systems in shadowed environments (in space)
    • minimize radiation exposure to ground personnel during spacecraft integration
    • minimize ionizing radiation exposure to and impact on surrounding electronic components, integrated circuits, avionics, etc. 
    • include feasible manufacturing of radioactive material fuel elements and safety characteristics (e.g. encapsulation, thermal stability)

Additional Instructions

Companies may submit multiple proposals in response to this solicitation. The Government may facilitate teaming arrangements among companies proposing complementary solutions to address the full scope of desired capabilities. Companies are also welcome to present their own teaming arrangements in their proposals.  

Proposal Guidance

  • Show how your technology or dataset specifically addresses the solicitation; generic descriptions of technology platforms are unnecessary and highly discouraged.
  • Include your systems engineering approach and any assumptions related to determining spacecraft and subsystem performance metrics for your proposed solution. 
  • Proposals must include:
    • a list of key leadership and technical personnel from company


  • Companies selected at phase zero will be invited to deliver a technical pitch (virtually via telecon) within two to three weeks of the closing of this posting. The pitch will allow the evaluation team to assess the current feasibility and maturity of the proposed solution.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Companies without a CAGE code will be required to register in SAM ( if selected. The Government recommends that prospective companies begin this process as early as possible.

Awarding Process


Before You Submit

Companies are advised that any Prototype Other Transaction (OT) agreement awarded in response to this solicitation may result in the direct award of a follow-on production contract or agreement without the use of further competitive procedures. Follow-on production activities will result from successful prototype completion.

The follow-on production contract or agreement will be available for use by one or more organizations within the Department of Defense. As a result, the magnitude of the follow-on production contract or agreement could be significantly larger than that of the Prototype OT agreement. All Prototype OT agreements will include the following statement relative to the potential for follow-on production: “In accordance with §10 U.S.C. 2371b(f), and upon a determination that the prototype project for this transaction has successfully been completed, this competitively awarded Prototype OT agreement may result in the award of a follow-on production contract or transaction without the use of competitive procedures.”

2018 Other Transaction Guide

Submission Form
Please fill out the following form in its entirety.

Company Information
Company Contact Information

Submitter Information

Is your company headquarters address different from your company address?

Please tell us your company headquarters address
Is your company a partially or wholly owned subsidiary of another company?

Please tell us about your parent company
Is your company currently operating in stealth mode?

Is this your company’s first submission to a Defense Innovation Unit solicitation?
This applies to solution briefs submitted in response to project-specific solicitations.

Is your company registered in Systems Award Management ( and assigned a current Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) code?

Please enter your CAGE code

Solution Brief

Solution briefs must be saved as a PDF that is 10MB or smaller. Papers should be approximately 5 or fewer pages and slide decks should be approximately 15 or fewer slides.

Upload (1) One Solution Brief Document
I certify that this submission contains no data designated higher than "Controlled Unclassified Information" (CUI). Submissions with CUI and "FOUO" material may be accepted.

Any agreement awarded off of this solicitation will include language requiring your company to confirm compliance with Section 889 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (Pub. L. 115-232). If you are not able to comply with the law, the Government may not be able to award the agreement.

We Work With You

If we think there’s a good match between your solution and our DoD partners, we’ll invite you to provide us with a full proposal — this is the beginning of negotiating all the terms and conditions of a proposed prototype contract.

After a successful prototype, the relationship can continue and even grow, as your company and any interested DoD entity can easily enter into follow-on contracts.

Our Process

  1. We solicit commercial solutions that address current needs of our DoD partners.

  2. You send us a short brief about your solution.

  3. We’ll get back to you within 30 days if we’re interested in learning more through a pitch. If we're not interested, we'll strive to let you know ASAP.