Psyche AO Proposal Selection Process

The AO Proposal Selection Process is meant to promote the most effective and efficient proposal guide to ensure complete understanding and development.

NASA establishes criteria for each NASA-sponsored payload. Four risk classification levels (A thru D) are defined in the NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR). For example:

An Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for Principal Investigator (PI)-led missions is a call for proposals that is typically released on a 2-5 year cycle depending on the program and availability of funding.

Proposed mission concepts are expected to describe the duration of each and all phases
(Phase A-F). These may have constraints based on the AO requirements of a given PI-led program.
The AO proposal requirements can test the limits of some organizations’ capabilities. The necessary
information demands a significant amount of research, consultation, and negotiation.

Required Proposal Elements

Technical Planning

AOs ask for a large amount of organization, scientific,
and technical detail within a strict page limit (typically
40 pages for the main body of the proposals). The
following list briefly outlines the required information.

Instrument, spacecraft, and subsystem descriptions
must be sufficiently comprehensive to allow in-depth
technical review by a panel of experts to assess
whether the concept can be developed at the
proposed cost and on the proposed schedule.


Depending on the AO requirements and maximum allowed
cost cap, the proposals must also provide the following
cost information or inclusions. (These estimates must
be sufficiently accurate such that they will not increase by
more than 20% of the proposed cost by the end of a Phase
A study, while still within the maximum cost cap.)

The requirements for these elements are generally given
in the AOs, and they require formal approval from all of
the participating institutions, which demands intensive
interaction at administration levels of these institutions.

Risk Management

Risk management and mitigation strategies
should incorporate a credible “descope” plan if one
is possible.

Agreements & Approval

Before submission, the full proposal package (including
subcontractor and teaming agreements, domestic and
international) must be approved by the PI’s institution.

Interested in learning more about NASA’s Psyche Mission?

The NASA Psyche Mission Innovation Toolkit includes a series of free online courses based on the real-world challenges and skills associated with the Psyche mission’s science, engineering, technology, and teamwork. Click below to learn more:

NASA Psyche Mission Innovation Toolkit