The Federal Helium Program, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Amarillo Field Office, is responsible for the conservation and sale of federally-owned helium. (Bureau of Land Management)
NASA is looking for a steady source of helium for its research and development needs, according to a request for proposals released Aug. 8.
NASA uses helium as a cryogenic agent for cooling materials, for high-precision welding, lab use and as a pressurizing agent for ground and flight fluid systems.
While NASA still purchases some of its helium through the Bureau of Land Managementís Federal Helium Program, it is looking for close to 30 million cubic feet of helium for its laboratories and research centers across the country.
The Federal Helium Program winds down on Sept. 30, 2021, and as part of that wind down the price of its helium will go up 10 percent in fiscal 2015, according to NASA. The agency is calculating the rising price of helium into its budget decisions, according to the agency.
The RFP for helium is part of a multi-year contract that would run from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2019 if NASA decides to exercise its options to renew.
Helium suppliers have until Aug. 29 to respond with proposals, according to NASA.