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Vector Launch Facility RFP Hits the Street

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Unusual Request Calls for Design-Build-Finance Provider

Nearly eight months after setting its land lease with Pima County, Vector Launch Inc. (aka Vector Space Systems) has issued the RFP for construction of its launch vehicle and satellite manufacturing facility on 15 acres in the county’s Aerospace Research Campus.

One major – but highly unusual – component of the request stipulates the company wants a firm to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the facility under a lease agreement between Vector and the builder for 25 years. At the end of the lease, ownership would transfer to Pima County.

Functional Needs

Vector is requesting overall floor space of at least 66KSF in a building intended to serve as production facility and headquarters for company leadership and engineering staff.

The manufacturing component will consist of two cells in the first phase. To minimize potential disruptions and take advantage of redundant efficiencies, Vector uses what it calls “Autonomous Production Modules, each of which being capable of manufacturing and delivering the complete and final product to the end user,” according to the RFP.

APMs are modular in design and operational requirements and components can be reallocated or temporarily moved to support launch or test activities in the short term as needed.

The smallest configuration, or “Minimum Viable Production Unit”, for each self-sustaining APM consists of 20KSF of manufacturing floor space and 8KSF of administrative and warehouse space. Two MVPUs are mandated in the request. There also will be a small floor space for the satellite manufacturing operation.

Vector’s rockets are approximately 40 feet tall, but the request specifies the ceiling height need only be 30-40 feet, since the rockets will be manufactured horizontally.

Office space requirements call for 12 executive spaces (100-400SF), 16 administrative offices (150-350SF) and 30 manufacturing/engineering personnel spaces (80-100SF), as well as conference rooms and storage and operations areas.

Under terms of the land lease, the facility must use the LEED Silver standard as a design guideline, but Vector won’t be required to earn LEED certification.

Aesthetic Appeal

The Vector facility’s primary points of visual appeal will be the entry and atrium, which the company wants to showcase, “the high tech and futuristic nature of the enterprise itself.” The request calls for a design that highlights or softens the space’s verticality, “by delineating horizontal banks (such as at floor or ceiling levels) with windows, lighting, wall coverings, and signage.”

The atrium should also be able to be used as an informal meeting and collaboration space, according to Vector.

External Requirements

The building entry approach should have spaces for “flagpole farms” and an area or areas to erect large scale rocket displays, in keeping with the space-based nature of the company’s work.

While Vector is seeking a space that will show off its futuristic nature, the exterior space design has to remain flexible enough to allow for future expansion as the need arises. Areas adjacent to the finished structure also have to be able to accommodate up to 10 shipping containers for storage of finished product.

The Financial Component

As noted above, the RFP is unusual in that it wants the winning design-build firm to also finance the project and serve as Vector’s landlord under a 25-year lease, after which the building ownership will transfer to Pima County, with which Vector is engaged in a land lease for the site.

The “Builder Financing” portion of the requests reads as follows:

This RFP is for a turnkey approach to include financing, design, construction operation and maintenance of the structure. Proposers must present a complete proposal to finance, design, and construct the Project under a lease from Vector. The terms of the lease are up to the proposer but the financial proposal must be consistent with the existing land lease between Pima County and Vector and its specific terms and conditions. The lease will be for 25 years with ownership transferring to Pima County at the end of the lease. There are no restrictions in the RFP or in the draft lease (included in the RFP) on the proposer’s ability to propose alternatives, additional fee structures, or any other alternatives to this arrangement.

Submitters’ financial proposals must include details for the structure and terms of the lease, any conditions Pima County would have to meet, and objections/recommended changes to the Pima County/Vector lease (if any).

The financial proposal will make up 20 percent of the overall submittals’ total scores.

AZBEX reached out to Vector and to select development/construction firms for additional comment and clarification on the request, but no messages were returned by press time.

Responses will be accepted until 5p.m. August 31. The selected bidder will have one year to complete all work on from the date the authority to proceed is issued.

NOTE: Paid subscribers receive additional project details in our twice-weekly PDF publication, including project stakeholder information and valuable project bidding leads. Find out more about AZBEX subscriptions or contact Rebekah Morris at or (480) 709-4190

2 Comments on Vector Launch Facility RFP Hits the Street

  1. Do you have a link to the actual RFP?

    • Annalise Lullo // August 1, 2017 at 3:28 pm // Reply

      Hello Evan,

      We do not have the link to the actual RFP, to gain access to this you would need to go through Vector directly. There is a public notice available where you can find this information. Hope this helps. Have a great day!

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