$250M for Sounding Rocket 3 Program
As NASA’s sounding rocket program site tells us:
“Sounding rockets carry scientific instruments into space along parabolic trajectories, providing nearly vertical traversals along their upleg and downleg, while appearing to “hover” near their apogee location. Whereas the overall time in space is brief (typically 5-20 minutes), for a well-placed scientific experiment launched into a geophysical phenomena of interest, the short time and low vehicle speeds are more than adequate (in some cases they are ideal) to carry out a successful scientific experiment. Furthermore, there are some important regions of space that are too low to be sampled by satellites (i.e., the lower ionosphere/ thermosphere and mesosphere below 120 km altitude) and thus sounding rockets provide the only platforms that can carry out direct in-situ measurements in these regions.”
Some agency of the USAF has issued a set of indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for $250 million, allowing multiple awards within a 7-year ordering period to cover engineering and technical services that support the Sounding Rocket Program 3. SRP3 provides launch systems and services for sub-orbital ballistic trajectories up to 5,500 km downrange. At this time $200,000 has been obligated.
The DefenseLINK announcement lists Robins AFB, which is incorrect. Robins AFB believes the contracts were issued through Kirtland AFB, NM, but Kirtland’s PA department claims no knowledge of them. For good measure, the contract numbers were crossed with different day’s announcement re: ECM systems for Pakistan. As best we can determine, winners include:
- Orbital Science Corp. Launch Systems Group of Chandler, AZ (FA8818-08-D-0036)
- Space Vector Corp. of Chatsworth, CA (FA8818-08-D-0037)
- L-3 Communications Corp., Coleman Aerospace of Orlando, FL (FA8818-08-D-0038). Has a specialty in ballistic missile target simulators [PDF], which may also use this flight profile.
- ATK Launch Systems of Brigham City, UT ((FA8818-08-D-0039)