AirLaunch LLC Wins Falcon Phase 2B Contract
On Sept 8, 2005, DID noted that AirLaunch LLC would soon be negotiating with DARPA to begin negotiations for a development contract under the FALCON/Common Aero Vehicles program, which aims to launch small satellite payloads and possibly even hypersonic aircraft into space for less than $5 million, and on only 24 hours notice. AirLaunch LLC has now taken the next step, winning a $17.8 million Phase 2B contract for a one-year effort to continue development of the QuickReach small satellite booster.
AirLaunch and its team of contractors recently completed Phase 2A of the program, marked by the safe release of a dummy rocket from an Air Force C-17A cargo plane (see DID coverage). Phases 2B and 2C will focus on additional risk reduction and maturing the launch vehicle design and concept of operations. Activities will include…
During Phase 2B, AirLaunch will conduct further risk reduction activities (including additional C-17 drop tests and an integrated stage two firing), provide an initial Interface Control Document (ICD) for a payload, and complete a Critical Design Review (CDR). The contract also includes an option for Phase 2C, to conduct a flight demonstration of the QuickReach booster and launch a small payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) by 2007.
According to AirLaunch LLC, additional members of the AirLaunch FALCON team include:
- Space Vector of Burbank, CA – launch operations, integration support, avionics wafer, storage and launch carrier
- Universal Space Lines LLC of Newport Beach, CA – Vehicle Management System hardware and software including flight controls
- Orion Propulsion Inc. of Huntsville, AL – propulsion test equipment and test support
- Delta Velocity Corporation of Purcellville, VA – payload fairing, payload planner and user’s guide; and
- HMX of Reno, NV – propulsion including tanks and engines.
AirLaunch is responsible for program management and integration of the complete system, in cooperation with Space Vector. Other subcontractors include:
- Wilson Composite Technologies of Folsom, CA – composite tank expertise
- Spincraft of Billerica, MA – aluminum tanks; and
- AAE Aerospace of Costa Mesa, CA – thrust chamber assemblies