Aurora Receives $6.2M for Hydrogen-Powered Orion UAV
Small business qualifier Aurora Flight Sciences in Manassas, VA received a $6.2 million modification to a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Orion Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Prototype Development and Test Flight. Work is expected to be complete by Sept. 30, 2010, and will be performed at Mississippi State University’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory in Starkville, MS; Aurora just completed a new production facility nearby. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. There were an unknown number of bids solicited via the World Wide Web on Dec. 21, 2005, and one bid was received by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, AL (W9113M-06-C-0186).
Orion HALL (High Altitude, Long Loiter) is a hydrogen powered UAV designed to fly at high altitudes for up to 4 days. Unlike other platforms Aurora is involved in like the RQ-4 Global Hawk, the Orion HALL will reportedly have a much smaller carrying capacity of about 180 kg/ 400 pounds. This would limit its surveillance capabilities but make it an outstanding communications relay. The project is a collaboration with Boeing’s cutting-edge Phantom Works division, who is working on a version with a 10-day endurance. The first Orion UAV is expected to fly in 2008.