Headlines > News > Aurlaunch llc completes milestone

Aurlaunch llc completes milestone

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Sun Mar 26, 2006 1:14 pm
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AirLaunch LLC announced that it has successfully completed Milestone 2 of its Phase 2B DARPA/Air Force Falcon program contract, another step in the development of the company’s QuickReach™ small launch vehicle.

AirLaunch conducted two second stage engine test fires within 24 hours at a test facility in Mojave, California . The two tests, performed on February 28 and March 1, 2006, signaled the beginning of the Phase 2B QuickReach™ Stage 2 engine hot fire test program, that will lead to integrated second stage testing later this year. In Phase 2A, AirLaunch conducted four second stage engine test fires as proof of concept for its vapor pressurization (VAPAK) propulsion system using liquid oxygen (LOX) and propane.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of the two engine test fires in Milestone 2. Vapor pressurization has been studied for many years, and these tests, along with our Phase 2A tests, show that VAPAK works with a LOX/propane system,” said Debra Facktor Lepore , President of AirLaunch.

The two engine test fires validated an updated, flight-like injector design and resulted in further confirmation of the feasibility of AirLaunch’s VAPAK propulsion system. Each test lasted 13 seconds, with 2 seconds of ignition and 11 seconds of full burn, using AirLaunch’s larger engine test stand that was built as part of the Phase 2B Milestone 2 activities.

Valued at $17.8 million for a one-year effort, AirLaunch’s Falcon Phase 2B contract enables the company and its team of subcontractors to continue developing the QuickReach™ small satellite booster. AirLaunch completed Milestone 1 of Phase 2B on January 18, 2006, with a successful second stage separation test. In 2005, Team AirLaunch completed Phase 2A on time and on budget with significant hardware and testing, including four engine test firings, a stage separation test, ground drop test, and a C-17 drop test in September.

The Falcon program goal is to develop a vehicle that can launch 1,000 pounds to orbit for less than $5 million with only 24 hours notice. AirLaunch’s design achieves responsiveness by carrying its QuickReach™ booster to altitude inside the cargo bay of an unmodified C-17A or other large cargo aircraft. Phase 2B will culminate with a Critical Design Review this fall. Phase 2C anticipates a demonstration launch in 2008.

AirLaunch second stage engine test fires validated the flight-like injector system and provided further confirmation of its QuickReach™ vehicle Vapor Pressurization (VAPAK) propulsion system

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