Headlines > News > DAIRLAUNCH LLC COMPLETES ADDITIONAL TESTS AS IT APPROACHES DESIGN REVIEW

DAIRLAUNCH LLC COMPLETES ADDITIONAL TESTS AS IT APPROACHES DESIGN REVIEW

Published by Ekkehard on Mon Nov 6, 2006 12:39 pm
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DAIRLAUNCH LLC COMPLETES ADDITIONAL TESTS AS IT APPROACHES DESIGN REVIEW

Kirkland, Washington (November 3 , 2006) – AirLaunch LLC has completed more testing in development of its QuickReachTM rocket, part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Air Force Falcon Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) program, bringing it closer to critical design review (CDR) and ultimately to a first test launch.

“We continue to make progress and demonstrate how a small company using rapid prototyping can work to help the U.S. government fulfill its developmental needs for operationally responsive space,” said Debra Facktor Lepore, president of AirLaunch LLC.

Earlier last month at NASA ’s Wallops Flight Facility, AirLaunch successfully conducted a payload fairing separation test, part of Milestone 5 of 6 in Phase 2B of the program. All pyrotechnic sequences and mechanical actions operated properly.

“Our team is performing admirably. We are on track in the program, meeting both technical and safety objectives,” said Livingston Holder, AirLaunch LLC’s chief program executive and co-program manager.

AirLaunch has completed 32 horizontal engine test firings and increased the pace of propulsion testing, with 28 of the tests conducted in the past eight months including two per day for three days in a row. All of these tests have used the Vapor Pressurization (VaPak) system, providing further data to validate its use with liquid oxygen and propane.

The most recent tests included the following:

• Oct. 4 – Two hot fire tests to measure and improve combustion efficiency
• Oct. 6 – Test firing to measure and improve combustion efficiency
• Oct. 9 – Igniter successfully tested at altitude equivalent to 68,000 ft
• Oct. 10 – Two five second high altitude ignition hot fire tests, at 53,000 ft and 54,000 ft
• Oct. 13 – Igniter tested at an altitude equivalent to 73,000 ft
• Oct. 16 – Two high altitude ignition test firings to qualify an igniter from a second vendor.

The next series of test firings begin this month and will culminate in a full mission burn (approximately 230 secs) of the engine integrated with the second stage in a flight configuration on a vertical test stand. This will be the first time the engine will be tested vertically. All of these tests and milestones are leading to the Incremental Critical Design Review (I-CDR) scheduled for mid-November.

AirLaunch’s prior successes include three drop tests of a QuickReach™ test article simulating the operational dimensions and mass of the QuickReach™ rocket and setting a new record each time for the largest and heaviest object dropped from a C-17 cargo aircraft. The last drop test employed a full-scale simulated rocket that was nearly 66 ft long, weighed 72,000 lbs and dropped from an altitude of 32,000 ft.

AirLaunch LLC is a small business headquartered in Kirkland, Washington. The company is developing a cost effective, accessible system that allows for quick deployment of communications satellites and remote sensing payloads for both military and civil needs. AirLaunch has the ability to launch 1,000 lbs to Low Earth Orbit, within 24 hours with a cost of less than $5 million.

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