Headlines > News > Airlaunch completes incremental critical design review and begins vertical test stand activities

Airlaunch completes incremental critical design review and begins vertical test stand activities

Published by Ekkehard on Wed Mar 28, 2007 10:17 am
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Kirkland, Washington (March 14 , 2007) –AirLaunch LLC continues to make progress toward completing the milestones of Phase 2B of the DARPA/Air Force Falcon Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) program. In November 2006, AirLaunch successfully completed the Incremental Critical Design Review (I-CDR) of the QuickReach™ SLV. In addition to the DARPA and Air Force program management team, government personnel from a variety of agencies participated in the review.

The remaining Phase 2B activities include a series of engine test fires of the QuickReach™ Integrated Stage 2 (IS2) Vapor Pressurization (VaPak) propulsion system on the Vertical Test Stand (VTS). To prepare for these tests, AirLaunch has conducted cold flow tests of the liquid oxygen in the VTS and a 10-second hot fire test to checkout the VTS facility. AirLaunch has also improved the tank insulation and added a preconditioning system for the propane fuel; these enhancements will accelerate loading operations.

All Mil-Std-882 safety tasks assigned to Phase 2B are completed to the satisfaction of the program system safety review board, which included representatives from the C-17 Airworthiness Review Board at Wright Patterson AFB and the Safety Review Board at Edwards AFB. Both review boards approved the successful drop tests of inert test articles from the C-17 in Phase 2B.

The remaining engine firings are expected to be completed by the end of April 2007, after which a Go/No-Go decision into Phase 2C will be made by the program. Phase 2C focuses on additional propulsion activities and safety mitigation including the design and development of the onboard propellant conditioning system. This system would be tested on the ground in a C-17 mock-up. Phase 2C culminates in a full critical design review, after which a Go/No Go decision is expected for Phase 2D. Phase 2D incorporates first stage engine testing as well as the final safety elements, including approvals by the appropriate safety review and flight readiness review boards prior to a first test flight.

The Falcon SLV program is governed by a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed by DARPA and the Air Force in May 2003 with DARPA managing the program and the Air Force funding the program from its Operational Responsive Space (ORS) budget line. AirLaunch expects that, given successful accomplishment of future milestones, the Falcon SLV program will continue to be funded as agreed in the MOA.

QuickReach™ provides real value for changing the way the nation operates in the launch business. Integrating Air Force air (C-17) and space capabilities, with AirLaunch’s responsive, low-cost and operable QuickReach™ rocket, ultimately gives the warfighter faster access to space, enabling a variety of ORS missions.

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