Headlines > News > Airlaunch LLC, DARPA nd US Air Force kickoff phase 2c

Airlaunch LLC, DARPA nd US Air Force kickoff phase 2c

Published by Ekkehard on Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:33 am
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Kirkland, Washington (July 16, 2007) -Air Launch LLC announced today that it has received approval from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the U.S. Air Force to continue into Phase 2C of the Falcon Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) program. DARPA and the Air Force will jointly fund this phase of the program, valued at $7.6 million, with DARPA providing program management and the Air Force Research Laboratory providing technical support.
Phase 2C will focus on propulsion characterization of the company’s innovative liquid oxygen (LOX)/propane vapor pressurization (VaPak) propulsion system.

Phase 2C Milestones include upgrades to hardware, instrumentation, and test stands; and a series of test fires on the Horizontal Test Stand (HTS) to gather data on engine performance and on the Vertical Test Stand (VTS) to more comprehensively characterize second stage performance.

“Phase 2C enables us to show the utility of our system to other vehicle applications, in addition to our QuickReach™ small launch vehicle,” said Debra Facktor Lepore, president of AirLaunch LLC. “We also intend to pursue other applications of our unique AirLaunch architecture.”

To date, AirLaunch has conducted 50 test fires of its innovative propulsion system, all using VaPak. The QuickReach™ second stage engine has been fired 45 times, totaling 359.5 seconds, on the Horizontal Test Stand, in addition to several cold flow tests. Five test fires, totaling 315.5 seconds, have been performed on the Vertical Test Stand with the QuickReach™ Integrated Stage 2 (IS2), in addition to several propellant loading and conditioning tests. The IS2 firings incorporated ground propellant loading operations and flight-type avionics, software and systems. Transition of liquid oxygen to gaseous oxygen, a feature of VaPak, has been observed in test fires on both the HTS and VTS.

Previous accomplishments by AirLaunch include three record setting C-17 drop tests with a simulated full-scale, full-weight, inert QuickReach™ rocket; full-scale stage separation tests; assembly of the payload fairing and adapter cone; payload fairing separation test; ground drop tests; implementation of a Mil-Std-882 safety process and completion of all safety tasks assigned to Phase 2B; and an Incremental Critical Design Review (I-CDR).

AirLaunch completed Phase 2B of the Falcon SLV program in April 2007. The company’s QuickReach™ booster is specifically designed to meet the Falcon SLV program needs – capable of delivering 1,000 pounds to low earth orbit for $5 million per launch, with less than 24-hour response time. AirLaunch’s approach achieves responsiveness by flying the two-stage, pressurized QuickReach™ system inside an unmodified C-17A or other large cargo aircraft.

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