Tuesday, December 20, 2011

While Paul Allen and Burt Rutan plan to air-launch Elon Musk's Falcon 9 booster from a six-engined, 385ft-span mothership, DARPA is looking at the other end of the scale with its new Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program. This aims to air-launch 100lb satellites into low Earth orbit from an essentially unmodified aircraft, such as a business jet.

blog post photo
Concepts: DARPA

The objective is to reduce the cost of launching small satellites at least three-fold, to less than $10,000/lb - or a total including range costs of less than $1 million to launch a 100lb payload. The belief is that, as a launch platform, an aircraft will provide higher performance, more frequent flights and greater flexibility in launch site and orbit.
MORE: http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3abe5304f4-1881-4067-b2e8-ef38541a0e77&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest


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