Dummy booster rocket tests satellite launcher

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE A company vying to develop a new military satellite launch system dropped a 72,000-pound dummy booster rocket from a C-17 transport plane this week, moving the effort closer to a real launch. The dummy booster was dropped Wednesday over Edwards as part of AirLaunch LLC’s efforts to develop a launch vehicle called QuickReach rocket, intended to be able to put small surveillance and communication satellites into space more quickly and for significantly less money than conventional rockets. At just under 66 feet in length and weighing 36 tons, the dummy booster matches the characteristics of an operational rocket. The C-17A aircraft released the dummy at the operational launch altitude of 32,000 feet, the company said. The drop was third in a series of tests to verify the ability of the C-17 to safely deliver AirLaunch’s QuickReach rocket to its operational launch altitude. Each test set a new C-17 record for the longest and heaviest single items dropped from the aircraft. “The team has now flown three drop tests, using three separate C-17 aircraft, demonstrating that any C-17 can be used for AirLaunch drops and ultimately for our QuickReach launches,” said Debra Facktor Lepore, president of AirLaunch LLC. “This test also leads to a new spacelift role for the C-17 the aircraft can deliver troops and humanitarian aid one day and launch a satellite the next.” The QuickReach rocket would be carried aloft by an airplane to its launch area, then dropped to fire its rocket motor and fly into space carrying a satellite. The Kirkland, Wash., company is looking to launch a live QuickReach rocket in 2008. AirLaunch wants to create a system capable of launching a 1,000-pound satellite into space within 24 hours of getting an order, and doing it for a cost under $5 million. Now it costs about $20 million to launch a satellite of that size and it can take months to prepare a launch. The test was part of a program that is exploring a new way of launching small satellites into space called the Falcon Small Launch Vehicle program, administered by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force. “Having a quick reaction launch system that can launch specialized small satellites will provide the warfighter with real-time data and communication during time-urgent situations,” said Steve Walker, DARPA program manager. “This test demonstrates that small companies can successfully work with government agencies to produce low cost, innovative solutions for the warfighter.” AirLaunch’s QuickReach rocket would carry satellites equipped with communications, camera and sensor payloads that allow special-purpose support for military activities, hurricanes and forest fires, as well as enable time-urgent communications in remote areas, the company said. AirLaunch’s industry team includes three Mojave companies Scaled Composites, which provided a data acquisition system and truck-mounted model testing; Protoflight, which provided instrumentation, testing, and integration services; and Fiberset, which built the nose cone. The flight testing is being supported by the Air Force Flight Test at Edwards Air Force Base. [email protected] (661) 267-5743last_img

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