DARPA/USAF FALCON Program

DARPA/USAF FALCON Program The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the United States Air Force (USAF) have just released contracts to start development for their FALCON program, which is an acronym for Force Application and Launch from CONtinental United States. It is to be developed in two parts with the Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) expected to be complete by 2010 and a Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV) expected by 2025. Nine contractors were selected to perform a phase one level systems definition for the SLV. Exquadrum was awarded an SLV contract through the joint efforts of Environmental Aeroscience and Cesaroni Aerospace to develop our launch vehicle called "Kestrel".

The goal of the joint DARPA/Air Force Program is to develop and validate in flight technologies that will enable both near term and far term capability to demonstrate affordable and responsive space lift capabilities. The SLV will be designed to place small satellites into a Sun Synchronous Orbit with a payload ranging from 200 Lbs up to 1000 Lbs at a 450 mile orbit at a 79 degree inclination. In addition, a total launch cost of less than 5 million dollars or less is desired. Existing launch systems are costly and in limited supply so the solicitation specifically requested innovative technologies to reduce launch cost and improve launch responsiveness. Emphasis will be on incremental flight-testing using a building block approach.

The government was seeking a "clean sheet of paper" approach to open the design for SLV boosters and to "think out of the box" to propose unique collaborative designs using creative integration of the latest advances and operations to enable a revolutionary advance in payload lofting capabilities. Environmental Aeroscience has significant flight experience with our Hyperion series Sounding Rocket and is best known for our innovative hybrid designs. Of the nine winning teams only eAc and our Hybrid Propulsion Demonstration Program (HPDP) partner LM Michoud were chosen from the Hybrid community with the other big name players demonstrating expertise in Bi-Propellant Liquids and Solids. Working under Exquadrum and with Cesaroni Aerospace, eAc will continue to develop the technologies required to become the leaders in low cost orbital payload delivery systems.

 

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