June 8, 2012

Boeing receives DARPA airborne satellite launch study contract

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Boeing has been awarded an 18-month study contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to evaluate technologies for on-demand small satellite launch systems.

Under the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access contract, worth about $4.5 million, Boeing will analyze affordable, aircraft-based satellite launch platforms that can quickly deploy small satellites or payloads of up to 100 pounds into any required orbit.

“We will apply experience from across Boeing in aircraft and launch system development and operation, as well as our proven rapid prototyping skills, to offer an innovative analysis to support this important DARPA mission,” said Steve Johnston, director of Advanced Space Exploration for Boeing Phantom Works. “ALASA will expand our knowledge of launch system solutions that can be integrated into existing operational aircraft with minimal modifications.”

The goal of ALASA is to develop a significantly less expensive approach for routinely launching small satellites, with a goal of at least threefold reduction in costs compared with current military and U.S. commercial launch costs.

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Northrop Grumman photograph

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