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SIL won one of six awarded contracts for the DARPA Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to produce a rocket capable of launching a 100-pound satellite into low Earth orbit for less than $1 million. Winners included Space Information Laboratories, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Virgin Galactic and Ventions.
DARPA’s ALASA program manager, Mitchell Burnside Clapp, provided more details in an interview with Aviation Week:
The launch platform is to be a “fundamentally unmodified” aircraft. “We do not want an aircraft dedicated to the mission. That is key to the affordability of ALASA,” he said. Apart from software, DARPA’s goal is that the aircraft “does not have any modifications preventing it from performing its primary mission.”
Space Information Laboratories will be providing three key enabling technologies that could be used in multiple launch systems, including “GPS Metric Track, Autonomous Flight Termination System (AFTS) and Space Based Range to reduce range launch cost.”
SIL’s VBITS patented technology will enable DARPA’s ALASA goal to significantly reduce launch cost with Vehicle Based GPS Tracking, Autonomous Flight Termination and Space Based Range Systems. SIL’s pioneering technology will lead the way to bring DOD cost affordability on Aerospace vehicles and ranges.
“We are extremely proud to play a significant role as a DARPA team member with SIL’s VBITS enabling technology to support DARPA’s ALASA goal to launch a 100 pound satellite into LEO for $1 million total cost per launch” said Edmund Burke, Space Information Laboratories, CEO.