XCOR To Design and Analyze Rocket-Powered Vehicle
The US Air Force announced at the
23rd National Space Symposium April 11 that it awarded XCOR
Aerospace a contract to design and analyze a rocket-powered vehicle
that will reach 200,000 feet altitude and supersonic speeds.
The Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase 1 contract
is part of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Air Vehicle
Directorate's Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Access Mission.
The SBIR program is one of the most important public policy
programs, with a goal of generating innovative high technology
firms and promoting competitiveness and growth.
Using government and private funding, XCOR will construct a
simple, all rocket-powered vehicle that will fly low suborbital
Preliminary vehicle design is currently underway.
Private investment will be matched with USAF resources to
complete vehicle fabrication during the SBIR Phase II period.
The vehicle will build on the success of XCOR's previous
commercial and government technology projects, including reusable
liquid rocket engines capable of hundreds of restarts, piston
propellant pumps, low-cost highly-reliable valves, rapid
propellant-filling techniques, and proven reliable ignition
The contract provides the AF with a
tool for demonstrating operationally responsive high-performance
rocket systems with relevance to space lift and other military
requirements, and will produce a flyable vehicle that it can use as
a test bed to empirically assess the parameters that drive
These parameters include labor hours per flight, turnaround
time, which subsystems require the most unscheduled maintenance,
what the frequency of failure is, and what their time of
The AFRL will be able to insert new technologies, such as
Integrated Systems Health Management, longer life subsystems, or
other technologies that the AF may want to evaluate and measure for
their impact on vehicle performance and responsiveness.
XCOR has several years' experience with a rocket-powered
vehicle, the EZ-Rocket, which flew 26 times, demonstrated a
three-hour turnaround time, and flew two sorties per day.
Said Jeff Greason, XCOR president and co-founder, "XCOR is
excited to be working with the Air Force Research Laboratory Air
Vehicles Directorate on this project. We look forward to advancing
capabilities that solve the overlapping needs of the military and
commercial space flight."
Located in Mojave, CA, and founded in 1999, XCOR Aerospace
develops and produces reusable rocket engines, rocket propulsion
systems, and rocket-powered vehicles.