Scaled partner in new space venture, Mojave rocket talent also involved
BY BILL DEAVER
MOJAVE - Scaled Composites of Mojave Airport is a partner in a Defense
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) venture to build a system to provide low-cost access
to space, Aviation Week & Space Technology reported this week.
Two other firms that, like Scaled, have ties to the former Rotary Rocket
vehicle project, are also involved in the "RASCAL" (Responsive Access Small Cargo
Affordable Launch) program, the magazine reported.
Space Launch, Inc., and HMK, Inc., both of which include former Rotary
involved in the project. Space Launch, based in Irvine, is involved in systems engineering
and developing a reusable rocket that would be launched from an aircraft Scaled will
design and build, the magazine reported. Scaled built the Roton vehicle and a simulator.
Engine test stand
AW&ST writer Robert Wall reported that HMK built a test stand at Mojave
Airport that will
be used to test jet engines that will use "mass injection precompressor cooling" (MIPCC)
to power the MPV (MIPCC-powered vehicle) Scaled will build.
MIPCC technology involves boosting the thrust of engines such as existing
engines by injecting water and liquid oxygen to decrease operating temperatures and
increase durability, the AW&ST story said.
The MPV aircraft to be built by Scaled would take off and land from a conventional
and climb to a launch altitude of 200,000 feet using the "zoom" maneuver perfected by test
pilots at nearby Edwards Air Force Base years ago.
Flying at about Mach 1.2, the aircraft would launch a two-stage expendable
(ERV) with a 110-lb. payload into a 675 nautical mile Sun-synchronous orbit, according to
the magazine. The RASCAL system may also be able to launch 2,000-lb. military payloads
to 2,500 nautical miles.
Payloads could be military or non-military payloads and DARPA is aiming
launch costs in the neighborhood of $750,000, AW&ST said.
The projected MPV aircraft would be 89-feet long with an 81-foot wingspan
wing area, and would be operated by an on-board pilot rather than being unmanned, the
After launching the ERV, the MPV would re-enter the atmosphere, using a
thermal protection system to deal with an expected "comparatively benign thermal
On what may be a related note, Scaled's SpaceShipOne spacecraft made its
successful landing at Mojave Airport Tuesday morning after being released from the White
Knight mothership. It would appear that some of the technology being developed for the
SpaceShipOne program could be applied to DARPA's MPV proposal.
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