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A.V. FIRMS ON SPACE TEAMS.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

PALMDALE - Three Antelope Valley companies will be involved in the Defense Department's search for a reliable, low-cost system to get small cargoes into space.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the same technology development organization that fostered the development of the stealth fighter, announced it has chosen six contractor teams to perform studies for a space launch system.

DARPA is allocating $1 million to $2 million to each team for the nine- month study phase of a program dubbed the Responsive Access, Small Cargo and Affordable Launch demonstration program, or RASCAL.

``The program will develop a rapid, routine small-payload delivery system capable of providing flexible access to space using a combination of reusable and low-cost expendable vehicle elements,'' said program manager Preston Carter.

The program's goal is to develop a two-stage space-launch system capable of putting satellites and other payloads weighing less than 150 pounds into low Earth orbit for a total cost less than $5,000 per pound per launch.

The system would have a reusable first stage that would operate like an aircraft and an expendable second stage.

Three Antelope Valley companies are involved in the project - Space Access LLC of Palmdale; XCOR Aerospace, a Mojave rocket firm; and Scaled Composites, designer Burt Rutan's Mojave company, which is a partner on two of the contractor teams.

Space Access LLC is partnered with APRI, Honeywell and Microcosm.

XCOR is part of a team lead by Coleman Research Corp. of Orlando, Fla.

Scaled Composites is part of a team that includes Pioneer Rocketplane Corp. of Solvang, Calif.

Scaled Composites is also part of a team that includes Space Launch Corp. of Costa Mesa.

The other contractor teams selected for the study are lead by Northrop Grumman and Delta Velocity of Leesburg, Va.

At the end of the study phase, DARPA will select two teams for a one- year system design phase. DARPA will eventually select one contractor team to build and flight test a space launch system in the fiscal year that begins in October 2006.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 29, 2002
Words:341
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