Military and commercial users would be able to launch payloads more rapidly and at lesser cost under a study project being undertaken by Northrop Grumman for a new generation, rapid response, small launch vehicle to place small payloads in low Earth orbit.
The company has been awarded a contract from the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency for the first phase of the program, known as Responsive Access, Small Cargo and Affordable Launch (RASCAL).
During the nine-month first phase, Northrop Grumman will provide technical and cost information to determine the feasibility of developing a RASCAL demonstration system.
The three-phase demonstration program will comprise four critical technology areas: high-powered, short-cycle propulsion systems; a low-cost reusable launch vehicle (RLV); a low-cost expendable rocket vehicle (ERV), and the technology to stage the ERV and control the RLV in the Earth’s outer atmosphere. Orbital Sciences Corporation is the lead contractor for the ERV portion of Northrop Grumman’s RASCAL concept.
Northrop Grumman’s work on the $1.9 million contract will be performed at its Integrated Systems facility in San Diego, California.