Rocket motor

Poway, CA-based SpaceDev has been awarded a $2.7 million contract by the US Air Force to begin work on a large hybrid rocket motor.

SpaceDev is to design, develop and test a small common booster capable of producing about 100,000 pounds of thrust, almost nine times that of the SpaceDev rocket motor technology used in Paul Allen’s SpaceShipOne which won the $10 million Ansari X Prize last year.

Under the contract, SpaceDev will be paid on a cost plus fixed fee basis related to the project. The company will own the technology that it develops, although the Air Force will retain certain licensing rights related to the technology.

The overall goal is to demonstrate successful ignition and operation of a booster stage hybrid motor that can produce a reliable and reproducible thrust profile.

Test firings of the prototype rocket motor are to begin next year.