U.S. Army Seeks Input on Low-cost Launcher

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The U.S. Army is seeking ideas for developing a small-satellite launcher that could launch on 24 hours’ notice and eventually cost as little as $1 million apiece to build, according to a request for information posted to the service’s acquisition website.

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command said in a May 22 request they were considering a demonstration of a “low cost, responsive, tactical space launch vehicle.” Ideally, the vehicle would be able to place one or more satellites weighing 100 kilograms or more into low Earth orbit.

The vehicles could also be used as sounding rockets and as targets for missile defense tests, the request said. 

“Launch responsiveness is an important capability the U.S. Army needs in the future, so the [space launch vehicle] must be capable of being brought from garrison storage to flight readiness within 24 hours,” the request said.

The Army envisions a production mode of at least 10 vehicles a year costing less than $10 million apiece with the goal of getting unit costs below $1 million. A flight test is expected within three years of a contract award.

An industry day will be held June 13 in Huntsville, Alabama. Responses to the request for information are due by June 27.