FALCON Phase 1 Contractors Selected
By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2003 Nine contractors have begun work to place a small satellite or other payload weighing about 1,000 pounds into a low Earth orbit.
A Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle capable of taking off from a conventional military runway and striking targets as far as 9,000 miles away is one of three aerial vehicles under conceptual development under the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's FALCON initiative.
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The project is part of the Force Application and Launch from the Continental United States, or FALCON, program. Task 1, Phase 1on the small launch vehicle includes developing conceptual designs, performance predictions, cost objectives and development and demonstration plans.
Three more contractors have also begun work on the phase's Task 2, hypersonic weapon systems. This includes the common aero vehicle, the enhanced common aero vehicle and the hypersonic cruise vehicle.
The CAV will be an unpowered, maneuverable, hypersonic glide vehicle capable of carrying about 1,000 pounds of munitions with a range of about 3,000 nautical miles. The ECAV will offer greater range and improved maneuverability. The reusable HCV will be an independent aircraft capable of taking off from a conventional military runway and striking targets as far as 9,000 nautical miles away in less than two hours.
The goal of the joint Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Air Force program is to develop and validate in- flight technologies that will enable both a near-term (circa 2010) and far-term (circa 2025) capability to execute time-critical, prompt global-reach missions, while at the same time demonstrating affordable and responsive space lift, according to DARPA officials.
Task 1 contractors will receive between $350,000 and $540,000 each for their Phase I effort. Task 2 contractors will receive between $1.2 million and $1.5 million each. Subject to successful negotiations, each contractor will conduct a six-month system definition study within its respective task, said DARPA officials. At the end of Phase 1, DARPA and Air Force personnel will decide whether to proceed with Phase 2, a 36-month design and development effort.