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Air Force Signs Lockheed Martin For Hybrid Launch Vehicle

By | May 8, 2006

      The Air Force selected Lockheed Martin Corp. to advance the Hybrid Launch Vehicle (HLV) program.

      Lockheed received a $2.5 million contract for work on the HLV studies and analysis program.

      It will provide the Air Force with an affordable, responsive, reliable and simple-to-operate capability for launching tactical space assets and conventional satellites into low earth orbit, Lockheed stated.

      A Lockheed unit, Space Systems, is one of four companies awarded contracts for the program by the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif.

      Lockheed will formulate conceptual designs for an operational system architecture, a subscale demonstrator and associated ground hardware and infrastructure for an HLV that employs a reusable first-stage booster and an expendable upper stage.

      "Our expertise in reusable launch vehicles positions us to formulate a system design concept that will completely meet the Air Force’s needs for a highly operable vehicle that also is extremely reliable," said Dave Kennon, Lockheed Hybrid Launch Vehicle program manager.

      "Under our concept, the HLV will take off vertically and the reusable first stage will return to the launch site for a horizontal landing."

      Previous Air Force studies found that the hybrid approach–a reusable booster with expendable upper stages–offers cost advantages over a fully expendable or fully reusable vehicle.

      This approach also will be highly responsive, with an anticipated 24- to 48-hour turnaround time, according to the company. Air Force requirements call for an HLV that will accommodate medium to heavy lift (10,000 to 15,000 pounds).

      The Lockheed Martin contract includes a base amount of $1.2 million over a period of 14 months and an option for $1.3 million over a period of six months.

      Lockheed will perform HLV Studies and Analysis program management in Denver and engineering support work in New Orleans, and in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas. Lockheed Martin’s team includes subcontractors Aerojet of Sacramento, Calif., and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., for reusable propulsion systems. Pratt & Whitney is a unit of United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, Conn.
      In an upcoming separate procurement, the Air Force will select two contractor teams to design subscale HLV demonstrators, with work to begin in fiscal year 2007. After preliminary design review, the Air Force will select one contractor team to develop the demonstrator HLV. The full-scale HLV is planned to be initially operational by 2018.

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