DARPA or the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency intends to put satellites in orbit. It is not an easy task to do, it in fact costs a lot of money and time. Sending things to space would cost $10 thousand per pound. It will take long to send since small satellites are considered second priority cargos. By this the owners of the satellite will have to wait until a more important cargo is needed to be sent like when NASA spacecraft or International Space Station has to replenish for a mission. This will give them the chance to have their satellites put into orbit.
Finally DARPA has discovered another strategy to realize their objective. The Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program urgently intends to have small satellites into orbit for the least expensive way using jets as launch vehicles.
The director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office released and information regarding ALASA’s development at the Annual Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C.
Tousley said that ALASA is currently on the design stage and has chosen Boeing as their main contractor to test the prototype system.
“We’ve made good progress so far toward ALASA’s ambitious goal of propelling 100-pound satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) within 24 hours of call-up, all for less than $1 million per launch. We’re moving ahead with rigorous testing of new technologies that we hope one day could enable revolutionary satellite launch systems that provide more affordable, routine and reliable access to space,” stated Tousley.
“ALASA seeks to overcome the limitations of current launch systems by streamlining design and manufacturing and leveraging the flexibility and re-usability of an air-launched system. We envision an alternative to ride-sharing for satellites that enables satellite owners to launch payloads from any location into orbits of their choosing, on schedules of their choosing, on a launch vehicle designed specifically for small payloads,” said Mitchell Burnside Clapp, DARPA program manager for ALASA.
ALASA’s design stage produced three attainable systems for the launch. The application stage though is still found to be a little difficult. DARPA strives to minimize the cost per flight that will amount to $ 1 million, which is still equivalent to $ 10,000 for every pound of a 100 pound satellite.
DARPA is not the only one that is trying to reduce the cost of sending cargo, SpaceX is also working on it by designing stage 1 vehicles. NASA had also made it their mission to reduce its costs as well.