DARPA's ALASA space launch system would turn airports into spaceports

February 9, 2015 2:21 AM

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If you've ever dreamed of turning your municipal airport into a satellite launching facility, then DARPA has your number. At this week's 18th Annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, DC, Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office reported on the progress of the agency's Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, which is designed to launch small satellites into low-Earth orbit using an expendable rocket dropped from a conventional aircraft.

Even after almost 60 years, satellite launches continue to face bottlenecks. They require large rocket boosters that launch from a few locations, and are expensive even when sent as piggyback payloads. Similar in configuration to the 1980s' ASM-135 ASAT system, ALASA consists of a cheap, expendable ...

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