Boeing (NYSE: BA) will work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop and test an airborne launching system for deploying small satellites under a potential $104 million contract.
The contract contains $30,673,934 in base funds and two option periods that are separately worth $72,044,948 and $2,032,857, DARPA said in a Monday FedBizOpps notice.
DARPA started the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access program to develop a complete launch vehicle that needs no recurring maintenance, support or specific integration work.
Through ALASA, the agency aims to launch satellites that weigh 100 pounds each for less than $1 million total for orbits that are selected specifically for each 100-pound payload.
Small satellite payloads currently cost more than $30,000 per pound to launch and always share a launcher with other satellites, the agency says.
ALASA’s goals also include work to leverage emerging technologies to provide:
- increased specific impulse propellants
- stable propellant formulations
- hybrid propellant systems
- potential “infrastructure-free” cryogen production
- new motor case materials
- new flight controls and mission planning techniques
- new nozzle designs
- improved thrust vectoring methods
- new throttling approaches