Garvey Nanosat Launcher Selected for NASA SBIR Funding

Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle. (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft)
Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle. (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft)

NASA has selected Garvey Spacecraft of Long Beach, Calif., for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award for work on the development of a nanosat launch vehicle capable of lifting up to 20 kg into low Earth orbit. The maximum amount available under the space agency’s six-month SBIR Select Phase I award program is $200,000.

Garvey plans to use the award for “the continued functional evolution and concept refinement of an incremental series of test vehicles” to serve the nano- and micro-sat launch markets. Initial versions of the launch vehicle will be capable of delivering 10 kg payloads into a 250 km orbit. The ultimate goal is to place satellites weighing up to 20 kg into a 450 km orbit.

A synopsis of the project follows.

PROPOSAL TITLE: Incremental Evolution of a 10/250 NLV into a 20/450 NMSLV

SUBTOPIC TITLE: Nano/Micro Satellite Launch Vehicle Technology

Garvey Spacecraft Corporation
Long Beach, CA

Christopher M. Bostwick

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 7


ORBITEC’s Rocket Engine Soars Above the Mojave Desert

MADISON, Wisconsin (ORBITEC PR) — Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) has successfully flight-tested its new rocket engine and technologies in Mojave, CA. ORBITEC integrated its Vortex Liquid Rocket Engine into a launch vehicle airframe designed and built by Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) of Long Beach, California and California State University at Long Beach.


Garvey Spacecraft Selected for NASA SBIR Award

Garvey's Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle. (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft)

Garvey Spacecraft of Long Beach, Calif., has been selected for a NASA Small Business Innovation Research award to develop alternative hydrocarbon propulsion for a nano-sat/micro-sat launch vehicle. No terms were mentioned, but SBIR awards are typically for six months for amounts up to $125,000. The award is contingent upon contract negotiations.

“The technical innovation proposed here is the application of an alternative hydrocarbon fuel – densified propylene, in combination with liquid oxygen (LOX) – that has the potential to enhance the performance of a proposed Nano / Micro Launch Vehicle (NMLV) enough such that a simple two-stage, pressure-fed configuration will be sufficient for orbital missions. Besides eliminating the third stage, the absence of turbopumps reduces hardware costs, improves overall system reliability and simplifies engine start-up,” the proposal reads.

A full description of the project follows after the break.


Garvey Space Gets NASA Contract for Nanosat Launches

Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle. (Credit: Garvey Spacecraft)

GSC PR — Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) has been awarded a contract from the NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) at Kennedy Space Center, FL to provide a high altitude launch service for demonstration NanoSatellites. This contract consists of a single launch with potential extension at the Government’s discretion to up to four additional launches.

NASA LSP plans to evolve this capability to provide low-cost, frequent near-term flight opportunities for universities and other academic institutions who are pioneering the development of CubeSat and NanoSat-class payloads. It is anticipated that the results and experiences from these entry-level flight projects will complement and contribute to subsequent orbital missions that LSP is also responsible for under its Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ELaNa) program.

To satisfy NASA’s requirement that the launch vehicle have at minimum one successful previous launch, GSC and its partner California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) are providing the Prospector 18 suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV) that has already undertaken three flights since March of this year. The P-18 is the latest in a series of test vehicles that are establishing the foundation for an operational nanosat launch vehicle (NLV) capability.

“This LSP launch service leverages our team’s ongoing efforts to develop an operational nanosat launch vehicle that is dedicated to this emerging market,” remarked GSC’s CEO John Garvey. “Like the payload providers, we expect to learn a great deal and intend to apply these insights to an NLV that can take such spacecraft all the way to orbit.”