Supersonic & Hypersonic Civilian Transport Projects in Development

Overture supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom Supersonic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Boom Supersonic’s recent rollout of its XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft marked a milestone in an accelerating race to revive an era of civilian supersonic travel that ended when the Concorde jetliner was retired in 2003.

XB-1, aka Baby Boom, is set to begin flight tests next year from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The Mach 2.2 (2,717 km/h, 1,688 mph) vehicle is the precursor to Boom’s 55-seat Overture airliner, which is scheduled to begin carrying passengers in 2029.

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Northrop Grumman, AFRL Partner to Provide Critical Advanced Technology in Space Solar Power

An artistic representation showcases the capture of solar energy in space that is precisely beamed it to where it is needed through the Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project. (Credit: Northrop Grumman)

Project directly supports the Space Solar Power Initiative converting solar power in space to radio frequency on Earth.

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Northrop Grumman PR) — Northrop Grumman is working with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on a project to rapidly infuse space technological innovations to incrementally develop component technologies needed for a prototype solar energy collection system.

The project is designed to provide constant, consistent and logistically agile power to expeditionary forces operating in unimproved areas such as forward operating bases. These forces require assured power that will be transmitted via radio frequency (RF) from spacecraft.

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Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Enterprise Team Wins David Packard Award

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (USAF PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise team has won the 2019 David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award. 

The Packard Award recognizes Department of Defense organizations for innovation and best acquisition practices. SMC’s Launch Enterprise team crafted an acquisition strategy of innovative public-private investments in launch vehicle development, resulting in the continuous delivery of acquisition performance with both affordability and speed.

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USAF Space and Missile Systems Center Payloads Arrive at Space Station

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (SMSC PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and its mission partners successfully delivered the Aerospace Rogue Alpha/Beta CubeSats and Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) to the International Space Station.

The mission, designated NG-12, started with the on-time launch of an upgraded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A Nov. 2 at 9:59 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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Kleos Space Establishes US Subsidiary

  • Wholly owned subsidiary incorporated to target largest Defence and Security market
    • US$692 billion (~628 EUR billion) US national security budget (Bryce 2019)
    • Former intelligence community and US Department of Defence senior executive, Head of Kleos US Strategy, Karyn Hayes-Ryan, appointed Director
  • US Government Departments to access datasets from Kleos’ commercial satellites, enhancing US surveillance capability
  • Effective local support for existing Kleos projects
  • Kleos operations now cover US, UK, Luxembourg and Australia

LUXEMBOURG, 15 October 2019 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, headquartered in Luxembourg, has incorporated a wholly-owned US subsidiary to integrate and sell its maritime ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) data into US defence and security government departments, agencies and industry.

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USAF Awards ULA Contracts for 5 Delta IV Heavy Launches

The United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket launches NASA’s Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Parker Solar Probe is humanity’s first-ever mission into a part of the Sun’s atmosphere called the corona. Here it will directly explore solar processes that are key to understanding and forecasting space weather events that can impact life on Earth. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) –– The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), awarded a sole source, five-year, $1.18 billion Firm-Fixed-Price (FFP) modification of the Delta IV Heavy contract (FA8811-19-C-0002), saving $455 million.

This modification was awarded Sept. 27 to United Launch Alliance (ULA) for Launch Operations Support (LOPS), in support of five NRO Launch (NROL) missions: NROL-44, NROL-82, NROL-91, NROL-68 and NROL-70.

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Final Request For Proposal Released for U.S. Air Force Launch Services Contract

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. (USAF PR) — The Air Force released a final Request for Proposal for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Launch Services for the following payloads: National Reconnaissance Office Launch (NROL)-85, NROL-87, SILENTBARKER, Space-Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (SBIRS GEO)-5, and Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)-44. The final RFP was released on Jan. 31 with proposals due back to the Air Force on April 16 in accordance with the solicitation instructions. The contracts for these launch services are expected to be awarded in late 2018.

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ULA’s USAF Launch Contract Worth $191 Million

An United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the WorldView-4 spacecraft lifts off from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF PR) — The Air Force announced today the award of the third competitively sourced National Security Space (NSS) launch service after more than a decade of sole-sourced contracts. United Launch Alliance was awarded a contract for Space Test Program 3 (STP-3) Launch Service. This is a firm-fixed price, standalone contract with a value of $191,141,581.

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Air Force Releases Final RFP for New Rideshare Capability on Space Launch Missions

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF SMC PR) —The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) released a final request for proposal for the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapters, or LDPE. The foundational technology for the LDPE is the EELV Secondary Payload Adapters, or ESPA, which is an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) initiative to host auxiliary payloads on primary spacecraft launch missions.

This SMC acquisition responds to the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) standard service policy that requires rideshare services on launch missions when feasible. The LDPE leverages propulsive ESPA technologies developed by AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate. The product of this procurement represents significant progress toward AFSPC objectives to provide secondary payload rideshare opportunities on Department of Defense launch missions.

The DPE program will be a competitively bid acquisition for an EELV-compatible payload adapter with power, attitude control, and propulsive capabilities. The effort will include integration services for government-furnished payloads and one year of early orbit checkout and operations. The contract will have options for two additional LDPE systems that would be manifested on future AFSPC missions.

SMC, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force’s center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.

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Moog Completes First Project Under USAF’s Booster Propulsion Maturation Program

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The first of ten contracts awarded under the Booster Propulsion Technology Maturation Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) was recently completed. Moog Inc. successfully completed a “Non-Destructive Evaluation, Standards, and Testing” project, March 13. The company met all program objectives and completed all deliverables on time and on budget during the 15-month period of performance.

The Space and Missile Systems Center awarded the Booster Propulsion BAA contracts between November 2015 to January 2016 with the objective of maturing technologies and reducing risk in support of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. The BAA was part of a comprehensive Air Force plan to transition off the Russian made RD-180 propulsion system used on the Atlas V rocket by investing in domestic industry launch solutions.

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ULA Awards Upper Stage Engine Contract to XCOR

Engine hot fire (Credit: XCOR)
Engine hot fire (Credit: XCOR)

MIDLAND, Texas, March 9, 2016 (XCOR PR) — United Launch Alliance (ULA), the nation’s premier launch services provider, has awarded XCOR Aerospace with a new contract through the United States Air Force to develop an upper stage propulsion system for Vulcan, ULA’s next-generation launch system.

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USAF Awards Additional Booster Maturation Contracts

USAF_Space_Missile_Systems_CenterBoeing and Arctic Slope Technical Services (ASTS) are the latest awardees under a U.S. Air Force program to mature booster technology.

The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMSC) awarded Boeing a contract worth $6,193,737.  ASTS received a contract worth $3,690,389.

The contract announcements do not specify the nature of the work involved. The contracts are part of a broad agency announcement focused on advanced materials and material manufacturing and development.

The overall goal is to fund technologies that will allow the nation to transition away from using Russian-produced RD-180 rocket engines on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V booster.

SMSC has awarded nine contracts worth nearly $27.6 million under the announcement.  The center expects to award up to $32 million in contracts.

AWARDEEAMOUNT
Boeing$  6,193,737
Aerojet Rocketdyne$ 6,003,668
Northrop Grumman$ 5,465,705
Arctic Slope Technical Services$ 3,690,389
ATK Launch Systems Inc.$  3,125,810
Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering$    935,696
Tanner Research$    902,507
Moog Inc.$    728,337
Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering$    545,860
TOTAL:$27,591,709











Air Force Certifies Upgraded Falcon 9 Booster

Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 launch (Credit: SpaceX)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif. (SMSC PR) — Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space and Missile Systems Center commander, updated the certified baseline configuration of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Launch System to Falcon 9 Upgrade, for use in National Security Space (NSS) missions. The baseline configuration of the Falcon 9 Launch System was updated to the Falcon 9 Upgrade on Jan. 25.

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GAO: New USAF Launch Contract Approach Leaves Service Less Informed

An United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-55 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 3 at 5:49 a.m. PDT. (Credit: ULA)
An United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the NROL-55 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 3 at 5:49 a.m. PDT. (Credit: ULA)

The USAF’s switch to awarding launch contracts competitively with firm-fixed-price contracts will leave the military service with far less information with which to assess the contractor’s performance and less flexibility in modifying launch schedules, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  [Full Report]

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Alsbury to be Honored With School Academy

Mike Alsbury
Mike Alsbury

The Lancaster School District has decided to name a new science, technology, engineering, mathematics and arts academy after two Scaled Composites test pilots: Mike Alsbury and Fitzhugh “Fitz” Fulton.

The new school will be called the Fulton & Alsbury Academy of Arts and Engineering.

Alsbury was killed last year when SpaceShipTwo broke up in the sky near Koehn Lake. He joined Scaled Composites in 1998, logging more than 1,000 hours in the Proteus high-altitude aircraft.

Fulton flew experimental aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and NASA, testing the X-1, X-15, XB-70, and YF-12 A and YF-12C. Fulton, who passed away in February, finished his career at Scaled Composites.