DARPA Tasks Boeing to Explore Small Satellite Launch Technology

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Boeing an 18-month contract to evaluate technologies for on-demand small satellite launch systems, announced the company. Under the Airborne Launch Assist Space Access contract, worth about $4.5 million, Boeing will analyze affordable, aircraft-based satellite launch platforms that could quickly send payloads of up to 100 pounds into any required orbit, states the company’s May 31 release. Steve Johnson, director of Boeing’s advanced space exploration unit, said this work would expand knowledge of launch system solutions that could be integrated “into existing operational aircraft with minimal modification.” ALASA’s goal is to develop a significantly less expensive approach for routine small satellite launches and aims to reduce by at least threefold the current costs associated with military and US commercial launches, according to Boeing’s release.