The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded Lockheed Martin a $6.2 million contract to mature technologies that would allow for on-demand launches of small satellites. The Airborne Launch Assist Space Access phase one contract covers 18 months, according to the company’s July 3 release. “Our approach uses a tactical aircraft to provide a high-energy-state, reusable first stage, enabling launches from bases worldwide to support the US and its allies,” said Derek Bye, Lockheed Martin’s ALASA program manager. Over the 18-month period of performance, a team led by Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will define a preliminary system design and conduct a demonstration system definition review, according to the release. Boeing announced receipt of a similar ALASA phase one contract at the end of May. DARPA aims to launch satellites on the order of 100 pounds for less than $1 million, including range support costs, with ALASA.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.