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.
Whether the F-35 fighter will get new engines from the Air Force’s cutting-edge Adaptive Engine Transition Program is a question that needs to be resolved at the Defense Department level, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told lawmakers May 17—and he anticipates an answer in the 2024 budget.