Scorpius, A New Generation of Responsive, Low Cost Expendable Launch Vehicle Family

Abstract:

The Scorpius® vehicle family extends from one and two stage sub-orbital vehicles for target and science applications to small, medium and heavy lift orbital vehicles. These new liquid fueled vehicles have LEO and GTO capabilities. Microcosm, Inc. and the Scorpius Space Launch Company (SSLC) are well into the development of this all-new generation of expendable launch vehicles to support commercial and government missions.
This paper presents the projected performance of the family of vehicles, status of the development program and current projected launch service prices. The paper will discuss the new low cost ablative engines and low cost pressure-fed LOX/Jet-A propulsion systems. Schedules, payload volumes, dispensers, attach fittings, and planned dual manifest capabilities will be presented. The unique configuration of the wide base first stage allows fairings that may extend beyond the current 4-meters. The Scorpius® family is designed to facilitate encapsulated payloads and launch-on-demand. The implications of these new operational procedures will be addressed, including the techniques that will be used to drive down the cost of access to space while improving reliability.

The Scorpius® family of low cost vehicles addresses the full range of payloads from 700 lbs. in the Sprite Mini-Lift to over 50,000 lbs. to LEO in the Heavy-Lift, and over 18,000 lbs. to GTO. Two sub-orbital vehicles have been developed and successfully launched with the latest vehicle (SR-XM) launched in March of 2001 from White Sands Missile Range. Development of the family of vehicles commenced in 1993 under contracts with the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicle Directorate after a number of years of independent studies and system engineering. The Sprite Mini-Lift Small Expendable Launch Vehicle (SELV) that utilizes the SR-XM technologies is planned for an initial launch in mid 2005 with larger, scaled-up vehicles to follow.

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Chakroborty, S., Wertz, J.R., and Conger, R, “SCORPIUS, A new Generation of Responsive, Low Cost Expendable Launch Family,” The World Space Congress 2002, IAF—COSPAR, Houston, TX, October, 2002.