The Sprite Mini-Lift Vehicle: Performance, Cost and Schedule Projections for the First of the Scorpius Low-Cost Launch Vehicles

Abstract:

Scorpius® is a Microcosm program, under two Phase III Small Business Innovation Research contracts at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate. The Scorpius® program is to develop an entirely new launch vehicle family with the objective of reducing total launch cost by a factor of 5 to 10. This paper reports on status and substantial progress of the program since our last USU update. Specifically, the Sprite Mini-Lift Vehicle is projected to have a first DT&E flight in the first quarter of 2001 and first production flight in the first quarter of 2002. It has a planned payload capability of 440 lb. to low Earth orbit (due east launch). Total cost to orbit of the system is projected at $2 million (FY99$) after 10 launches.
System development has focused initially on smaller suborbital and orbital vehicles, although system level design has been done for vehicles ranging from a small, single engine suborbital, the SR-S, to massive heavy lift vehicles capable of putting 160,000 lb. into low-Earth orbit. The first test vehicle, the SR-S suborbital, was successfully launched at White Sands Missile Range on Jan. 27, 1999 and a larger single stage suborbital is scheduled for launch in late 1999.

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Berry, J., R. Conger, and J.R. Wertz, 1999. “The Sprite Mini-Lift Vehicle: Performance, Cost, and Schedule Projections for the First of the Scorpius Low-Cost Launch Vehicles.” Paper No. SSC99-X-7 presented at the 13th AIAA/USU Small Satellite Conference, August 25, 1999.