Scorpius is a Microcosm program to develop an entirely new launch vehicle family with the objective of reducing total launch cost by a factor of 10. This paper reports on progress since the program was publicly introduced at the 9th AIAA/USU Conference.
Technical progress has been slower than desired due to funding delays. Testing of the 5,000 lb thrust engine has continued, with more than a dozen having been built at an average cost of less than $5,000 each for the thrust chamber assembly. Performance and life are appropriate for launch to orbit. Two different scaleable low-cost injectors have been successfully tested and a third injector for larger engines is in development. The design and fabrication of a 20,000 lb thrust engine has started. Other components are in-house or under way.
Construction has begun on two different suborbital vehicles to be flight tested at White Sands Missile Range early in 1998. These will be the first flight tests of Scorpius low-cost launch technology. In addition, the rocket engine test facility in Socorro, NM is being upgraded to accommodate testing of engines of up to 100,000 lbs thrust.
Wertz, J.R., M. Biggs, R. Conger, and E. Keith, 1997. “Status of the Scorpius Low-Cost Launch Services Program.” Paper No. SSC97-XII-5, presented at the 11th AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, UT, September 16–18, 1997.