Last week the LA Business Journal discussed the potential revival of the aerospace industry as an economic driver in the greater Los Angeles area, given a DARPA competition for unmanned reusable and partially reusable space launch vehicles. As DARPA is requiring that contractors meet extremely difficult specifications when crafting this “space plane” the project is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take up to ten years to build. Regardless, Northrop Grumman Corp., Scaled Composites of Mojave and Virgin Galactic in Las Cruces, N.M have all launched bids. The opportunity to boost the local aerospace job market comes with the possibility of building these space planes for the commercial market, as federal funding is limited; Northrop is required to include this eventuality in its business plan, within its DARPA submission.
The DoD wants to develop launch solutions that are cheap and able to deploy payloads very quickly…Being able to rapidly launch a large number of smaller satellites is advantageous under a strategy of disaggregation.” –Jake SilvermanHowever, “while a partial revival of the local aerospace industry could be a consequence of the development of reusable private space vehicles, the primary goal is to cut down on high launch costs.” Lower launch costs would support the U.S. Department of Defense’s desire to disaggregate its space infrastructure. In other words, the Air Force could increasingly afford to launch a larger number of smaller satellites to defend against adversaries armed with anti-satellite weaponry, such as China.
Click here to read: “Northrop Aims to Land Big One“