SpaceDev has signed a lease to expand its fabrication and test facilities and to begin constructing portable, high tech rocket motor test support equipment in anticipation of test firing new rocket motors that SpaceDev is developing for its low-cost expendable small launch vehicle called SpaceDev Streaker.
Under an Air Force Research Laboratory contract announced last October, SpaceDev has designed and will begin development of the SpaceDev Streaker Hybrid Upper Stage rocket motor.
This motor is expected to produce approximately 20,000 pounds of thrust, in contrast to the 15,000 pounds of thrust produced by SpaceDev's hybrid rocket motor technology for Paul Allen's SpaceShipOne.
In addition, the Company plans to boost overall performance of this upper stage motor using new techniques and refining current techniques that go beyond that of traditional hybrid motors.
"This additional SpaceDev facility will also be located in Poway, California. It will add approximately 11,000 square feet of fabrication space in which we will construct rocket motor development equipment that will be highly adaptable and mobile", said Jim Benson, founding chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
"This equipment is being built on several large flatbed trailers to maximize mobility and system test flexibility.
"This new rocket motor test equipment should be applicable to a wide variety of future hybrid rocket motor developments."
SpaceDev is planning to construct its rocket motor test stand with the capability of handling up to 250,000 pounds of thrust.
The test stand will be designed to support the 20,000 pounds of thrust produced by the Hybrid Upper Stage motor, and the 120,000 pounds of thrust expected to be produced by the SpaceDev Streaker Small Common Booster motor.
The portable test stand is expected to open more potential sites for rocket motor firings and is expected to cost less than renting existing government facilities.
Complementing the SpaceDev test stand is a planned transportable, self-contained, air-conditioned command center including all necessary monitoring and instrumentation equipment.
A mobile SpaceDev test support trailer is being designed to carry test tanks and conditioning equipment to move, maintain and store various quantities of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), used as the oxidizer in SpaceDev's safe, non-exploding, rubber-burning rocket motors.
"We are currently scheduling the first Hybrid Upper Stage motor firing for later this summer," said Benson.
"We are working closely with our Air Force customer, and hope to soon begin work designing and developing the Small Common Booster motor for SpaceDev Streaker."
Last September, SpaceDev announced that it was exploring designs for safe and affordable manned, sub-orbital and orbital space flight.
Preliminary design of the SpaceDev Dream Chaser is progressing and SpaceDev intends to use as much technology from SpaceDev Streaker as possible in SpaceDev Dream Chaser to reduce cost and risk, and to speed development.
SpaceDev currently plans to use variations of both the Hybrid Upper Stage and the Small Common Booster motors in Dream Chaser, along with Large Common Boosters in the orbital version of SpaceDev Dream Chaser.
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