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DARPA cancels RASCAL program
Posted: Thu, Feb 3, 2005, 1:49 PM ET (1849 GMT)
RASCAL illustration (DARPA) The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has canceled an effort to develop a low-cost small launch vehicle that utilized a high-speed aircraft, Space News reported Wednesday. DARPA said this week it elected not to proceed with the Responsive Access, Small Cargo, Affordable Launch (RASCAL) program, which completed a "Phase 2" design-and-development stage late last year. RASCAL, under development by a team led by Space Launch Corporation, would have used a high-speed aircraft what climbed to about 60 kilometers altitude, where it would deploy an expendable rocket to place small satellites in orbit. RASCAL was intended to launch satellites weighing up to 150 kilograms into low Earth orbit for as little as $10,000 a kilogram, and perform such launches on just 24 hours' notice. The fate of RASCAL had been in doubt for months, particularly after DARPA Director Tony Tether expressed doubts about the program at a smallsat conference in Utah in August. DARPA will instead proceed with other efforts to develop low-cost responsive launchers, such as the FALCON program. Space Launch Corporation officials said RASCAL was their main source of revenue, but that they are exploring other opportunities.
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